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Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
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Spotlights [Issue # 7 ]
Gerald Gradwohl:

By Dean Truitt


Austrian guitar virtuoso Gerald Gradwohl continues his astonishingly prolific career by unleashing ABQ, a fusion masterpiece supported by a legendary ensemble. The 36-year-old journeyman, who has already released ten albums of his own and with an array of groups, called upon the respective talents of Bob Berg, Gary Willis, and Kirk Covington to realize this monumental feat. Sadly, saxophonist Bob Berg died in a car accident shortly after the completion of the recording sessions. One can hope that Gradwohl feels consolation in realizing that he provided a brilliant outlet for Berg, his friend and inspiration, to bid farewell. 

Austrian guitar virtuoso Gerald Gradwohl continues his astonishingly prolific career by unleashing ABQ, a fusion masterpiece supported by a legendary ensemble. The 36-year-old journeyman, who has already released ten albums of his own and with an array of groups, called upon the respective talents of Bob Berg, Gary Willis, and Kirk Covington to realize this monumental feat. Sadly, saxophonist Bob Berg died in a car accident shortly after the completion of the recording sessions. One can hope that Gradwohl feels consolation in realizing that he provided a brilliant outlet for Berg, his friend and inspiration, to bid farewell. 

From the opening passages of “Pau Wau,” ABQ percolates with unbridled enthusiasm and carefree abandon. The musicians’ interwoven connection is so seamlessly locked that it sounds as though one person plays all the parts simultaneously. While Covington swats at the drums with power and finesse, Willis lays down his trademark groundwork of fluid precision. Above the pulsing foundation, Gradwohl and Berg trade lines with otherworldly communication.      

One fascinating aspect of ABQ is that Gradwohl incorporates modern devices such as drum loops within the songs. While some rigid jazz purists would argue that using these techniques dilutes the purity of the recording, nothing could be further from the truth. In explaining his decision to utilize cutting edge creativity, the artist explains, “The continuous loops we used . . . come from my study of contemporary sounds. I think such ingredients go absolutely well with Fusion and groove-oriented music.”

While the album’s eclecticism offers fresh perspective, Gradwohl never lets the listener forget that he is an ardent admirer of Jazz tradition. The quartet’s ornately detailed interpretation of Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” shows a veteran sophistication and selflessness to support the song, rather than overplay. In discussing the pursuit of his passions, the modest prodigy observes, “In the end, the audience decides whether it likes my music or not.” If he continues to produce material of this excellent standard, Gerald Gradwohl will consistently amass fans across the globe.


ABQ


Gerald Gradwohl ABQ


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