Italians are not known for their Art Tatums and Fats Wallers, but this jazz savant is amplifying his ivory skills throughout the Old Country in unheard forms that leak sounds of a New Orleans classic. An encyclopedia of early Ragtime and BeBop, stride piano native Raphael Gualazzi is a jazz artisan of full bodied sounds and simple lyrics, emphasizing the voice of the instrument. This year he took his music tools to win the prestigious San Remo Giovani. Weeks later, Gualazzi’s single “Reality and Fantasy” topped the charts for worldwide digital sales with Gilles Peterson’s all-star remix.
Listen to “Reality and Fantasy (Gilles Peterson Remix” here
Echoing a range of inspirations from Django Reinhard to Ben Harper, Gualazzi’s latest album is rooted in American jazz, flirting with sequencers. From Harlem whisky pub to sultry Euro lounge, the Gualazzi quintet resurrects the origins of the Afro-beat in contemporary poly-rythmic riffs with “Tizol’s Caravan” and their own “Love Goes Down Slow.”
Where b-sharps fly lies a reinstallation of epic melodies with Gualazzi (mic and keys), Gigi Faggi (trombone), Massimo Valentini (sax), Enrico Benvenuti (sax), Manuele Montanari (bass), Giuseppe Conte (guitar) and Christian Marini (drums). These bravos are proving to be vanguards of modern jazz reminiscent of the voices of yesterday.