Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicago Freebop from Pianist Paul Giallorenzo

Paul Giallorenzo is one of those artists that sneaks up on you. The first hearing of his Get In To Go Out (482 Music) was not unpositive, yet I felt that I hadn't gotten a handle on his playing or his group sound. As I listened further however his artistry began to come into focus for me.

Part of the problem perhaps (and it's a problem many CDs have in common) is that the generous length of the disk is such that fully absorbing that much rather advanced music in one sitting for the first time is a daunting task. But that's only to say that any complicated musical offering takes time to become clear to the listener unfamiliar with it. Before the days of mechanical reproduction, when repetition of a piece involved a physical regathering of musicians and audience, that process of familiarization could take a century. Beethoven's later works come to mind. Thankfully we can listen and relisten to recordings at will today, and become familiar with new music without considerable expense and logistical difficulties.

So then, what of Paul Giallorenzo and this CD? Paul is a native New Yorker who transplanted himself to the Chicago area in college, stayed, and has become part of the Chicago jazz re-nascence. Get In To Go Out finds him in the company of some Chicagoland heavyweights, notably cornetist Josh Berman and reedman Dave Rempis (see yesterday's posting for another, not unrelated association of Chicago players). The rhythm section of Anton Hatwich on contrabass and Frank Rosaly on drums fleshes out the group with a good foundation.

Giallorenzo plays in a piano style that has something to do with early Cecil Taylor, in that it is simultaneously free, swinging and gives a nod to the bop and after folks. His compositions have the flavor of early Ornette and Bill Dixon to me, but not in any but the lineage sense of the idea. He relates to these important forbears like a younger participant in a family reunion who remains his own person in spite of the family relation and resemblance.

The seven mostly somewhat lengthy pieces on this CD provide ample time for Giallorenzo, Berman and Rempis to dig into the material and the results are worthy. This is good Chicago modernism, if you will. My only quibble is with the sound of Anton Hatwich's bass. Perhaps it was a matter of microphone placement, or maybe it's just my playback system and the acoustics of the room that it is in, but in certain portions of the session his sound seems so boomy that distinguishing individual pitches can be problematic. This is in no way a serious defect, but it can be distracting at those times when he is laying down a foundation riff.

In the end Get In To Go Out provides a timely and absorbing set of new jazz from Chicago. It's a lively scene, and this CD well documents a part of it that appears to be in the process of establishing its importance to the jazz world today. I look hearing more from this most able player, writer and leader!

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