Red Cube(d)

Guillermo Gregorio Trio

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Red Cube(d) Review

by Thom Jurek

One of the most interesting things about this solo date of Guillermo Gregorio -- late of Franz Koglmann's Pipetet - is how similar his original music sounds to Mat Maneri's. There is no doubt they are kindred spirits, given that they both hold contemporary classical music and jazz in a double bind, forcing them ever closer together despite the individual resistance of each music. Both are also keen improvisers who believe in the power of understatement and rounded edges -- and Maneri is a violinist! All of this said, this is a curiously beautiful recording. Maybe it's the abstraction and montage technique used on Gregorio's originals such as "Slipped Fifths," "Woodchopper's Nightmare," or "Red Skies," in which the strange becomes familiar, or the melodic. Or perhaps it's asymmetrical, dissonant readings of the classics here, such as Fletcher Henderson's "Red Dust," Red Norvo and Flip Phillips' "1-2-3-Jump!," or "Chu's Specter: Ghost of a Chance" written by Bing Crosby and cohorts. No matter, the record is somewhat disorienting, though charmingly so. A lot will be made of how new this all is. What is new is that a record by a trio such as this would be made at all. Here are three very understated payers, performing a difficult brand of musical hijinks, where improvisation, compositions, and different classifications attempt to become one, rather than co-exist as comfortable opposites. The odd timbres and overtones created by Maneri's violin playing counterpoint to both Gregorio and Karayorgis simultaneously are lovely, as are Gregorio's instincts: he knows just when to let the melody through between harmonies -- which shift -- and improvisation. It's obvious he longs to be an arranger -- and should be. But this is music that is tender yet not mature enough to speak with a full voice. It's a good bet that the well will get much deeper before too long.

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