Gaetano Valli


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Gaetano Valli is a guitarist, composer, and bandleader that comes out of the Billy Bauer and Wes Montgomery schools of jazz guitar. He is always smooth and articulate, and compositionally balanced, especially in group settings. This set showcases Valli's compositions in groups everything from duets to quintets with a rotating group of musicians. His use of a semi-acoustic guitar creates a resonance and warmth in his playing that many don't possess, especially since he plays it like he would a Gibson Byrdland. From the opener, "Paludi," his swinging, arpeggiated harmonics are in evidence: they are rooted in the blues and gypsy swing, and they play in constant harmony with the horns and keyboards rather than contrapuntally. The music is very smooth yet interesting because of its intricate changes and dimensional sonorities, which offer a different read on whoever is soling at any given moment. He takes things outside in the off minor, bebop science fiction tune "Auguri Tatiana," but as the staccato notes come flying off the neck, just as a level of intensity happens where something unexpected may happen, he brings it back into then familiar blues/tango/film noirish shuffle that so many tunes here have. And that is the difficulty in listening to the entire recording, one tune begins to bleed into another after awhile, making it very difficult -- even in trio and quartet settings to distinguish one track from the next. The playing is awesome, perhaps too much so for its own good. Next time out they should go for less safety, more rough edges.

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