The most competitive instrument in jazz is piano. It is not easy for new jazz pianists to get on the radar in the United States. If they live in Italy and work mostly in Europe, it is much harder. Therefore make a note of this name: Giovanni Guidi.
He is not exactly new. In 2006, when he was 21, he was artist-in-residence at the Umbria Jazz festival in Perugia, Italy’s biggest annual jazz event. That same year he released his debut recording, Tomorrow Never Knows, on Venus. He already sounded like Giovanni Guidi. The music has his dark left-hand chords and his jagged percussiveness. It has his poetic right-hand single-note lyricism. It has his rarefied harmonic sensibility. Most impressively, it has his control of narrative tension. On the opening track, “Sleep Safe and Warm,” Guidi’s clenched hesitations create one of the most dramatic versions on record of Krzysztof Komeda’s haunting song.