Guidi/Petrella/Sclavis/Cleaver: fat-free jazz

23rd February 2017

Tite: Ida Lupino

Label: ECM

I got to know Ida Lupino (born in London, which was a surprise to me) through my liking of the legendary Hollywood actor, Humphrey Bogart. I’m a bit of a Bogie fan, in that respect. Lupino appeared in a couple of his films: They Drive by Night and the superb High Sierra. Apart from being a superb actress, excelling in dramatic roles, she was that rarest if things in golden age Hollywood, a fully fledged director. She was quite a gal, as they say.

Jazz pianist, composer and bandleader Carla Bley knew it too when she composed the music entitled just that, Ida Lupino. A rambling and rather thoughtful tune, its a nice homage to this respected creative figure plus a nod to Bley on her 80th birthday (Petrella once played in a big band under Carla’s direction). Carla’ husband, Paul, was also a big influence on Guidi.

Not only have pianist Giovanni Guidi and trombonist Gianluca Petrella, important contemporaries of the “golden age” of Italian jazz decide to cover that same song but they have given this album that very title. A nice touch.

They appear together with US drummer Gerald Cleaver and French clarinetist Louis Sclavis plus tunes composed by Giovanni and Gianluca.

The style of the album can be described by the track, Gato!, composed by Guodi and Petrella with help from Cleaver. A track that plays with time, space and silence, that allows notes to travel and encourages the ear to follow. An almost ambient arrangement that is contemplative, never bland, always incisive and presented without an ounce of fat hanging off it. This is thoughtful and direct jazz, sometimes building and playing with your emotions but always proving that you really don’t have to produce fireworks to make a point.