Album Reviews

Paul Giallorenzo Trio


Artist:     Paul Giallorenzo Trio

Album:     Flow

Label:     Delmark

Release Date:     12.15.17



With more room to roam in his newly formed jazz minimalist trio, adventurous Chicago pianist Paul Giallorenzo steps to the fore on Flow. Deftly manipulating chords like a puppet master and executing tricky runs and unpredictable solos with stylish panache, Giallorenzo evokes comparisons to Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and other giants on an album of bewildering intricacy, melodic intrigue and cool intimacy.

When Flow swings, as it does with the upbeat, genial “A-Frolick-Ing” and the big, bouncy closer “A Way We Go,” the wheels move effortlessly, as bassist Joshua Adams and drummer Mikel Patrick Avery provide the easy propulsion backing Giallorenzo’s playful skitters and jabs. Eschewing colorful flamboyance, the three opt instead to operate with smooth sobriety and surgical exactness, while still experimenting with inverted, inside-out changes and polytonal mischief. And yet, for such a serious endeavor, there are moments of genuine amusement.

The creeping, herky-jerky rhythms of the aptly named “Fractures” are delightfully disjointed, as the threesome continuously shift into different speeds. The sheer elegance and richness of “Rolling” breaks apart and goes off-kilter, before it is made whole again, and even as the schizophrenic ivory tinkling of “Interstice” flies off into an improvisational free-for-all, it feels like controlled chaos.

Flow could easily sit shoulder to shoulder with much-revered jazz records of the late 1950s, especially with the immersive, smoky ballad “Darkness” serving as its lonesome centerpiece. The playing is economical, and yet the trio, at times, unleashes torrents of notes. Used infrequently, but to wondrous effect, there are soft bursts and flourishes of drums, little watery pools of piano and manic bowed strings that add interesting touches here and there. Maybe Flow can redefine what jazz minimalism is all about.

—Peter Lindblad


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