Monday, October 15, 2007

Jay Azzolina – Local Dialect (Garagista, 2007)

Guitarist and composer Azzolina brought together some improvising musician friends for his new album of contemporary jazz. His plan for this LP was to move away from a set theme for the recording, and to record as the spirit moved him. Among the musicians joining him on this recording are John Patitucci on bass, Larry Goldings on organ, and Greg Hutchinson on drums. “Friends of Friends” begins the recording with a medium-up tempo featuring clean sounding guitar and very up-front drumming. “Between Thoughts” opens with snapping drums and moves into a fast paced complex improvisation with a more sour tone on the guitar. Larry Goldings accompanies lightly and then steps up the volume during his solo. “Angel’s Dance” is a delicate song of acoustic guitar and vocalese. “Acceptance” swing one hundred and eighty degrees the other way, with Azzolina’s guitar soloing over a drum machine. This is the only real out-and-out misfire of the disc. He sounds oddly detached from the phony beat, and the tune ends abruptly too, as if Azzolina or the producers realized it hasn’t happening and cut it short. It probably should have been left off the record. The disc wraps up with a couple of nice performances featuring organ and guitar. “Mind Your Mind” opens a swaying organ groove that is solid hard-bop organ jazz, with Goldings taking a more Larry Young like approach than a “grits ‘n’ gravy” sound like Jimmy Smith or Brother Jack McDuff. “Exit Strategy” finishes things up with a medium-up tempo (his most comfortable) with the organ rounded to accompany solos, and an active drums solo with guitar chording underneath. This was a moderately successful album of contemporary jazz. I thought the tracks with Larry Goldings playing organ were the most interesting, the band achieved something akin to the feel of the Grant Green – Larry Young albums of the mid 1960’s. It would be great to hear this expanded upon over a full album.

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