Richard Galliano: Ruby, My Dear (2005)
Richard Galliano has been working to promote the accordion for well over 25 years now, and he has done more than just about any other musician in pulling the instrument into legitimacy for the mainstream jazz audience. It certainly warrants the attention, since the accordion can color a melody in so many variant shades that one wonders why it hasn't been accepted in general. The variations in color Galliano can coax from his instrument are bountifulfrom whispers to roars and from heartfelt melodies to dissonant stabsand they always serve the music.
Having worked with the likes of Chet Baker, Michel Petrucciani, Jan Garbarek, Joe Zawinul, and Enrico Rava, among a host of other heavyweights, Galliano called on bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Clarence Penn for this outing, dubbing the group his New York Trio. And to be sure, this configuration pushes the music towards a swaggering swinging sound.
Recorded live in Italy, this program of invigorating music opens on its most sentimental and overwrought note with Thelonious Monk's "Ruby, My Dear. The lushness of Galliano's interpretation may sometimes feel a bit heavy-handed, and if it were placed further back in the program, it would sing a little more truthfully. He uses the accordion to sweep across the melody and works the standard in a number ways. And even if it does sound a bit affected, it orients the listener for an album that consistently outperforms any preconceived notions.
Grenadier deserves special note for his contributions as a flexible foil and a beautiful solo voice. His playing on songs such as "Bohemia After Dark or "L'insidieuse is fraught with constant propulsion that swings harder than most bass solos today. And what really serves the group is that they don't come off as your typical muddy bass solo spots, because he always deals with the melody and rhythm, and his voice is recorded pristinely.
One of the most interesting and collaborative songs on the album is Galliano's "Naia, where Galliano introduces the song through some nice swells and darting sounds from his accordion. Penn and Grenadier join with aplomb, and as things move along Penn begins to stretch the time and dynamics, pushing Galliano from the lighthearted theme to some heavy interactive ensemble playing, at one time evolving into a free section of dialogue between the leader and drummer.
With a high level of interactivity and group cohesiveness, these sonorities meld into a sound that can carry you away.
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Track Listing: Ruby, My Dear; L'Insidieuse; Historia De Un Amor; Bohemia After Dark; Gnossienne No. 1; Teulada; Naia; Spleen; Waltz For Nicky.
Personnel: Richard Galliano: accordion; Larry Grenadier: acoustic bass; Clarence Penn: drums and percussion.
Record Label: Dreyfus Records