I once had the privilege of sitting in on an Esbjörn Svensson Trio concert sound-check. It’s a long story, but I was the only person in the concert hall other than Svensson himself. The sound-check came to a close, the sound engineers left, Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström left, leaving just the pianist at his piano. For the next half hour or so Svensson played a beautiful array of music, lyrical melodies with a soft, yearning romanticism flowing freely and openly as I sat, eyes closed, just listening, completely lost in the moment. That particular moment in time was a very special one for me, and as I started listening to Giovanni Guidi performing the title track to his new album “Avec le temps”, that memory was ignited within me with Guidi’s heartfelt playing reminiscent of that wonderful moment in time.
Born in Foligno, near Perugia in 1985, pianist Guidi was launched onto the international stage in the groups of Enrico Rava. After being struck by the focussed intensity of the young pianist’s playing, Rava invited him into his band. And it is that focussed intensity that flows through Guidi’s own compositions on this recording, leading to a thought that sparks within me; Guidi seems to share many similar attributes to the legendary pianist Keith Jarrett. Guidi shares the touch, sensitivity and freedom of expression with that of the master.
“Avec le temps” as an album is very worthy of praise. Essentially, Guidi has expanded on his trio, Thomas Morgan on double bass and João Lobo on drums, with the addition of Francesco Bearzatti on tenor saxophone and Roberto Cecchetto on guitar. Some of the eight compositions, like the title track itself, are trio based, whilst other tunes allow for the full quintet of musicians to contribute. The title track is a beautiful interpretation of a yearning song of love and loss by the Monaco born poet-composer-chansonnier Léo Ferré. The melody and atmosphere of Ferré’s “Avec le temps”, one of the classics of the French chanson repertoire, are explored in new detail by Guidi and bassist Morgan.
The way Guidi incorporates other instruments into his music is masterful. On “15th of August” and “No Taxi” I am reminded of how skilfully drummer Paul Motian used to do this when leading his bands featuring Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano. And these two tracks share that kind of post-bop vibe that journeys from intricate passages of interplay through to colourful and engaging improvisation. Much of Guidi’s playing and composing is melodic, but he’s obviously not averse to delving into the more avant-garde nature of things, as can be heard on “Postlidium and a kiss”. A difficult listen this tune, but very rewarding given the chance. Yet it’s the delicate nature of the pianist’s music that provides most of the high points, none more so than on “Tomasz”, the touching tribute to the late Tomasz Stanko.