The words "surf's up" keep coming to mind when I listen to bassist J.A. Granelli and Mr. Lucky's Gigantic. Though it may seem an odd comparison, the music here has that rough-around-the-edges groove mode of long ago guitar/organ-based surf music, a very early sixties (pre-Beatles) Southern California type of garage rock. These minor hit records from regional instrumental groups served as soundtracks for 8mm surf documentary movie makers who traveled from high school gym to local community centers with their now laughably antiquated projectors and pull down movie screens. Bruce Brown's Endless Summer was simply the most successful of these movies. There were scores of lower budget surf flicks out there at the time. And there was small concurrent surf music scene to ride the wave with them.
Having said that, it's a good guess that New York-based J.A. Granelli was influenced not at all by that sound, though "Happy Pt 1," with its crunchy guitar licks and fluid organ groove seems as though it could serve as a backing to a longboarder sliding down a long left at Trestles.
Gigantic is an engaging listen, a mix of loose-jointed funk and R&B, with some reggae hints thrown into the brew, in addition to a charmingly reworked pop tune, "If I Can't Have You"; a set suffused with a relaxed insouciance of the old time surf tunes; a hundred and eighty degree departure from Granelli's blacksmith jazz on Iron Sky (Love Slave Records, 2003).
And I have no idea who Mr. Lucky is, other than the name of this group.
Track Listing: Merle, Happy Pt 1, Gigantic, Again, 13.5, Happy Pt 2, Sock Monkey, If I Can't Have You, Pipe Dreams, 13.5 (dub)
Personnel: J.A. Granelli--bass and piccolo bass; David Tronzo--slide guitar; Jamie Shaft--organ, mellotron, diego Voglino--drums
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.