Giordano Grossi – Old Stories (2012)

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In the liner notes for Old Stories by Italian bassist and composer Giordano Grossi, the narrator cautions listeners not to get so hung up on “technique” or a “’serious’ introduction about chords and rhythms.” The music in this record isn’t trying to impress you with that. Rather, she states, there’s something more important at play here: an emotion.

Such a greeting might in itself give listeners pause. Are we being warned not to focus on technique because it’s lacking? But that is not the case for Old Stories, the technique is fine; the point, as becomes clear when you listen to this album, is that technique is not used as a proxy for emotion.

The answer for conveying emotion came easily for Giodano Grossi because all he had to do was leverage his own culture. His quartet, with Nelide Bandello on drums, but also Fabio Rossato on accordion and Matteo Turella on guitar, blends American jazz with the romantic, traditional music of Italy, so the passion comes by naturally. This isn’t the loud or animated kind of passion; it’s the quiet, reserved kind.

Just as advertised in those liner notes, no one is playing with any fleet-fingered fancy, but they are investing the right notes at the right times. The gentle confidence shows on a song like “Super8” (YouTube below) that, like many of Grossi’s songs on this disc, is charming without trying so hard to be that way. Grossi’s solo on that track is so precise and melodic in a folksy, Charlie Haden kind of way. The even-tempered mood continues on “New Orleans Funeral,” a dirge, to be sure, but with just enough blues flavor on top of Bandello’s shuffles to keep the song moving along.

The album does have its perky moments, like the Latin-tinged “Tacabanda”, but doesn’t really swing that much, except for the light waltz “Little Piera” and especially the blues “Clochard,” where Bandello’s drums swing with a lot of verve, too.

Grossi adds two covers to his eight originals, both commendable selections. Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold” is played fairly straight, with Rossato’s accordion a logical substitute to the harmonica of the original, and he stretches out nicely over Young’s classic folk melody. Grossi’s finest moment, however, comes on the second cover. Miles Davis had so brilliantly stripped down Joe Zawinul’s “In A Silent Way” to its beautiful core and Grossi, with his grounded bass, tells the same heartfelt story with only the necessary notes and no more.

And that…that, is the meaning of emotion, making any notion of aptitude superfluous.

Old Stories is made available by Piccola Orchestra Records. Visit Giordano Grossi’s website for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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