…a set that repays repeated listening, and reveals a new chapter in Guidi’s ever evolving music.

ECM 2808 / 589 1503

Giovanni Guidi (piano); James Brandon Lewis (tenor saxophone); Thomas Morgan (double bass); João Lobo (drums)
Recorded August 2023

Pianist Guidi has made some beautifully lyrical albums for ECM in recent years, and more often than not with Thomas Morgan and João Lobo present. The trio’s association stretches back a decade and this understanding and interaction is instantly discernible in their collective playing.

However, the trio has not remained a tight knit unit that refuses to permit other voices to enter their sound world as the excellent  Avecs le Temps released in 2019 attests, and for this latest album the US tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis has been invited to contribute his own unique sound with that of the trio.

Not an altogether unexpected move as the pianist has been wanting to work with Lewis for some time, and after all one of the major attributes of Guidi’s trio is their ability to play lyrically and leave plenty of space. What is interesting is how Guidi has accommodated the saxophonist by retaining the familiar characteristics of the trio but allowing the music to flow more freely.

This loosening of the music has brought forth a set that allows all four musicians to communicate intuitively yet with a sense of structure that provides a guiding hand that can be held or released in the moment.

A New Day has a varied programme that the quartet are able to into new forms from the traditional Catalan song ‘Cantos del Ocells’ in which Lewis takes his first tentative steps bringing his tenor sound carefully and thoughtfully into the ensemble to the freely improvised ‘Only Sometimes’ that appears to be as carefully sculpted as the written compositions. Guidi’s sensitive yet decisive piano opens proceedings with Lobo’s brushes providing a dialogue until joined by Morgan who then takes things forward alone in a lovely solo statement. When joined by Lewis’s saxophone the music gently moves up a notch becoming more urgent.

The pianist takes charge of the writing contributing four pieces including the incredibly beautiful ‘Luigi (The Boy Who Lost His Name)’ in which Guidi guides his colleagues from the keyboard in a composition that is sheer poetry, and the melodic and poignant ‘Wonderland’ is a stunningly passionate group performance.

If ‘My Funny Valentine’, the only standard on the album, is a little too impressionistic at times, then the quartet find the balance between impressionism, spontaneity and form perfectly in ‘To A Young Student’ and ‘Means For A Rescue’ with the former bringing out some marvellous arco playing from Morgan and Lobo on the latter bringing some lucid and inventive percussion to bear on proceedings.

The drummer’s subtle gestures and shading of the music throughout has created a pulse that that the music is guided by without harnessing it to a regular beat and as such rubato passages are a constant within each of the compositions.

As with much of ECM’s recent output, this is not music to shake up the listener but a set that repays repeated listening, and reveals a new chapter in Guidi’s ever evolving music.