Jerry Granelli Trio

Let Go
Plunge PRO0 638

By Ken Waxman

Now 72, and after almost 60 years as a professional, drummer, Jerry Granelli has conveyed a perfect gem of a trio to express his ideas. Filled out by two Haligonians: Danny Oore on soprano, tenor, baritone saxophones and bassist/cellist Simon Fisk, the group moves confidently through nine instant compositions, a couple of which also feature the ethereal Scots-Gaelic vocalizing of Mary Jane Lamond.

While pretty, Lamond’s lyric delicacy is secondary to the overall program. Most of Let Go demonstrates how many sonic colors can be produced by three musicians with judicious doubling or tripling. Granelli, whose experience goes back to Vince Guaraldi’s ‘60s piano trio, is a jazz man first and foremost, a truism easily proven by “Bones”, the funky, yet unhurried opener. It combines perfectly timed cymbal swishes, a walking bass line and Oore producing Gene Ammons-like blasts from his tenor.

From then on the group investigates many forms of improvisation, sticking pretty close to the tonal. Especially remarkable is Oore’s technical skill on his three horns, plus his ability, prominent on a tune like “A Woman Who Wants To Waltz”, to stretch out the emotional underpinning of a solo without ever breaking the line. He can snort and squeak with the best on baritone, while on soprano his muted tone complements Lamond’s low-key singing on “Solaria”, which is also notable for a scene-setting cello intro and drum patterning that seems half Carnatic- styled and half Krupa-swing. Fisk’s skills extend to melding folksy riffs with Granelli’s simple ruffs on “Letter To Bjork”, as well as providing a double-stopping continuum on tracks such as “Leaving” and “A Chinese Saloon”.

That last piece also highlights the drummer’s invention. Among unison double bass thumps and baritone sax snorts, he showcases clanging Oriental-styled gongs, plus mixing press rolls and a hefty but not lumbering swing beat.

Granelli’s adopted home town of Halifax has apparently helped him to extend his skills and given him two fine helpmates with which to create provocative sounds.

Tracks: Bones; Django; Solaria*; Letter To Bjork; Leaving 1313 Under A Chinese Saloon; A Chinese Saloon; A Woman Who Wants To Waltz; Vulnerable*

Personnel: Danny Oore: soprano, tenor, baritone saxophones; Simon Fisk: bass, cello; Jerry Granelli: drums; Mary Jane Lamond: voice

—For The New York City Jazz Record March 2013