Paul Giallorenzo Trio

Delmark DE 5026

One of the drawbacks of even the so-called Jazz business focusing on what passes for superstars in its narrow milieu is that equally accomplished players aren’t better known. Case in point is Chicago pianist Paul Giallorenzo. A unique and accomplished city fixture associated with stylists like Mars William and Jason Stein, he has recorded several outstanding CDs in various configurations, but his appreciation is mostly local.

Flow, his take on the classic Jazz piano trio legacy is again first rate, but whether it will change his status is problematic. Working with bassist Joshua Abrams, known as leader of the Natural Information Society (NIS) and drummer Mikel Patrick Avery, who also plays in NIS, Giallorenzo exposes nine of his own compositions which juxtapose the unique and unexpected with an unvarying sense of swing and affability, Polymetrical and responsive, at first the pieces seem to be fully in the established night club piano tradition, which includes such Windy City masters as John Young and Jodie Christian. But sly interpolations turn many of them into musical palimpsests, with spry countermelodies peeking from the perimeters.

At the same time, aided by Avery’s rat-tat-tats and percussion add-ons and Abrams’ on target pacing and woody sweeps, the pianist’s tunes can be enjoyed for their outwards sound. “Rolling” is one of those Bobby Timmons-Ray Bryant-styled Blues that mix a Boppy overlay with unselfconscious swing where the elasticized phrasing is constantly extended. Built on a walking bass line, “over/under” has an echoing theme which is subtly recapped by Giallorenzo after a relaxed double bass fill and some doubled ruffs from Avery. Even the set’s so-called ballad, “darkness” never becomes limpid or lachrymose. Instead it saunters along, making its point with insinuated color, wedded to an outpouring of melody. Toying with a sequence of artfully chosen patterns, the pianist makes “flipd scrip” the lengthiest instance of his skill, isolating an unfolding groove with one hand and decorating it with the other hand. Almost finger-snapping, the tune’s comparable urbanity is illustrated by Abrams’ wobbling and warbling string vibrations until Giallorenzo’s staccato feints brings back the head.

Another high-quality CD, Flow will add more momentum to Giallorenzo’s career. But whether it allows him to flow into other areas if he wishes is the question left unanswered.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. a-frolick-ing 2. fractures 3. rolling 4. interstice 5. over/under 6. flipd scrip 7. darkness 8. lightness 9. a way we go

Personnel: Paul Giallorenzo (piano); Joshua Abrams (bass) and Mikel Patrick Avery (drums)