The extraordinary CD from the Grammy-nominated guitarist, Jay Azzolina, Local Dialect. The result is the fullest self-portrait Azzolina has committed to disc to date. Accompanied by other jazz greats, such as bassist John Patitucci, organ wizard Larry Goldings, and drummer Greg Hutchinson, Local Dialect is a diverse collection of music with Azzolina's touch present on every track
Jay Azzolina delivers as impressive of a performance as one could possibly hope to achieve on his latest album Local Dialect. Very rarely does a recording contain such broad versatility of styles played to the highest level. Azzolina is a Grammy nominated artist who has worked and recorded with such artists such as Kenny Werner, Fred Hersch, Herbie Mann, and Carly Simon, along with many others. Local Dialect showcases an all-star cast of the world’s finest musicians on an album that can best be described as brilliant. Azzolina demonstrates that he is one of the finest and most talented guitar players on the planet. There is never a dull moment on the entire CD as each song provides contrast from its predecessor. The variety of styles, twist and turns, and highly creative compositions keep the listened on the edge of their seat throughout.
Brandon Bernstein, Jazz Improv
Along with John Patitucci (with whom Azzolina regularly tours), saxophonist Tim Ries, trumpeter Scott Wendholt, trombonist Mike Davis, organist Larry Goldings, and drummer Greg Hutchinson, Azzolina has produced a cubist-inflected computer assisted masterwork. Similar to earlier recordings by John Scofield (Still Warm) and Miles Davis (Decoy), but firmly assaulting the futuristic fronts currently being explored by saxophonist Steve Lehman (Demian As Posthuman), Azzolina’s Local Dialect maneuvers swerving arrangements that were born of a computer but realized with human hands.
Ken Micallef, Downbeat
Live at one station plaza
A swinging but funky disk of seven original Azzolina tunes performed at one of the top jazz haunts north of New York City featuring electic guitar, B-3 organ and drums.
A former member of the super-group Spyro Gyra, guitarist Jay Azzolina opts for a straightahead organ-trio format on his third solo effort. Though his rock-and funk-inspired roots are never far from the surface, the more traditional setting allows Azzolina to express more warmth and depth in his playing than he’s exhibited in the past.
The dual nature of Azzolina’s musical personality is best exemplified by “Piece of Jack,’ which features a rock-fueled refrain tempered by a more contemplative theme. Then there’s Azzolina’s style itself: Often when his long free-flowing lines settle into an easy-going groove, he adds a dose of tension by peppering his solos with bursts of staccato phrases.
Among the highlights is the disc’s opening track, “It’s All About You,” a bluesy number that glides smoothly atop Adam Nussbaum’s bossa nova-style rhythms. Another standout track is “So Steps The Giant,” a sly interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” that allows Azzolina and B-3 organist Gary Versace to plow their way through the piece’s original chord changes with their personal stamps.
Versace, in fact, serves triple duty as bass player, soloist, and the group’s harmonic foundation, all the while delivering excellent boppish counterpoint to Azzolina’s slick approach. That type of contrast makes this disc rewarding even after repeated listenings.
John Frederick Moore, Jazziz
This cooking live date, Jay Azzolina’s third recording as a leader, features Gary Versace and Adam Nussbaum on drums. The all-original set begins with a mellow bossa called “It’s All About You” and ends with a radical change of heart--- the tricky, up tempo “ It’s All About Me.” Other originals include the Latin-tinged 6/8 groove “Viracocha,” the lilting “ Her First Waltz,” and the vigorously swinging “So Steps The Giant,” based on “Giant Steps” but with an added section that provides built-in tension and release for the soloists. Azzolina’s tone has an appealing, rock-influenced edge that works well in this organ trio setting; it emerges with particular force on the highly unpredictable “ Piece Of Jack.” But mainly it’s a jazz outing all the way, with Azzolina’s solid, stinging, bob-savvy lines out in front.
David R. Adler, AMG