Following the extraordinary success of guitar virtuoso Pasquale Grasso’s digital showcase series, which launched in 2019 and includes Solo Standards, Solo Ballads, Solo Holiday, and tributes to jazz royalty Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Duke Ellington. Sony Music Masterworks is set to release Be-Bop!, a brilliant new tribute to be-bop pioneers Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. This will be the Italian-born Grasso’s sixth album for Masterworks, and was released last week on June 17
Backed by his working trio of bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla, the trio is in sync through super-up-tempo, challenging fare like “Shaw ‘Nuff,” “Groovin’ High,” “Cheryl,” “Ornithology” and “Be-bop,” whereas they settle into a more relaxed vibe on Thelonious Monk’s gorgeous ballad “Ruby, My Dear.” Parker’s “Quasimodo” is another relaxed mid-tempo number, featuring superb octave playing by Grasso and a brilliant bowed solo by Roland, and the trio takes its time on the lush “Lamento Della Campagnia,” based on the Billie Holiday torch song “Some Other Spring.” As the 33-year-old Grasso explained, “I had a tough time last year and Billie’s version of ‘Some Other Spring’ got me through some hard times, so I decided to record it.”
Special guest vocalist Samara Joy, who has been collaborating with Pasquale since 2020, appears on one track, the jivey mid-tempo swinger “I’m in a Mess” (originally sung by Joe Carroll on Gillespie’s 1951 album, School Days). “She’s incredibly talented and I’m happy to perform with her night after night,” Grasso said. “We’re having a lot of fun together.”
Grasso continues to find his own niche while playing the great standards.
“Obviously, I think the older you get the more you understand,” Grasso said. ‘When you’re in your twenties, you just want to play everything you know. But over time, you realize that music is not about that — it’s about telling a story and making somebody feel certain emotions. I love Lester Young for that. That’s the beauty of music.”