Joseph Scianni

One Eyed Jack

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After recording an album for the Savoy label in 1963, Joseph Scianni did not record again for more than three decades until 1996, when he made his first of four albums for the CIMP label, a sister of Cadence Jazz Records, under which this recording is issued. As with the other albums, Scianni proves himself here to be an original and exciting voice: Whether navigating his own slippery compositions or deconstructing a familiar melody (such as "Someone to Watch Over Me"), the pianist electrifies with his disjointed approach. He uses both hands fully, focuses on the sound of individual notes, and navigates with an ear toward the future. On "I Got It Bad," to cite one example, Scianni confidently holds the melody in his palm, gently subverting it over the course of the five-and-a-half-minute piece. Saxophonist Blaise Siwula and bassist Hal Onserud sit in on the two longest numbers ("Bordeaux Autumn" and "Serengeti"), with the saxophonist throwing into the pot a handful of effective individual idiosyncrasies such as his slap-tonguing on "Bordeaux Autumn." Considering his predisposition to the avant-garde, Scianni's technique is surprisingly conventional, though the results are no less intriguing. Producer Bob Rusch selects and organizes the tracks well, and the pace successfully avoids tedium. This is a superb introduction to Scianni's work, and in a fair world it ought to be heralded for the outstanding issue that it is.

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