Sony Music Entertainment
Pasquale Grasso has freakish talent – here on a set of solo guitar pieces he plays his sincere, respectful renditions of established classics. No funny business, this is not some Marc Ribot deconstruction, instead think of the tone and taste of Jim Hall, the technique of Pat Metheny, the scope and treatments of Joe Pass and the devotion and adherence to tradition of Martin Taylor. Now wrap them all up in one single package.
And speaking of wrap-ups and packages, the songs you’ll hear on this digital-only compilation are not only tunes you know and love already (Someone To Watch Over Me, Somewhere Over The Rainbow et al) they’re also tunes that Grasso has recorded for EPs across the last two years. It’s like the label knows what a talent they have and are working hard to protect him – to keep drip-feeding music in easily digestible bite-sized meals and to never overcook.
So, this is timeless music meticulously served by a 31-year-old wunderkind.
It sounds like many guitars (and maybe even many guitarists) are contributing to the beautiful version of These Foolish Things. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is languid and lovely with some speedy runs in the intro making way for the lyricism of the melody. That’s Grasso’s great skill, never showing off the bag of licks and tricks just for the sake of it; forever in service to the tune. That’s the Jim Hall of it for me. The tone and taste and talent to know just what to play and when to play it.
Some of these songs (all of them standards) have turned up so damned often and yet its like hearing them anew when you follow Pasquale’s fingers – all that beautiful playing and yet he’s careful to never leave his prints to smudge the memory of the melody. I must have heard 200 versions of Body and Soul and yet I listen to Grasso and I feel the memories Billie Holiday evoked even without a trace of her voice. Just beautiful. Stunning work. This guy is almost super-human.