The Jerry Granelli Trio

Plays Vince Guaraldi & Mose Allison
RareNoise RNR 0114

Jerry Granelli has provided a great musical service. Taking listeners away from numberless recorded salutes to Jazz stars like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, the Halifax-based drummer’s trio focuses on lesser known innovators. While singer-pianist Mose Allison (1927-2016) and pianist Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) may not be household names, even among Jazz families, each made a noticeable impression on the music. As well, Granelli, who recasts the material alongside bassist Bradley Christopher Jones and pianist Jamie Saft, has the best motive for this salute: he was the drummer in Guaraldi and Allison’s trios in the 1960s or 1970s.

The reputation of Allison whose hipster ditties were recorded by everyone from the Clash to the Who is more secure than Guaraldi’s, usually is only known for composing the music for the 17 animated specials featuring Peanuts’ Charlie Brown. But the pianist was a working Jazzer, whose early interest in the Bossa Nova gave him a legitimate Jazz “hit” with “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” in 1963. It’s this tune which begins this album. However the trio recasts the familiar melody as a languid, funky foot tapper with buzzing bass and drum crunches.

Still it’s Allison-affiliated tunes which give greater improvisational scope. For instance “Your Mind Is on Vacation” become a full-on swinger replete with Blues runs and piano accents that roll down the scale. Meanwhile “Parchman Farm” gets its rhythm from double bass thumps and drum thwacks as Saft sprays glissandi and emphasizes keyboard bottom pressure before spinning back to the head, further decorated with a thumping bass string coda. Interestingly as well “Young Man Blues” is recast with a cylindrical lead-in from Jones that becomes the sort of night-club Blues both pianists could have played. On the other hand the two variants of “Mind Prelude” featuring just the bassist and Granelli, confirm the musicians’ unforced modernism. Light snare pats and cymbal vibrations share space with string twangs played with the facility of an electric bass.

Except for a rather treacle-laden version of “Christmas Time Is Here”, which luckily is the final track, there are few drawbacks to the CD. Additionally it brings back to wider currency the music of two pianists who aren’t celebrated enough.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Cast Your Fate to the Wind 2. Parchman Farm 3. Baby Please Don’t Go 4. Mind Prelude 1 5. Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy 6. Star Song 7. Young Man Blues 8. Mind Prelude 2 9. Your Mind Is On Vacation 10. Christmas Time Is Here

Personnel: Jamie Saft (piano); Bradley Christopher Jones (bass) and Jerry Granelli (drums)