CIMP artists are notorious for coming up with some of the most eclectic and esoteric composition names in creative improvised music. William Gagliardi shoots for a new standard on his first entry as a leader for the label turning with a clutch of titles that exude equal parts idiosyncrasy and mystery. As it turns out the saxophonist’s personal history is as colorful and diverse as his appellative sense. Making stops in locales as diverse as Puerto Rico, Norway and India in his younger globetrotting travels he developed a freethinking life philosophy that in turn funnels directly into the explicit emotionalism of his music. His partners on this long overdue debut share similar perspectives and together they convert the riddle-like phrases of the tune titles into analogously equivocal music.
Jumping from linear melodicism to oblique intervallic bursts the leader bridges the spans between what is still referred to as “inside” and “outside” styles in some circles with fluid ease. On the opening tongue twister “Encryptic Hip Bob (that he is)” a syncopated vamp serves as trampoline for the players in various solo capacities. Grassi keeps the beat elastic, scrubbing up lather on cymbals and snapping the figurative towel to the toms. “Oli-skt. Wombfire” is sedate by comparison, at least in its opening minutes, which unfold on the gentle chords conscripted by Wessel’s guitar. Gagliardi’s Trane debt cashes in on numerous occasions particularly during the stretches of sound sheets that blanket several of his more boisterous solos. But it’s an obvious influence he never exploits to the point of exorbitance. Hofstra and Grassi stitch a supportive net of harmonic and rhythmic strength on “Bill & his friends…” that makes the said price of the track’s title a bargain by virtually any attuned ear’s estimation. The leader and Wessel take full advantage of the sturdy underpinning churning out harmonically rich lines steeped in emotive energy that bring the mantra of the disc’s title into immediate consideration.
Gagliardi may have shied from record for the majority of his musical career, but his late blooming appearance in the album arena in no way reflects a paucity of talent. Rather than lament his decision listeners becoming acquainted with his highly personal music are more likely to rejoice at what the future holds. I’m happy to count myself among this number of expectant, newly indoctrinated fans.
Track Listing: Encryptic Hip Bob (that he is)/ Oil-skt. Wombfire/ Too dry for tears/ Rootlessness/ 125th & Broadway Aum’n in/ Good lookin’ popular Extemporaneous Combustion/ Bill & his friends Free Jazz $1.99 a lb./ Ear of the behearer/ Eagles fly for Bow Hay, ya, hay, ya/ Sunshine, bright smiles.
Personnel: William Gagliardi- alto, tenor & soprano saxophones; Ken Wessel- guitar; Dave Hofstra- bass; Lou Grassi- drums. Recorded: February 20 & 21, 2001, Rossie, NY.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.