The jazz guitar in this modern era has often been like Godzilla in Tokyo. It dominates, rocks, and blots out the sun. Okay, not Jim Hall’s guitar – but in this MTV world, our focus and attention naturally falls upon the guitarist. The 21st century listener’s frame of reference for all things guitar is rock and roll.
Just the opposite is the beauty of guitarist Giovanni Moltoni’s Openground. His unobtrusive manner is certainly antithesis of rock. Like a recording by Hank Jones or Charles Lloyd, his music breathes and gives the listener’s ears a sonic massage. The trio heard here are all Berklee College faculty members. The Italian-born Moltoni has been teaching there for the past six years. While there is nothing groundbreaking here, there is a subtle allure and sophisticated swing that has kept this disc in heavy rotation around these parts.
The disc opens with an almost waltz, “After The Rain.” The ease at which the three trade off notes with such casualness informs the remainder of the album. Moltoni penned all the tracks, seven for the trio and two solo. “Sometimes I Will” is played electric and the closer “White & Blue” for his acoustic guitar.
It’s not that Moltoni can’t rock out. Both “Altered Fill” and “The Feast” take hints from jazz’s more aggressive forms. Yet, there is plenty of space present throughout. The boppish “Blues For Sale” is a fresh take on classic blues chords, all three players trading off and passing around notes.
Moltoni’s elegance and simple lines bear repeated listenings.
Personnel: Giovanni Moltoni - Guitar; Paul Del Nero - Bass; Bob Tamagni - Drums.