Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

127

J.A. Granelli and Mr. Lucky: Gigantic

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
What is jazz? Does anyone know anymore? When Bill Frisell won Downbeat's Album of the Year award a few years back for Nashville—an album that was long on Americana and bluegrass and, at least on initial inspection, short on the things that most people tended to associate with jazz—the landscape had clearly changed.

And that's not a bad thing. What really defines jazz is the improvisational spirit; not just someone soloing over a band mind you, but a true collective improvisational spirit; and Frisell, who continues to explore Americana roots music, clearly puts that front and centre, regardless of the context. And while bassist J.A. Granelli and his group, Mr. Lucky, are on the outer edges of what many people would define as jazz, Gigantic is as good a fringe jazz record as you are apt to hear this year.

Reconvening with slide guitarist David Tronzo and Jamie Saft on organ and mellotron, Mr. Lucky explores an atmospheric blend that incorporates blues, country, gospel, boogie and reggae into a style that, for all its familiarity, contains many surprises. A newcomer to the band, drummer Diego Voglino drives the band with an encyclopaedic knowledge of groove. Whether it is the boogie-style "Happy Pt. 1" or the reggae-inflected "13.5," Voglino anchors the band with a confident, somewhat slap-happy style and a firm back-beat.

But while groove is a big part of what Granelli and Mr. Lucky are about, they are also about texture. Saft has been gaining a reputation as a keyboardist who, manages to create a unique landscape, and things are no different here. On the atmospheric "Merle," Saft creates a lush pad over which Tronzo's playing is so relaxed it almost falls over, but in Tronzo's capable hands it all manages to work.

While everyone plays well, Tronzo is really the star of the show, defining most of the melodies with a fat guitar sound that, while more processed, would make Ry Cooder proud. His dexterity with a slide is scary; he pulls off lines that would send most slide players back to their practice rooms.

A lot of what Mr. Happy is about is a very retro sound; but throughout it all is a modernity of approach to harmony and counterpoint that takes an R&B-informed tune like "Again" and gives it a completely contemporary flavour. While Mr. Lucky clearly look back with reverence, they are not about homage; they are about referencing different styles and taking them forward. As groove-happy as this group is, there is something indefinable that gives them a slightly avant edge.

Infectious, moving and passionate while, at the same time, thoughtful and intelligent, Gigantic is the second album from a group whose first CD was hailed as one of the best CDs of 2001. Gigantic continues to deliver on the promise of the first record and is destined to become a favourite of 2004.


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, piccolo bass; David Tronzo: slide guitar; Jamie Saft: organ, mellotron; Diego Voglino: drums; Vanessa Saft: vocal (8).

Title: Gigantic | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Love Slave Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "TajMo" CD/LP/Track Review TajMo
by James Nadal
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Whisper to the Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Whisper to the Wind
by Jim Olin
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "The Authorized Bang Collection" CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Agrima" CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!