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John Pisano: Conversation Pieces

Robert Spencer By

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Conversation Pieces is a follow-up to Pisano's 1995 Among Friends,, and like its successful predecessor it consists of a series of "conversations" Pisano holds with other guitarists: the returning Lee Ritenour, Phil Upchurch, Ted Greene, and Dori Caymmi, plus Joe Diorio and Gene Bertoncini. Actually, all the tracks here were recorded in 1994 and 1995.

Pisano is a laid-back neo-bop guitarist with a good facility for improvising in tandem; accordingly, this album is as solidly listenable as its predecessor. On "You Were Meant for Me," "Blues for Joe" and "AM/PM," Pisano and Diorio have at it (with Chuck Domanico on bass and Colin Bailey on drums). Their interplay is genial but heated enough on "You Were Meant for Me." "Blues for Joe," which sounds more like a Gilberto-ish samba than a straight blues, strikes a pleasant pose. But things really get going on "Just Friends," one of two unaccompanied duets Pisano enjoys – and enjoys is the word – with Bertoncini. Both men play nylon-string guitars here (Pisano also plays them on two accompanied duets with Caymmi, "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" and "Captain Bacardi"), and weave intricate, long-breathing lines that are the highlight of the disc. Don't miss "Blues in F," their other duet, either.

There are also two unaccompanied electric guitar duets with Ted Greene: a languid and harmonically adventurous "Body and Soul" and a hauntingly evocative "When I Fall in Love." These are drenched in blues feeling and are generally successful, albeit without the excitement of the tracks with Bertoncini. Still, although the bassists and drummers (including Domanico and Bailey, bassists Jim Hughart, Chuck Berghofer, and Jose Marino; and drummers Claudio Slon and Joe LaBarbera) are tastefully unobtrusive, the heat on this one is generated by the acoustic strings of Pisano and Bertoncini. For fans of limpid and civilized jazz guitar, this is a fine entry.

Tracks:You Were Meant for Me; Blues for Joe; Just Friends; AM/PM; Ribbit; Jo-Wes; Whisper Not; Body and Soul; When I Fall in Love; I'll Follow My Secret Heart; Blues in F; Captain Bacardi.

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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