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The Pucciarelli Group: Uplift (Ubuntu)

A review of the guitarist's fourth album

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The Pucciarelli Group: Uplift
The cover of Uplift by The Pucciarelli Group

Giuseppe Pucciarelli is an Italian guitarist who got started playing his native folk music; his father bought him a classical guitar for his fifth birthday. He managed by himself until age 10, when the family got him classical guitar lessons. He added jazz to the mix a few years later, and then, still quite young, moved to London for study at the Guildhall School of Music.

Gigs at prominent London clubs followed. Pucciarelli also began to teach what he’d learned, including music theory, jazz harmony, composition, and improvisation. He was still only 23 when he cut his first album; this one is his fourth, and he allows that it’s credited to “The Pucciarelli Group” because he feels this quartet so strongly.

As a composer and a player, he’s just kept growing. The foursome starts the set off slow and easy with “Uplift,” chords calmly considering options behind the leader’s gently growing lines. (He wrote with pianist Ergio Valente and drummer Marco Gagliano in mind, and bassist Aldo Capasso’s an old friend anyway.) The music eventually shifts brisker, then downshifts again for three out of four—Gagliano capers over the top, a lot of gas still in his tank.

“Kenny’s Time” rides Valente’s piano figure into double time, Pucciarelli overshadowing Capasso to sound like a bass himself playing the funky break. Piano and guitar rush alongside each other, a mutual admiration society sealed in smoothness, although thrumming bass and drums like quietly breaking sticks furnish roughage.

Capasso gets a short bass solo on “Bolo,” sounding determined to wryly milk every second. The interplay throughout deserves high marks. I’m curious to see if they stay together, and where they go from here.

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