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Jerry Granelli Trio: Let Go

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It is a tenet of good writing that you don’t use a five-dollar word where a 50-cent word will do. Drummer Jerry Granelli’s trio subscribes to a similar philosophy on Let Go. The album is nothing if not economical. (The five-letter title alone conveys that.) There are nine songs here, four of which run less than four minutes apiece.

Simon Fisk switches between bass and cello, and Danny Oore plays tenor, soprano and baritone saxophones. Granelli, who’ll always be known as the rhythm-keeper on the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, drums sublimely, rarely playing the same pattern for two consecutive measures. Fisk, the most understated of the bunch, plucks a funky, slithering vamp that gets “Bones” going. Oore’s sax sneaks in, serpent-like, and Granelli hits the ride-dryly, coolly-with fresh fills every two bars. On “Dango,” he enters like a ticking clock with a military drum corps bringing up the rear; Oore’s soprano, pretty at first, grows ever more daring and aggressive. Fisk, on cello, underpins the aptly titled “Letter to Björk” with an unchanging 10/8 line so Granelli can play freely; the last 46 seconds of this 2:46 song (interlude, really) is a fade-out.

Mary Jane Lamond, singing in Gaelic, provides vocals on two tunes: the closing dirge, “Vulnerable”; and “Solaria,” by far the longest piece on the album. Running more than nine minutes, it begins as a sweet duet of soprano sax and cello before Lamond’s wispy vocals flutter in. Granelli makes intermittent pronouncements with a malleted tom, and abruptly there is rhythm and groove. Still, even when there’s a long tune to make hay with, the guiding principle remains intact: Keep it concise and unencumbered.

Originally Published