Just like most of his peers, Bill Gagliardi is building a discography brick by inexorable brick. He breaks ranks from their number with the realization that his activity in the studio has only born commercially released fruit in the past few years. Why the late ingress to the scene? Reasons are vague, but seem to stem from Gagliardi's ambivalent attitude toward the custom. For him performing and creating in the absence of microphones isn’t necessarily preferential, it’s more a case of being inconsequential. The thrill and sustenance comes from the music itself, not whether it’s preserved for posterity.
Fortunately his casual disposition has sharpened recently and yielded a small handful of dates. This disc presents the second half of single session at CIMP’s Spirit Room from summer of last year. The first part was released earlier this year as NHLAHLA and pulled in praise from a cross-section of critics. Happily this set is just as strong and features seven more originals from the Gagliardi quill brought to life by his regular working quintet. The same off the cuff humor is also present in various tune titles such as the playfully cringe-worthy “Wu Wei Baby.”
Gagliardi wears his love of Trane hung proudly and prominently from the bells of his horns, blowing in a robust vernacular that references the saxophone doyen without paying lip service. As if in answer to his own query “Where is Trane,” a track the holds true the spirit if thankfully not the letter of the legacy, he seems to pointing in a definitive direction. “Soul Ain’t Got No Bones” sounds like a sheaf from the Ornette songbook, with a twisting piebald head that opens up into a jogging bass-driven rhythm ripe and accommodating for solos. Carlson takes first honors, loosing a peppery spray of notes that soon defers to Gagliardi’s tenor. The latter balances bulging muscle with a steady and tempered style of phrasing. Hofstra keeps up a knuckle-cracking pace on his strings tugging out a bulbous ostinato, but Grassi is surprisingly laidback, accenting instead of pushing with his sticks. He adopts an equally judicious stance on “Forgettaboutit,” a tune rich in hard bop trappings that opens up to yield plenty of solo space. The verbal grunts of encouragement captured along with the music by the microphones add to the ambiance of a genial jam session.
Wessel assumes center stage (or living room carpet as it were) on “Surfin’ the Tigrus,” constructing a long-form statement across a rolling wave motion backdrop churned up by Hofstra and Grassi. His teardrop single note lines and gentlely shimmering volume effects keep the tune’s tonal center in flux. Gagliardi’s keening soprano adds to the Old World Arabic flavor. “Exhaltation” arrives as an energizing last call and the five men take things out on a suitably high note—you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Here’s hoping that Gagliardi’s corner creative music speakeasy is open again soon for business.
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.