Joe Giardullo – soprano sax
Recorded 24 April 2004 at Klub Re, Krakow, Poland. Engineer: Andrzej “Murzyn” Stepien. Cover photo by Bartek Winiarski. Many thanks to Marek Winiarski, Grzegorz Kwiecien, Anna Zoladek, Bartek Winiarski, and Andrzej Zaleski.
Most sincere gratitude to Dawid Kosiarkiewicz, an important musician and wonderful friend, who first introduced me to Poland.
Tracklist: 1. Channeling [10:55] 2. Weather [18:49] 3. Times Change [13:20] 4. A Love Supreme [11:27]
Solo soprano saxophone albums
in so-called free improv are surprisingly frequent these days (think Alessandro Bosetti, John Butcher, Stéphane Rives, Michel Doneda…) but in jazz they’re still relatively rare, probably because the musicians concerned don’t exactly relish being compared to Steve Lacy, whose work still remains something a benchmark in the genre, albeit an idiosyncratic one. In fact the distinction I’m trying to draw is a rather silly, maybe even nonexistent one, insofar as three of the four pieces on offer on Weather are marked as Joe Giardullo “compositions” (though they sound pretty open and improvised to me). The fourth track though is most definitely a composition, and a well-known one too: Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” (rather sloppy titling, that: in fact it’s “Acknowledgment”). Giardullo, taking advantage of an intimate acoustic and attentive audience in Cracow’s Klub Re (home base for Not Two’s Marek Winiarski), seeks to lift Coltrane’s work gingerly down from the ridiculously high pedestal on which it’s been placed over recent years and return it to the domain of the personal, the introspective.
It’s a lonely business, playing solo, especially if you happen to choose a theme that everyone in the room knows well enough to imagine the harmony of (which is probably why the vast majority of solo horn albums don’t contain cover versions). Joe Giardullo might be pleased to read – though I’m sure he knows it already – that I hear hardly any Lacy in his work at all, either in terms of structure – he’s far more rhapsodic and given to flights of fancy than the clinically precise (though never cold) Lacy – or sound. Lacy’s sound, like John Coltrane’s on the instrument, was fat, round and rich, while Giardullo’s is leaner, more fragile and feminine and content to explore the cracks, especially on the beautiful title track, which sustains interest effortlessly over nearly 19 minutes: no mean feat. There is, though, another reference when it comes to soprano sax playing, in the form of Evan Parker, particularly his legendary circular breathing outings, and hearing Giardullo try his hand at the same sort of thing on “Times Change” – albeit using harmony that sounds more like Phil Glass – leads to a twinge of regret. Not much of a twinge though, as it’s still a fine, coherent and impressive piece from an album well worth hunting down. — Dan Warburton
Joe Giardullo | Photo by Fionn Reilly
(Brooklyn, NY- 1948 ) is a soprano saxophonist/ composer whose work encompasses avant jazz, new complexity, indeterminate and new music genres.
Although he began his music studies in elementary school, he is primarily a self-taught instrumentalist, with isolated studies with Don Cherry and Leo Smith. However, in 1967 he began his study of Indian music .Those studies, over a period of seven years, became primarily focused on rhythm. At the conclusion of those studies Joe began intensive private study of the Lydian Chromatic Theory of Tonal Organization as developed by composer George Russell.
In 1976, Joe began composing what he considered to be “experimental” works; those pieces remained unplayed for 2 years. A chance meeting, however, with pianist Paul Bley, resulted in a recording of those compositions, collectively called GRAVITY (1979), works for Creative Chamber Ensemble. That recording met with both commercial indifference and critical acclaim.
At the same time, unknown to Joe, his Indian music teacher sent copies of the Gravity scores to Nadia Boulanger, her former teacher. Madame Boulanger responded by inviting Joe to attend her classes at the Paris Conservatoire. However, Joe’s circumstances prohibited him from attending.
From 1977 to 1980, Joe divided his time between New York and Europe, working on his Gravity compositions in private and publicly performing as an avant jazz instrumentalist. He became involved with the composer Anthony Braxton, doing pre-production work on Braxton’s MUSIC FOR FOUR ORCHESTRAS (Arista) and through his association with Braxton, became familiar with the work of Stockhausen and Berio, among others. Joe received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1979, sponsored by Mr. Braxton.
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