Giovanni Guidi Trio ‘City of Broken Dreams’ (ECM) 4/5

Young Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi makes his major label debut here and it is an accomplished recording that neatly balances shorter and longer pieces, melodic and occasional freer form numbers, and underpining it all a simplicty of execution that is a precursor of a very promising future career ahead of him. He is surrounded in the classic piano trio format by another young musician, bassist Thomas Morgan, who is currently part of the Thomas Stanko quartet while the delicate percussion is expertly taken care of by Portugese drummer João Lobo. There are hints of the young Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett in the leader’s playing with a strong classical presence in evidence. The understated title track is heard in no less than two versions that open and close the album and both possess a floating-like quality that reveals a deep passion for both impressionistic music as well as that of Erik Satie. One of the most memorable numbers, and haunting at that, is ‘The Forbidden Zone’ and what really strikes the listener first time round is how long on the ear pieces from this all original set linger. Quiet reflection imbues ‘Leonice’ whereas more intricate keyboard work is an integral feature of the bustling, energetic ‘Just one more time’. Not only is the playing mature, but so is the choice of titles with the intimate and warm sounding ‘The Impossible Divorce’ typifying the trio’s approach that belies their years. Satie is once more evoked on the gentle interplay between bass and piano on ‘The way some people live’. That Guidi can perform in other styles than lyrical and melodic is illustrated by at least two pieces which are more improvisational and looser in structure and on both ‘No other possibility’ and ‘Late Blue’ there is a gentle nod to more avant-garde hues without departing radically from the overall album sound. Monk is even recalled on ‘Ocean View’. Manfred Eicher has a proven track record for spotting new pianistic talent and in Giovanni Guidi it looks as though he has unveiled another prodigious musician and one who follows in the line of Tord Gustavsen for the label and more generally bears comparison with the likes of Vijay Iyer and Gwilym Simcock.

Tim Stenhouse