Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk are three of the most well-known and respected figures in the history of jazz. That goes without saying. Their music has been covered countless times by just as many acts throughout the decades, and now jazz guitarist Pasquale Grasso has added his name to that list with his new compilation record, Be-Bop! Released Friday through Sony Music Entertainment, the 10-song set is an interesting new take on the trio’s works what with the re-imagined, guitar-based takes on the songs. One of the most notable of the covers is that of Charlie Parker’s timeless classic ‘Ornithology.’ Coming late in the album’s 43-minute run time, the song will be examined shortly. Thelonious Monk’s ‘Ruby, My Dear,’ which comes early in the collection, is another of the notable additions to the record. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Groovin’ High,’ which closes the compilation, is one more notable addition to the set. It was originally recorded by Parker and Gillespie together. It will also be examined later. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the set’s featured works, the whole makes the compilation a presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.
Be-Bop!, the new covers compilation from jazz guitarist Pasquale Grasso, is a presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once. Each of the covers featured throughout the record does its own share to support the noted statement. Among the most notable of the covers is that of Parker’s ‘Ornithology.’ Grasso takes on Parker’s lead through his performance on the guitar. The piano line that compliments the saxophone and horns in the original is absent here, but the arrangement still works relatively well as Grasso works his way through the song. Drummer Keith Balla’s steady time keeping on the hi-hat and snare is a welcome less-is-more approach here. Meanwhile bassist Ari Roland’s low-end does well to take the place of the piano line and compliment Grasso’s performance at the same time. The whole is a unique update on a song that originally is quite lively. Grasso and company’s rendition is lively in its own right, but yet so much more relaxed at the same time. It is well worth hearing and just one of the songs that makes this compilation overall worth hearing. The trio’s take of Monk’s ‘Ruby, My Dear’ is another notable cover.
Just as Grasso and company really pull things back in their take of ‘Ruby, My Dear.’ The original song, both as performed solo by Monk and with the Thelonious Monk Quartet – which featured John Coltrane on saxophone, Wilbur Ware on bass, and Shadow Wilson on drums – was reserved in its own right. Monk’s solo performance features just him on the piano gliding along in an almost bluesy approach and sound. The quartet’s rendition of the song is more romantic in its sound and approach but still reserved in its own right. Grasso and company lean their rendition more in the vein of Monk’s solo performance with Grasso leading the way gently through his guitar performance. Balla’s subtle, gentle performance on the snare and hi-hat pairs with Grasso’s performance to enrich the performance even more. The subtlety of Roland’s performance on the bass, both as he provides the backing and as he starts to shine late in the song in his semi-solo, adds its own nice touch to the arrangement. The overall approach taken here by the trio gives the song so much depth and warmth even in its simplicity and shows even more why this compilation is worth hearing. It is not the last of the songs that serve that purpose either.
‘Groovin’ High,’ which closes the record, is one more example of what makes the set worth hearing. The original composition was performed by Gillespie and Parker and is quite energetic. Grasso, Balla and Roland bring the song their own energy to the song while still staying true to the source material. There is no denying that at times, Grasso’s performance gives the song something of an easy listening bend at times, but he manages thankfully to keep that to a minimum, instead managing to bring out more of the swing approach of the original in the long run. The result here is a song that despite being led by a guitar line, is still an engaging and entertaining presentation in its own right. When it is considered alongside the other covers examined here and with the rest of the record’s covers, the whole makes this set a presentation that most jazz fans will find successful.
Be-Bop!, the new covers set from jazz guitarist Pasquale Grasso, is an interesting collection of covers of songs from Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk. The songs each take a unique jazz guitar-led approach to the famed musicians’ works. Each stays as true as possible to the source material while also giving the works slightly new identities. The songs examined here do well to support that statement. When they are considered alongside the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes Be-Bop! A presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.
Be-Bop! is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Pasquale Grasso’s latest news at:
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