This is not going to be an album for everyone, but here are some potential candidates:
listeners who feel that smooth jazz is too limited and without any real pulse
rockers who are tired of the same old licks and Top 40 syndrome
the disenchanted who yearn for music that's better suited than mainstream jazz for parties
musical adventurers who pride themselves on always looking beyond the obvious and wish to explore some fresh, cutting edge music.
Bassist J.A. Granelli is the leader of Mr. Lucky, which is allegedly named in honor of Henry Mancini's composition of the late 1950s. I am having a tough time making a connection on that factoid. The man with the initials is the son of West Coast drummer Jerry Granelli, who played for Vince Guaraldi and Denny Zeitlin in the early 1960s. The group known as Mr. Lucky is rounded out by slide guitarist Dave Tronzo, organist Jamie Saft, and drummer Diego Voglino. Granelli composed most of the tunes and provides all of the arrangements on Gigantic. This group, especially Tronzo, has a noted reputation amongst the cutting edge New York Downtown jazz scene.
Tronzo's pyrotechnics on slide guitar are showcased throughout and the nine tracks fly all over the map in terms of both genre and style. The opener, "Merle," begins in a promising "Bill-Frisell-goes-to-Nashville" style with lots of blurry notes played in balladic form; but on the next track he launches into Jimi Hendrix-style guitar riffs. Following are presentations in jam band, reggae/dub, reconstructed ballad ("If I Can't Have You," the Brothers Gibb '70s hit) and organ/guitar styles. The standout is "Sock Monkey," in which organist Jamie Saft begins with a Ray Manzurek-type lick set in a dance-friendly tempo that stretches out nicely for a few minutes. Likewise, "13.5" is done up as dub/reggae and makes for a nice listen. The Broadway musical song "Pipe Dreams" by Rodgers and Hammerstein is played in an almost unrecognizable fashion. As a bonus, there is a hidden track of "Walk Don't Run" that Tronzo plays in a straightfoward vein to conclude the album.
Although Tronzo occupies a lot of playing time, Granelli's gift appears to be the way he structures the arrangements to give a sense of textural body to these songs. Adding Saft's organ/mellotron provides an almost electronic feel. His style is much closer to rock organ (as in Al Kooper of several decades ago) than anything of jazz origin. Drummer Diego Voglino shows a keen ear for adapting to these various tempos and styles flawlessly.
I don't know if this album should be filed under Acid Jazz'whatever that really is!'or not. I'm certain that this group has a niche audience at a college level who can understand its appeal.
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
Personnel: J.A. Granelli, bass/piccolo bass; David Tronzo, slide guitar; Jamie Saft, organ/mellotron; Diego Voglino, drums; Vanessa Saft, vocal on #8
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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