Giovanni Guidi Trio – This Is The Day
(ECM 470 9271. CD Review by Adrian Pallant)
If you admire expressive watercolour impressionism in contemporary jazz, this album by the trio of Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi, who is thirty this year, with its evocations of fragile, rain-teary washes across a broad, receptive canvas will prove particularly satisfying.
On This Is The Day, Italian pianist Guidi and colleagues Thomas Morgan (double bass) and João Lobo (drums) follow up their 2012 debut City of Broken Dreams with another meditative sequence of diaphanous delicacies, bearing some resemblance to the restrained spirit of Tord Gustavsen or Ketil Bjørnstad. The pianist’s big break came when compatriot trumpeter Enrico Rava was so drawn to his focused, minimalist attributes, at Siena Jazz’s summer school, he decided to include him in his own groups (also recording on the ECM label).
Here, Guidi again reveals his finesse both as trio leader and, for nine of the twelve tracks, composer. He describes his colleagues and his approach thus: “What I really admire about Thomas and João is the depth and intensity with which they approach music of any kind. All the pieces that I write for this group are written with them in mind. Thinking about the characteristics of their playing – free, direct, profound and with a strong emotive element – I try to bring these qualities also into the music that I write.”
Clearly illustrating that aspiration, opening number Trilly ebbs and flows like the gentlest breezes across an Aoleian harp. Softly-brushed cymbals and snare, along with spacial double bass, create the elevation for Guidi’s restrained rubato melodies; and whilst the theme itself is almost of nursery rhyme simplicity, the collaborative, atmospheric effect is spellbinding. Carried Away exudes a decidedly Balkan air of melancholy which, as a night sky, gradually illuminates, coruscating with cymbal, high piano and bass highlights; and Game of Silence‘s weight of emotion suggests the dark, filmic qualities of Italian cinema.
The Cobweb is noticeably freer, as Morgan’s quietly agile, spidery bass weaves its way through heavy, clanging, pianistic outbursts and disturbing percussive flutters before segueing into João Lobo’s Baiiia, where Guidi’s brighter piano motifs attempt to rise above the pervading disquiet. Echoes of Gustavsen are to be found in The Debate, where subtle, bluesy octave melodies roll both prominently and impudently over animated bass and percussion – a welcome moment of esprit.
Central to the sequence is the exquisite tenderness of Guidi’s Where They’d Lived. For over ten minutes, the trio explore the luminous landscape surrounding its memorable, yearning theme which possesses lyrical attributes usually associated with Michel Legrand or John Barry. And the arrangement of Osvaldo Farres’ Quizas quizas quizas (translated, Maybe) smoulders idly until blossoming into playful Cuban elegance, revealing delightful individual detail from each of the players.
Brief, turbulent Migration leads to a mistier variation of opening tune Trilly, – and then, interesting to hear this trio’s take on Livingston/Malneck standard I’m Through With Love – typically wispy, yet with a cheerful resignation which provides a glimpse of Guidi’s potential for something more sprightly. To close, his pictorial The Night It Rained Forever lashes descriptively at the windows, Morgan’s ominous, sustained arco bass providing its drama until, finally… quiet peace.
For much of its 74 minutes, This Is The Day rarely breaks out of its state of subdued equilibrium. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to treat it as background, and to miss its subtle sublimity.