Musicians commonly use certain tricks to demand your attention: they make noise, play powerfully, and exhibit plenty of showmanship. No so for saxophonist Joe Giardullo. His career (till now) has been one away from the spotlight, and therefore beyond popular attention. He has toiled (as an equal partner) in differing bands under Joe McPhee’s name, to some critical acclaim. This year’s two releases have changed his circumstances. Shadow And Light
(released earlier this year) and now Language Of Swans
are both strong arguments for Giardullo to take public credit for his brilliance.
Giardullo’s improvising trio, which includes bassist Chris Sullivan and drummer (and sometimes pianist) Michael Thompson, have made one of those recordings of quiet intensity that demand repeated play. Giardullo’s improvisational approach is easygoing, yet composed. Whether he picks up a flute or a saxophone, he exhibits a folksy sound. Remember, this is is the kind of improvised jazz where pretty isn’t supposed to carry the day. Nevertheless, his gentle approach has the power to elicit sheer joy.
He utilizes the full arsenal of weaponry and style. From the circular breathing alto saxophone of unflagging energy on “Migrations” to his rambling flute on “Early Spring,” Giardullo paints a consistent and coherent picture of a fully realized jazz master musician. His music combines his experience with Joe McPhee and the musical spirit of Evan Parker. Yet he stands alone, much like Eric Dolphy playing with a naive kind-hearted approach. Especially appealing are the bass clarinet tributes to Dolphy on “Fledge” and the title track. Behind the powerful acoustic bass of Sullivan, he brings his muffled instrument to a howl. This consistent and very diverse recording is all within the character of this very talented musician.