Giovanni Guidi Trio: This is the Day

Behind This Is the Day‘s scrim of subtlety, the Giovanni Guidi Trio quietly plays hell with the piano-trio format. Most of the time, drummer Joäo Lobo neither keeps nor accents the beat-he plays free. Bassist Thomas Morgan occasionally plays accents, but is more likely to focus on obbligato or melody. It is up to Guidi, the pianist, to maintain (or imply) a pulse, even as he establishes and improvises on the tunes. It’s music of great audacity, even brilliance.

Even more than the classic Bill Evans trios, Guidi’s is a piano trio with a nominal leader. Morgan, for example, remains high in the mix at all times, rivaling the pianist and often taking control of the ensemble. Guidi hands the reins to the bassist immediately on “Carried Away,” Morgan beginning the performance with a nearly minute-long unaccompanied solo on the 39-bar fantasia. They often seem to alternate roles within the same track; the elegiac “Where They’d Lived” first finds bass shadowing the flowing piano solo, then vice versa, even including a crossover section that puts the instruments somewhere between call-and-response and counterpoint. On “Quizas Quizas Quizas” the trio comes close to playing it straight, until Guidi and Morgan begin interacting such that it’s hard to tell who’s the improviser and who’s the supporter.

As for Lobo, he often seems to recede from his cohorts; unlike them, he takes no solos. But his freeform accompaniment is crucial. It brings a near-occasion of chaos to “I’m Through With Love,” scattering itself until the otherwise cohesive performance seems perpetually on the brink of entropy. When Guidi himself breaks free on “The Debate,” Lobo (and Morgan, somewhat) scampers alongside like a dog chasing a car. This Is the Day is a bold subversion, the kind that demands further study.

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.