William Gagliardi

NHLAHLA

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William Gagliardi is on fire, and his brand of hard bop, which punches with unmitigated intensity, soars with an uncommon singularity. Leading a hugely compatible quintet through seven original numbers, the tenor saxophonist brings a unique blend of sophisticated charm that digs deep into the essence of tunes with unique hooks. It helps to have the caliber of performer found here, such as the charmingly ragged sounds of trumpet giant John Carlson or the propulsive drumming of Lou Grassi. There is not a weak moment to be found: Gagliardi's compositions sparkle with exotic angularity, while the uniformly impressive improvisations from every member of the group spring forth with a disarmingly graceful cohesiveness. Even on the lazy "Glitches in the Sky," the perfect intonation of the horns in reciting the quirky melody, coupled with the rawness of Carlson's solo, followed by Ken Wessel on electric guitar, lead to unexpected results. Those who have not heard Gagliardi's brand of new bop should be pleasantly surprised by the results, which continually enthrall. The intricate arrangements dip into the wells of 1950s Ornette Coleman, with Gagliardi's tone somewhat thicker and Carlson's style a throwback to Don Cherry. To its credit, the music never stands still, with surprising resolutions the norm. Gagliardi eschews cliché, with collective improvisation an important tool in his arsenal. Best of all, there is no telling where he might develop a tune; rarely does he pursue the course of least resistance, instead opting for relaxed and often stunning results. Not to be missed, this recording has all the elements of a winner: original melodies and arrangements, great solos, and superb engineering.

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