Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Frank Portolese: Last Call

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

This Chicago-based guitarist plays straightahead jazz with more than a few twists. First there’s his somewhat eccentric, bright but compressed-sounding tone, which has a decidedly retro vibe. Then there are the sometimes-disjointed phrases that he manages to keep in the air like a juggler lofting a combination of ping-pong and bowling balls. It all contrasts and conflicts with his penchant for long, fluid lines. Whether he’s taking a grooving approach to a tune like “Milestones” or rendering a moody ballad like “Virgo,” his ability to develop intriguing phrases, which use space instead of fill it, carries the day. Portolese also has a knack for picking material, most of which is mainstream with a hard-bop bent. “Burn Unit,” an original, however, introduces an element of craziness as it moves from pointillistic interaction with the rhythm section to frantic, blistering blowing. Two different but capable supporting groups are featured throughout, except on the title track, a soulful free-flowing blues sans accompaniment.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.