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Giovanni Guidi: City of Broken Dreams

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Here’s a trio that stands apart from the pack. Teamed with the brilliant young American bassist Thomas Morgan and Portuguese drummer João Lobo, 28-year-old Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi makes spare, haunting music that draws you in deeper with each listen. Guidi’s first album as a leader for ECM-the perfect label for his airy, open sound-City of Broken Dreams does more with less than any album in quite some time.

This trio never breaks a sweat-the rhythmically jagged, shape-shifting “No Other Possibility” comes closest-but the album, comprising folk-style tunes, waltzes and classically informed reflections, is never lacking in the sort of quiet intensity that is a challenge to sustain. Built on a four-note figure, “The Forbidden Zone” offsets its wistful melody with subtly threatening colors, as if touched by an approaching storm. “Ocean View” boasts a calypso tinge. “Leonie” has a subdued gospel feel. Throughout, the music gains color and depth through the interplay between Guidi’s gentle, languid phrasing and Morgan’s deep, singing tones.

City of Broken Dreams is something of a departure for Guidi. Though his 2006 debut was a trio effort, he is best known for his work with trumpet great Enrico Rava and two very different ensembles of his own: the 10-piece Unknown Rebel Band (including Lobo) and an international quintet including Morgan, Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella and Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake. The seamless transition from the latter group’s lyrical album, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, to the new one tells us that Guidi is an artist with a vision.

Originally Published