Be-Bop! Pasquale Grasso
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- 1A Night in Tunisia05:59
- 3Ruby, My Dear04:25
- 4Shaw 'Nuff04:01
- 5I'm in a Mess02:54
- 9Lamento Della Campagnia03:03
- 10Groovin' High04:37
Info for Be-Bop!
Following the extraordinary success of guitar virtuoso Pasquale Grasso’s digital showcase series, which launched in 2019 and includes Solo Standards, Solo Ballads, Solo Holiday, and tributes to jazz royalty Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Sony Music Masterworks is set to release Be-Bop!, a brilliant new tribute to be-bop pioneers Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. This will be the Italian-born Grasso’s sixth album for SONY Music Masterworks
Be-Bop! kicks off in exhilarating fashion with today’s release of Dizzy’s quintessential composition, “A Night in Tunisia,” originally composed in 1942 when he was a member of Benny Carter’s band and which marked the beginning of Gillespie’s unique blending of Afro-Cuban rhythms with American jazz. Grasso achieves an astonishing balance of technical wizardry and swing, sounding like two guitarists coming out of the gate on the challenging head on top of the syncopated Latin rhythm. And his fleet-fingered solo break at the 1:03 mark is in the breathtaking tradition of Charlie Parker’s famous alto sax break from his 1946 Dial recording of the tune. Pasquale’s stream of single notes that follows for the next two minutes in his solo is even more astounding, brimming with rare facility and abandon to match his fertile imagination. Roland also turns in an animated bowed bass solo here while Balla engages in some slick trades with the leader near the end of the piece. Finally, catch Grasso’s brief dazzling quote from one of Paganini’s Caprices (the extremely difficult No. 24 in A minor) in the coda.
Backed by his working trio of bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla, the trio is in sync through super-up-tempo, challenging fare like “Shaw ‘Nuff,” “Groovin’ High,” “Cheryl,” “Ornithology” and “Be-bop,” whereas they settle into a more relaxed vibe on Thelonious Monk’s gorgeous ballad “Ruby, My Dear.” Parker’s “Quasimodo” is another relaxed mid-tempo number, featuring superb octave playing by Grasso and a brilliant bowed solo by Roland, and the trio takes its time on the lush “Lamento Della Campagnia,” based on the Billie Holiday torch song “Some Other Spring.” As the 33-year-old Grasso explained, “I had a tough time last year and Billie’s version of ‘Some Other Spring’ got me through some hard times, so I decided to record it.”
Special guest vocalist Samara Joy, who has been collaborating with Pasquale since 2020, appears on one track, the jivey mid-tempo swinger “I’m in a Mess” (originally sung by Joe Carroll on Gillespie’s 1951 album, School Days). “She’s incredibly talented and I’m happy to perform with her night after night,” Grasso said. “We’re having a lot of fun together.”
Pasquale Grasso, guitar
Ari Roland, double bass
Keith Balla, drums
Samara Joy, vocals
One of the most strikingly unique artists of his generation, Pasquale Grasso has undoubtedly changed the way the world views jazz guitar. Born in Ariano Irpino, Pasquale began playing guitar at a very young age. By the summer of 1997, his parents, who recognized the depth of their young son’s talent, sought out the instruction of jazz innovator, Agostino Di Giorgio. A former pupil of Chuck Wayne, Di Giorgio immediately took interest in Pasquale, whose prodigious aptitude for the instrument flourished as the young guitarist quickly became his closest pupil. From that point, it wouldn’t be long before news of this talent spread.
Barry Harris, the world-renowned jazz educator and bebop piano master, became an extraordinary influence when Pasquale attended his jazz workshop in Switzerland during the summer of 1998. Harris, contemporary of Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, and Cannonball Adderley, took Pasquale and his brother, Luigi, under his wing. Over the span of the next 5 years, the Grasso brothers became pillars of Harris’ international workshops and were quickly promoted from mere attendees to instructors for the other students. Pasquale was named Harris' guitar teaching assistant and for the last ten years he has conducted workshops in Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Holland, and Slovenia.
In 2008, Pasquale pursued classical guitar studies in the Music Conservatory of Bologna under Professor Walter Zanetti. During his time at the conservatory, Grasso developed a new approach to the guitar, combining classical tradition with Chuck Wayne's modern technique.
In 2012, he moved to New York City and quickly made a name for himself in the city's vibrant jazz scene. Grasso became part of the Ari Roland Quartet and the Chris Byars Quartet, performing in clubs, music festivals, and recording in the studio regularly. Later that year, Pasquale was named a Jazz Ambassador with the US Embassy, going on to tour extensively across Europe, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, among others. Despite his young age, Grasso has performed with many leading musicians of the international jazz scene such as: Barry Harris, Charles Davis, Freddie Redd, Frank Wess, Leroy Williams, Ray Drummond, Murray Wall, Steve Grossman, Tardo Hammer, Jimmy Wormworth, John Mosca, Sacha Perry, Ari Roland, Luigi Grasso, Chris Byars, Zaid Nasser, Bucky Pizzarelli, China Moses, Harry Allen Quartet, Grant Stewart, Stepko Gut, Nicolas Dary, Dado Moroni, Agostino di Giorgio, Michel Pastre Big Band, Gianni Basso Big Band, Joe Cohn, Oscar Zenari, and Luca Pisani.
Pasquale’s guitar was expertly crafted for him by long time friend and luthier, Bryant Trenier. Trenier Guitars is located in Suffern, New York.
Pasquale is currently Sony Masterwork artist and he is teaching at SUNY Purchase College of Music.
This album contains no booklet.