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Giovanni Guidi: Avec le temps

Mark Sullivan By

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Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi leads a quintet through a lyrical, mostly original program. The core band is the Giovanni Guidi Trio with American double bassist Thomas Morgan and Portuguese drummer Joao Luis Lobo, as heard on This Is The Day (ECM Records, 2015) and City Of Broken Dreams (ECM Records, 2013). They are joined by tenor saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti and guitarist Roberto Cecchetto. Guidi's previous release was the collective date Ida Lupino (ECM Records, 2016) with trombonist Gianluca Petrella, clarinetist Louis Sclavis and drummer Gerald Cleaver, which offered a comparable array of timbral colors. But the free improvisation which dominated that session is only briefly on display here.

The title tune (which opens the album) is an instrumental cover of a French chanson standard by Léo Ferré, a bittersweet ode to recovering from a broken heart whose title in English is "It May Take Time." It is played by the trio alone, led by Guidi's rubato piano. Morgan plays the clearest statement of the song's melody pizzicato, with the whole thing punctuated by Lobo's percussive accents, including keening bowed cymbals. The entire quintet makes its entry on Guidi's "15th Of August," a ruminative entry that extends the atmosphere of the opening chanson. Cecchetto states the theme in duet with Morgan's bass, and it is never far away after that, frequently doubled by guitar and Bearzatti's tenor saxophone. A drum/bass duet provides a surprising ending.

"Postludium And A Kiss" is the first of two collective compositions, featuring very high altissimo saxophone. The rhythm section builds to a powerful climax, so single-minded that it does not sound like an improvisation. "No Taxi" opens with an elaborate theme, which returns after a free piano solo—again presenting the appearance of an arrangement worked out collectively rather than a free improvisation. However improvised they may have been, both tracks contribute to the flow of the album.

"Ti Stimo" (which can be translated as "I Respect You") is an especially memorable piece, with an attractive melody that immediately seems familiar. The initial statement comes from a guitar/bass/drums trio—a combination heard for the first time—before the melody is taken up by the piano, with the saxophone joining in for an extended, rhapsodic coda. The trio has the last word on the elegant closer "Tomasz," dedicated to the late Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, a longtime ECM Records artist. Like the rest of the album, it is striking in its balance between freedom and structure, with beauty and lyricism always dominating. It is also a successful expansion of Guidi's trio into a (sometime) quintet concept, with promise for the future.

Track Listing: Avec Le Temps; 15th Of August; Postludium And A Kiss; No Taxi; Caino; Johnny The Liar; Ti Stimo; Tomasz.

Personnel: Giovanni Guidi: piano; Francesco Bearzatti: tenor saxophone; Roberto Cecchetto: guitar; Thomas Morgan: double bass; João Lobo: drums.

Title: Avec le temps | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: ECM Records

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