Lou Grassi Quartet: Avanti Galoppi (2005)
With over thirty years of dedication to jazz, drummer Lou Grassi should be better known. In the netherworld of jazz, though, and its even darker region of free jazz, no one seems capable of escaping obscurity, a sort of reverse vampire state. Avanti Galoppi brings Grassi closer to the light, closer to the recognition he deserves via the album's seven engaging tunes. Employing the skilled services of Herb Robertson on trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn, Rob Brown on alto saxophone, and Ken Filiano on bass, Grassi presents an album leaning towards the shadows of free jazz, though always mindful of form and structure.
Brown's "Underground Elevation" begins the set with a loose, processional theme preceding the ragged-toned solos of Brown and Robertson. With Grassi's patient, steady beats, the agitations caused by the horns seem purposely hindered and attenuated, like two wild bugs inside a jar. The title track, penned by Grassi, finds the leader providing a stream of repetitive beats, allowing the other members to observe and extrapolate from this fixed point. Filiano's "Dancing Shadows" is busier in rhythm and harmony as it traverses various themes on its thirteen-minute ride, though always keen on structure. Longer pieces like Filiano's "Dancing Shadows," "Willie B," Grassi's "Ballad of 9/11," and Robertson's "Squatting Women" highlight these players' capacity to call and respond, listening and reacting to the motions around them.
Though at times they do indeed drift out, the members of the group always bring their improvisational steps to a clear rhythmic core. The design to all this sense and madness can be attributed to the quality of the composers. All the members contribute at least one song to the album, each expressing a unique urgency for melody, rhythm, and freedom in jazz. Especially recommended for those who enjoy their bop a little hard, a little out, and really cool, Avanti Galoppi should again bring greater appreciation to Lou Grassi and his men.
Track Listing: Underground Elevation; Avanti Galoppi; Dancing Shadows; Lake George; Ballad of 9/11; Squatting Women; Willie B
Personnel: Herb Robertson- trumpet, pocket trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn; Rob Brownalto sax; Ken Filiano- bass; Lou Grassi- drums