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Giovanni Guidi Trio: City of Broken Dreams

John Kelman By

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It seemed inevitable. After working with Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava on 2013's Michael Jackson tribute, Rava on the Dance Floor, and 2011's more intimate Tribe, it should come as no surprise that pianist Giovanni Guidi—the only connecting thread between those two records (other than, of course, Rava)—should find himself with an opportunity to make his own record for the label. City of Broken Dreams comes with its own intrinsic continuity; a trio session from the final days of 2011, it features Joao Lobo, Guidi's drummer who has graced the pianist's two previous Cam Jazz outings, the quartet-based Indian Summer (2007) and larger, more audacious The Unknown Rebel Band (2009).

First impressions may be important, but they rarely reveal all that needs to be known. Opening with the title track that bookends the CD—a second variation bringing City to a close 52 minutes later—its melancholic lyricism and rubato style are but two aspects of this trio's considerably broader reach. Still, there's no denying Guidi's ability to create gently appealing waves, supported by Lobo's delicate brushwork (switching to mallets for the closing variation) and bassist Thomas Morgan's sparse but ever-astute choices.

After debuting with guitarist John Abercrombie on Wait Till You See Her (ECM, 2009), Morgan has suddenly become a more frequent face for the label, already appearing on two other recordings this year: Tomasz Stanko's Wislawa, with the Polish trumpeter's New York Quartet, and pianist Craig Taborn's trio date, Chants. An introspective bassist with a firm, muscular touch and a deceptively simple, Charlie Haden-like approach, Morgan's unerring choices are never superfluous, the bassist never opting for virtuosic displays when just a few notes will do.

If City of Broken Dreams' opening suggests an album of consistently calming quietude, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Guidi demonstrates a firmer touch and a penchant for majestic elegance on "Leonie" and buoyant classicism on the rubato "Just One More Time," its serpentine melody opening up for an extended feature for Morgan that, supported only by Lobo's delicate kit work, represents some of the bassist's best work—not just on City, but in recent times. His motif-driven solo moves effortlessly from the lyrical upper range of his instrument to near-rhythmic implications as he moves to the lower register in preparation for Guidi's entry, the pianist similarly expanding upon the tune's etude-like premise.

Elsewhere, "No Other Possibility" winds its way from structural ascending lines and dissonant voicings to an open-ended middle section where Guidi proves his mettle in a knottier, more idiosyncratic context that harkens to pianist Keith Jarrett's early, Ornette Coleman-inspired, pre-ECM trio recordings with Haden and drummer Paul Motian.

Still on the shy side of 30, Guidi's reputation was already on the ascendancy prior to coming to ECM. Now, with two Rava recordings and this trio date under his belt, Guidi is clearly positioned as Italy's most promising pianist since Stefano Bollani began coming out from under the trumpeter's wing fifteen years ago. Based on the strength of his far-reaching, stylistically unfettered City of Broken Dreams, similar accolades and success are, no doubt, in store for this extremely talented young artist.

Track Listing: City of Broken Dreams; Leonie; Just One More Time; The Forbidden Zone; No Other Possibility; The Way Some People Live; The Impossible Divorce; Late Blue; Ocean View; City of Broken Dreams, var.

Personnel: Giovanni Guidi: piano; Thomas Morgan: double bass; João Lobo: drums.

Title: City of Broken Dreams | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: ECM Records

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