One of those recordings on Diorio Jazz was Stateside, from 2000, with Bob Magnusson on bass and Jim Plank on drums. Indeed, Magnusson and Plant have been working with Diorio for over 25 years now, and so the instantaneous nature of their responses to his musical ideas is finely tuned by now. That intuition is evident on Joe Diorio Trio: Live, whose tapes languished in Diorio’s home until his wife found them in a drawer. Sound engineer Jim Merod possessed the foresight and the appreciation for Diorio’s music to record the performance at the Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego in 1991. As far as Diorio’s trio was concerned, that night involved just another gig, as they entertained a crowd whose enjoyment is evident in the applause that Merod captured, not to mention the clinking of glasses and the clatter of plates.
Still, even as some of the sounds from the audience are present on the recording, the subtlety of the trio’s musicianship is evident throughout the album. At the beginning, Diorio cannily draws in the listeners’ attention with repeated eighth-note chords over Magnusson’s just-as-quiet basswork, until "Lover Man" becomes evident. The song proceeds in stages, first as a rubato interchange of melody between guitar and bass before the dramatically stated accents at the chorus when Diorio briefly quotes "’Round Midnight." Then, the trio, after Plank comes in, evolves into jaunty swing, enlivened in no small part by Magnusson’s walking bass lines and loping choices of notes, before the tripleted tension opposing the meter of four. Indeed, as the song proceeds, it becomes clear that the performance is truly spontaneous and that all three are reacting to one another’s thoughts of the moment. Diorio’s performances are almost always spur-of-the-moment events after he counts off a song and lets the notes fly.
Diorio has been an admirer of Brazilian music for a long time, and his acoustic style, resonant and plaintive, explains why. He includes "Corcovado" in the performance, one of the songs that he had included in his RAM release, To Jobim with Love. While Plank holds down the rhythm with quiet authority, Diorio builds the song from almost a whisper into a rousing version through multiple choruses, complemented as always by Magnusson’s solid support, not to mention his own melodic solo.
Except for "Corcovado," Diorio starts all of the other songs pensively, with rhythmless solo exploration of the harmonies before the tunes take traditional metrical shape, very slowly in fact on "A Child Is Born." Entrancing his listeners with charm and understatement, Diorio invites them into his musical realm, technically astute but never forgetting the imperative to entertain.
It appears to be Joe Diorio’s fate to have been under-recorded throughout his forty-plus years of professional guitar playing. Joe Diorio Trio: Live helps to correct some of this unfortunate neglect, thanks to the various acts of kindness that brought the album to commercial light of day. Though it wasn’t the trio’s intention to record its San Diego performance, the fact that it was documented calls to attention once again Joe Diorio’s spontaneous and natural mastery of the guitar.