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June 2002

Joe LoCascio Trio
Close To So Far
Heart Music

You want background? Pianist Joe LoCascio was born and raised in the Apple, but in 1977 he defected to Texas, where he requested academic asylum. He now teaches jazz improvisation at Houston Community College and is the author of The Jazz Piano Handbook.

You want credentials? He has performed or recorded with Chet Baker, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Marvin Stamm, Ernie Watts, Dave Liebman and Hank Crawford. This is his 10th CD as a leader, and its title says it all: what does it take to grab the brass ring?

LoCascio's playing, like his writing (all the tracks are his originals), is heady, clean and crisply swinging, and while he describes his writing and playing as "linear," he's downplaying his strongest quality: texture. Listen to the mood he establishes on "Purgatory, TX"; it's ideal for a movie cue. Note how he adds tension to the sensitive waltz "In the Quiet of Autumn," with a series of pedal points; he uses the same effect from the repetitive chords under the impressive drumming of Tim Solook on the title tune. Underscoring LoCascio's writing skills, two gorgeous ballads say it all: "A Goodbye Moment" and "Catherine." As for humor that manages to swing, try "Idiot's Delight," a solo excursion into the genre of tipsy stride.

Uneven engineering occasionally blurs the fine efforts of bassist John Adams. Pity-he's been with LoCascio since 1990 and has developed a solid rapport.

Why isn't the talented LoCascio closer so far?

Originally published in June 2002
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