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Album review: "1954"


Ricardo Grilli

Tone Rogue Records

The title of guitarist Ricardo Grilli's new album, "1954," may cause you to anticipate a tribute to the greatest generation of jazz players. While some measure of that is inevitable on a CD by an excellent musician and his supporting players — Aaron Parks on piano; Joe Martin, bass; and Eric Harland, drums — most of the tracks are musical explorations of the cosmos. 1954 was around the dawn of the space age, although it took another three years before Sputnik was launched. While the opening track, "Arcturus," (the brightest star in the east) seems to move with the speed of light, "Rings" is a gentle evocation of the rings that envelope planets like Saturn.

Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, Grilli has earned a reputation on the New York scene playing with Chris Potter, John Escreet, E.J. Strickland, and others. All three of the musicians rounding out his current quartet are perfectly suited to Grilli's nuanced compositional style. While gorgeously fluid guitar solos dominate, Parks occasionally takes off on a solo or trades lines with Grilli while Martin and Harland's bass and drums propel the album from start to finish.