Reviewed by Jim Yadlon, host "Just Jazz" WWFM.... HD radio.... 89.1.... jazzon2.comWednesdays, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
"Firstlight" is the title track on a CD of mostly original tunes by the awesome swing-to-bop pianist, composer and arranger Frank Giasullo. Along with the seven original tunes there are two great covers, "Yesterdays" and "Autumn Leaves." The quartet is made up of Frank Giasullo on piano, Pat Wristen on trumpet, Ken Filiano on bass, Ron Glick on drums and Michelle Glick on the one vocal, "Nightwalk."
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. Throughout the CD all of the members of the quartet know exactly where the others are going musically. That is no accident. That skill is the result of many evenings of working together and total trust in the talents of each member of the foursome. They truly listen to each other instead of worrying about an ego-fueled solo that may not fit into the composition. This is rare in the music world.
On "Yesterdays" and "Autumn Leaves," two jazz classics, they added their own special style. "Yesterdays" is given an up-tempo interpretation and "Autumn Leaves" is a very cool fall sound.
The signature tune on the CD is "Dr. Nick," named after a close friend. 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 the great piano work by Frank 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 death, is equally as melancholy and wistful.
But Giasullo does not leave you for long in a sad place. If the first lyrics of "Nightwalk" and the muted trumpet solo are filled with longing, loneliness and ".... dreams gone by," it is the final image that Giasullo describes of near dawn and "waiting to begin again" that sums up what this jazzman is all about - after the dark, there is light.
All in all, I highly recommend the work of the Frank Giasullo Quartet. In today's Jazz scene, the mixture of great writing, solid interpretation, and live performance, only the best shine and give Jazz lovers what they really seek...Good Music.