J.A. Granelli & Mr. Lucky's latest CD Gigantic
is an entertaining ride that is somewhat hard to categorize. The quartet seems to have something to do with rock and roll as well as jazz, but they are neither a noodling jam band nor a hypomanic group of virtuoso fusionaires. Mr. Lucky plays a unique hybrid of jazz that includes elements borrowed from delta blues, surf music, disco and dub reggae.
Bassist Granelli & drummer Diego Voglino lay down a steady supply of appealing grooves on the albums ten tracks (really eleven, if you count the hidden take of the Chantays' classic "Pipeline"). The duo never sounds heavy handed, even on the thundering dub version of "3.15." David Tronzo's slide guitar and Jamie Saft's B3 organ complete the sonic picture, adding a nice wash of tone color to the proceedings. The songs are mostly original compositions, one interesting and dryly amusing exception being the group's plaintive, slow version of the Bee Gees' "If I Can't Have You."
A modern sounding record, Gigantic
is a somewhat unique musical experience. There are elements of jazz here, particularly in some of Trono's phrasings, but nothing too boppish. At the same, there are few if any of the usual rock stereotypes one associates with fusion. If I had to pick from contemporary artist to compare them to, J.A. Granelli & Mr. Lucky are a bit like Medeski, Martin & Wood & Marc Ribot but not as abstruse. The record hearkens back a bit to the type of thing guys like Harvey Mandell and Jerry Garcia & Merle Saunders were doing thirty years ago, enjoying making music without worrying too much about demographics. More bands should do that.