Joe Diorio “Solo Guitar” Art of Life Records AL1020-2
Vintage Joe Diorio recording that was originally released in 1975 on the “Spitball” label. (SB-2). Some of the other records by Joe on that label were, “Straight Ahead to the Light” with Steve Bagby, “SoloDuo” with Wally Cirillo, “Rapport” with Cirillo and “Peaceful Journey” (solo). “Peaceful Journey” and “Solo Guitar” are my favorites of that series. “Solo Guitar” is a huge departure from what was generally being played in 1975. The innovations Joe was doing were hardly noticed as it sounded so easy and right. I think Joe is using the middle pick-up as the sound is so sharp and biting. Joe layers a few of the tunes, “Windows”, “Invitation”, and “Without You”. The rest are solo. It’s hard to believe this recording is over 30 years old. Joe’s interpretations are extraordinary not to mention a display of technique that’s mind boggling. The layered “Windows” is a perfect display of what great jazz guitar can aspire to. The recording sound on the CD has much better fidelity that the original record. Joe throws off his runs and 4th excursions with such ease that I shake my head and think,”How did he do that”? Nuage is a touch distorted but it doesn’t distract from this monumental performance. The unusual harmonies, moving lines, and single note passages are truly amazing. Joe’s composition “Poem” has a real 20th century feel to it. 20th century then meant something else than now. You can hear Julian Bream play this and love it. Very compositional.
“Invitation” starts very quietly and introspectively. Joe then goes crazy playing totally mad. (In a good way). I feel this track shows Joe’s complete dedication to his craft and artistry.
“India” is another Diorio tune with lots of open strings and a gentle, almost lullaby feel to it, some engaging rhythm and beautiful expression.
The standard, “A Time for Love” is on its own a great tune and here’s Joe doing a remarkable version. Still using open strings but somehow it doesn’t sound arranged. It feels like Joe is playing everything improvised with a few guide lines. I’m sure Joe played this tune a million times and felt relaxed to try anything he heard.
Joe’s own “Call to the Center” is a real gem! What in the world is this man hearing? No restrictions at all. I always thought that certain guitarists like Barney, Tal, Johnny, and some others were not trapped by the conventions of the guitar. They played music on the guitar and not just the guitar. Joe is another one who always did that.
“Without You” is the last track with a layered 2nd guitar. It’s a lovely ending to a remarkable set of music.
Throughout this CD you can hear the tradition of jazz guitar plus some very unique variations. What is most amazing to me is the feeling Joe gets to on this and many other records. It’s a joyous look into the mind of a great artist who probably doesn’t even think about that as he just wants to make music. Succeed he does!
Joe has been a friend of mine for a long time. I was somewhat worried that my feeling for Joe would make me ineligible to do a review. I don’t think that’s true because I loved this record long before I met Joe Diorio. I always felt that this is a very important record.
This is a must for all who love jazz and guitar. I think Art of Life Records is doing a wonderful service by releasing these incredible records on CD’s. I wonder how many people would try to find these classic records on Spitball as I did.
Jack Wilkins 2006
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