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CIMP artists are notorious for coming up with some of the most eclectic and esoteric composition names in creative improvised music. William Gagliardi shoots for a new standard on his first entry as a leader for the label turning with a clutch of titles that exude equal parts idiosyncrasy and mystery. As it turns out the saxophonist’s personal history is as colorful and diverse as his appellative sense. Making stops in locales as diverse as Puerto Rico, Norway and India in his younger globetrotting travels he developed a freethinking life philosophy that in turn funnels directly into the explicit emotionalism of his music. His partners on this long overdue debut share similar perspectives and together they convert the riddle-like phrases of the tune titles into analogously equivocal music.
Jumping from linear melodicism to oblique intervallic bursts the leader bridges the spans between what is still referred to as “inside” and “outside” styles in some circles with fluid ease. On the opening tongue twister “Encryptic Hip Bob (that he is)” a syncopated vamp serves as trampoline for the players in various solo capacities. Grassi keeps the beat elastic, scrubbing up lather on cymbals and snapping the figurative towel to the toms. “Oli-skt. Wombfire” is sedate by comparison, at least in its opening minutes, which unfold on the gentle chords conscripted by Wessel’s guitar. Gagliardi’s Trane debt cashes in on numerous occasions particularly during the stretches of sound sheets that blanket several of his more boisterous solos. But it’s an obvious influence he never exploits to the point of exorbitance. Hofstra and Grassi stitch a supportive net of harmonic and rhythmic strength on “Bill & his friends…” that makes the said price of the track’s title a bargain by virtually any attuned ear’s estimation. The leader and Wessel take full advantage of the sturdy underpinning churning out harmonically rich lines steeped in emotive energy that bring the mantra of the disc’s title into immediate consideration.
Gagliardi may have shied from record for the majority of his musical career, but his late blooming appearance in the album arena in no way reflects a paucity of talent. Rather than lament his decision listeners becoming acquainted with his highly personal music are more likely to rejoice at what the future holds. I’m happy to count myself among this number of expectant, newly indoctrinated fans.
Track Listing: Encryptic Hip Bob (that he is)/ Oil-skt. Wombfire/ Too dry for tears/ Rootlessness/ 125th & Broadway Aum’n in/ Good lookin’ popular Extemporaneous Combustion/ Bill & his friends Free Jazz $1.99 a lb./ Ear of the behearer/ Eagles fly for Bow Hay, ya, hay, ya/ Sunshine, bright smiles.
Personnel: William Gagliardi- alto, tenor & soprano saxophones; Ken Wessel- guitar; Dave Hofstra- bass; Lou Grassi- drums. Recorded: February 20 & 21, 2001, Rossie, NY.