Sunday, August 27, 2017

Straight Horning: Joe Giardullo - No Work Today

Joe Giardullo: No Work Today - Nine for Steve Lacy (Drimala Records) recorded December 2004

Solo saxophone recordings
Joe may have more of name as a mouthpiecemaker/refacer than as a player. But first and foremost, he’s a player, and I’m finally getting around to having a listen (beyond a few things online here and there). Dedicating a solo soprano saxophone recording Steve Lacy is bold, and then topping things off with a couple of Lacy’s compositions….. It’s gutsy, but he makes things work. 

Initially, I couldn’t help comparing his approach with Lacy, but that died down later in the week. It doesn’t seem like Giardullo deliberately goes out of his way to not play like Lacy, but instead plays through the influence, letting his music come through naturally. And this brings to light the differences.

- He has a full, resonant tone - a bit brighter or more focussed (I like the subtle growl he employees sparingly).
- Articulation, phrasing and rhythmic feel (particularly on more conventional 8th note lines) is definitely his own.
- Overall Giardullo is busier - space is not explored like Lacy does in solo performance. 

When you add things up, the “Lacyness” may be more of a case of guilt by association….But Giardullo does capture (or express) some of the spirit of a Lacy performance.

Aside from the two pieces by Lacy, a number of the improvisations are loosely based on - and at times not so loosely based on - tunes by Ellington (“I Got It Bad,” “In a Sentimental Mood”) and Monk (“Work,” “Misterioso,” “Thelonious”). It seems being on bit of an Ellington kick makes Duke's tunes show up unexpectedly. The approach Giardullo takes with these improvisations - using the song as a template for exploration rather than blind adherence to a strict rule - is very much in line with something I have been working on in my own playing (most recently with some of Duke tunes, including “In a Sentimental Mood” last week). And on that note, No Work Today has provided some refreshing, and well-timed listening this week.

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