Jazz Guitar Duo - Live Recording - NYC
Joe Giglio/Joe Diorio
Liner Notes by Bill Milkowski
A steadfast champion of jazz guitar duos –- a longstanding tradition that goes back to the first Eddie Lang/Lonnie Johnson collaborations from the late ‘20s (“Guitar Blues,” “Handful of Riffs”) and has continued through the decades with such modern pairings as John Scofield & John Abercrombie (1982’s Solar), George Van Eps & Howard Alden (1992’s Hand-Crafted Swing) and Jim Hall & Bill Frisell (2009’s Hemispheres) – Joe Giglio organized a regular Friday night hang for his fellow plectrists at 107 West, an intimate restaurant in his Upper West Side neighborhood that served as the primary scene for guitar aficionados in New York City for eight years. During that period, Giglio played duos with a whole fraternity of accomplished, swinging and like-minded players as Jack Wilkins, Howard Alden, Paul Bollenback, Peter Bernstein, Carl Berry and others.
On one memorable occasion in May 2004, jazz guitar master Joe Diorio made it down to 107 West to play duets with Giglio, and the two Joes established rare chemistry through the course of their harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated extrapolations on familiar jazz standards. That one-time performance, documented here on Rainbow Shards, is underscored by uncanny finesse on ballads and bristling with an exuberant, uninhibited swing feel on the up tempo numbers. It stands with some of the finest examples in the guitar duo genre and also represents one the last recordings that the great Joe Diorio made before being sidelined in 2005 by a stroke that robbed him of full use of his left hand.
While the 73-year-old guitar great has been on the mend, going through a rigorous physical rehab regimen, ever-so-slowly making progress on the road to recovery, Rainbow Shards captures Diorio in full command of his powers, swinging and burning up the fretboard with a beautiful balance of technical mastery and sheer abandon. And Giglio rises to the occasion with some inspired six-string work of his own
The two Joes open with a jaunty, loosely swinging rendition of Henry Mancini’s melancholy “Days of Wine and Roses” with Diorio’s warm-toned, velvety-smooth lines flowing on top of Giglio’s insistent comping. They switch roles midway through as Diorio supplies dreamy chord voicings behind Giglio’s linear burn. When Diorio returns for his second solo through the last two-minutes of the piece, he blows over the barline with a sense of ease and melodic ingenuity until the piece reaches its sublime conclusion.
The oft-recorded jazz standard “Body and Soul” is handled here as a gently insinuating bossa nova, with Giglio’s rhythmic chording underscoring Diorio’s elegant melody line. By the 4-minute mark the two begin opening up the piece and at the 6-minute mark, as Giglio drops out, Diorio takes off on a daring right-brain solo extrapolation on the theme. Giglio returns at the 7:45 mark with a brief unaccompanied statement of his own before Diorio begins comping lightly beneath him with a myriad of beautiful chord voicings through the next four-plus minutes of Giglio’s solo. They return to the head and take it out just as they had begun, in subtle samba fashion with Diorio blowing over the changes in his inimitable style, culminating in a short burst of furious speed licks at the tag before a sublime finish.
Sammy Cahn’s “You Or No One” is taken at a brisk clip, with Giglio carrying the melody first over Diorio’s lush chord work before opening up with a fleet-fingered solo. They switch roles at 4:40 and Diorio begins his solo with a bit of restraint before erupting with a fusillade of notes by the 5:30 mark. They interpret Luiz Bonfa’s melancholy bossa nova “Black Opheus” with tenderness and a touch of reverence for the original. Diorio’s unaccompanied intro simultaneously states and extrapolates on the theme, drawing on his vast harmonic language. Giglio enters at the 2:45 mark and they head into some intricate counterpoint playing that runs through the 5-minute mark before Diorio commences some freewheeling fretboard excursions. At the 7-minute mark, Giglio begins exploring in daring, unaccompanied fashion, alternating between rich chord voicings and deftly-spun single note lines. Diorio comps gently behind him at the 9-minute mark and returns to his opening role of playing the melody over Giglio’s changes through the remainder of the piece. Their expansive treatment is book-ended with Diorio’s two-minutes of gently introspective unaccompanied guitar that ends in a hush.
The two Joes close out this telepathic session with an inventive take on “Out of Nowhere,” a romantic nugget introduced in 1931 by a young crooner named Bing Crosby. Their two-guitar version opens as a kind of fugue, with one guitarist shadowing the other, before they settle into the familiar form on this jazz standard, swinging the changes to a rousing climax while interweaving complex lines along the way. Diorio feeds Giglio with sly, shifting chord voicings before launching into an adventurous, unaccompanied solo of his own that he gradually develops to some impressionistic heights of six-string fantasia. And they return to the subdued fugue for the outro, putting a pretty bow on this gift to all guitar fans.
Says Giglio of his intimate encounter with the revered guitarist: "It is an honor to know and make music with Joe Diorio. He has been an inspiration to me since I started to play jazz and his influence is more profound with each passing day. Joe has helped me to reach a deeper level in my expression, both through his playing and his deep insights into life. He has reached a zenith through deep inquiry and love."
Those qualities come into play in a big way on this highly intuitive session that has both players pushing the harmonic envelope and nonchalantly flashing technical virtuosity on the fretboard while remaining wide open and strictly in the moment.