The tone of Firstlight is rather low key and very personal, yet many of the solos throughout the CD allow the musicians to stretch out and show their talent in both group work and in individual expression within the composition. You get the feeling that each musician knows where the others are going musically. No accident! That skill is the result of many sessions of playing together with total trust in the talents of every member of the group. They truly listen to one another instead of worrying about an ego-fueled solo that may not fit into the composition.
On "Yesterdays" and "Autumn Leaves," two jazz classics, they added their own special style. "Yesterdays" is given in up-tempo interpretation and "Autumn Leaves" has a very cool fall sound.
The signature tune of the CD is "Dr. Nick," named after Giasullo's close friend, a chiropractor. When the FGQ plays this tune in a live setting, such as the intimate Riegelsville Inn in Riegelsville, PA, the crowd reacts appropriately -- everyone gets a little wild. It is hard to stay in your seat, as the tempo and Giasullo's great piano work just get you moving. Judging by the feel of this tune, Giasullo and the good doctor Nick must have had some great times together. On the other hand, "Until the Next Time," written in memory of this friend after his untimely death, is equally as melancholy and wistful.
But Giasullo does not leave you for long in a sad place. If the lyrics of "Nightwalk" and the muted trumpet solo by Wristen are filled with longing, loneliness and "dreams gone by," it is the final image that Giasullo describes of dawn "waiting to begin again" that sums up what this jazzman is all about -- after the dark there is light and hope.
I highly recommend the work of the Frank Giasullo Quartet. The mixture of great writing, inspired by Giasullo's classical training, solid interpretation and arranging, and dynamic live performances, combine to give jazz lovers what they really want.
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