Giuseppe Paradiso, Meridian 71-Parallel Dimensions | In the midst of a portal
If jazz fusion is one of those secret drive thru theaters you get on an invite basis, this is the hidden gem playing there. Giuseppe Paradiso teams up with Meridian 71 again and many other talented artists to create Parallel Dimensions, his new album. Topped to the horizon with constellations and dreams for no ordinary mortal, this is a cocktail that goes down smooth. And then you feel the kick, while reality starts to fold into a plane. Follow the interesting interview I had with them as well.
Kaizen is the rebel opener. It can’t be world music, though it skims across it. Not jazz, because it isn’t pure. A fusion jazz marriage with prog-rock at moments, this is what gives Giuseppe the edge. The 5 minute track has solos from almost each instrument featured. This shows the range and skill of those gracing this phenomenal album.
A long journey to somewhere
Your group had a long break from releasing music, 2012 to 2020. What was the journey of the group like during this time?
Between 2012 and 2020, Meridian 71 has performed on a regular basis in New England, especially in the Boston metro, at venues like The Regattabar, Lizard Lounge (where the ensemble performed on a regular basis between 2017 and 2019). Ryles Jazz Club, the Lily Pad and several house concerts. Between our first album in 2012, and our second in 2020, with the Meridian 71 ensemble we worked on a new material I wrote in that time frame. I researched and developed a specific sound, a unique voice that would bridge cultures and create links within different traditions that have influenced both my personal and artistic life.
During this time, Finnish guitarist-composer Jussi Reijonen, Senegalese griot Malick Ngom and American bassist Galen Willett joined the Meridian 71 ensemble. They were performing as a sextet with Mark Zaleski on sax, clarinet and flute, Utar Artun on keys and myself on drums and percussion. A group that features some of the finest and most eclectic musicians in the Boston metro, this project became a creative laboratory and space to develop this music.
The creative contribution to the project by the talent of each band member became essential and magical. I feel playing together a lot of music during this past decade we undoubtedly developed a deeper musical connection within the ensemble, as well as a very distinct sound as a whole.
Memories of the Future is the next track, doing the very thing Giuseppe Paradiso invested hours of his time on. With a soft, beguiled piano opening that builds a charismatic entrance, the cello enters as a mate. Orchestral in this breath, something extraordinary in the next. The electric guitar peeks through, but not for attention, to accent. The Tolkien-ish tune builds to a complex arrhythmia of layered melodies. Exciting and gripping track.
Composing with a musical legend
How was it collaborating with Phil Grenadier for your previous album, Metropolitan Sketches?
Playing and working with Phil Grenadier is always an inspiring and wonderful experience for me. I love Phil’s sound and playing. I knew Phil’s sound would be perfectly what I had in mind in terms of tone and colour for a Flugelhorn/Trumpet solo over my composition Spring, on the Metropolitan Sketches album, as well as for ‘Tuntkah’ and the improvisation over ‘Lucevan le Stelle’.
Phil and I met in 2015 in another musical project led by Robert Davoli, with whom we played almost on a weekly basis for a couple of years. I have always enjoyed and learned so much from playing with or listening to Phil Grenadier. I was overjoyed and so excited when Phil accepted my invitation to play on some of my original compositions with the Meridian 71 project.
Releasing this album on February 13, 2020 with a sold out concert at The Regattabar, right before the pandemic’s lockdowns, unfortunately we couldn’t perform much live during 2020 and 2021. Now, I can’t wait for the next chance to play again with Phil Grenadier!
Constantly collaborating and inventing, Giuseppe Paradiso is himself no stranger to compositional experimentation. Joriki, the next track, is a gentle reminder of the same. With Caribbean influences in the beat, this song builds on the foundation of the chugging alone in many ways. The bass aids the melodic aspect. What can be defined as a trailer of jazz’s fore into international waters, to a drum solo essentially that breathes the warm winds in.
An unlikely pairing forever
What is the strongest foot forward in this album Parallel Dimensions?
The Parallel Dimensions album undoubtedly is pushing the project forward. A production supported by a Live Arts Boston grant by The Boston Foundation, a grant by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.TheCity of Boston, as well as support by Robert Davoli & Eileen McDonagh. I began composing this music during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020.
I wanted to introduce and combine in our acoustic band additional sounds, voices and electronics, in addition to my extensive and ongoing research into multiculturalism .The different traditions and cultures to which I have been exposed musically and personally.
This new album aims also to generate an in-depth research into the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity in our society and daily life. As a first record published with the London-based record label Ubuntu Music, I believe that the Meridian 71 project is at the moment at a turning point.
In It’s Only The Beginning, the jazz soul returns, for a while. With a steady beat and flute leading the arrangement, each instrument trains in its own tempo to create something melodically hypnosis inducing. The solos are aided by at least one other instrument, making it a unique set of choices to create a musical piece.
Thoughts might have just notes
Playing instrumentals primarily, is there complexity in relaying information like the isolation during the pandemic?
I’ve always found it easier to express myself through sounds other than words; I believe that music has a communicative power that goes beyond words and reaches deeper levels. Like any language, you become more fluent by studying and practicing it. In my personal case, as a composer and musician, it is a constant learning process to be able to freely express myself. Through instrumental music; I think the complexity in relaying information through instrumental music becomes magic when the artist makes it accessible to everyone who listens to it.
The masterpiece title track makes its appearance. The epic is close to 9 minutes long, and is a conversational exchange between instruments that begets you to be a fly on the wall. This is a room where magic and history is being produced. Changing time and style, this is a condensation of sounds and experiments that these artists have gone through. Jam sections to solos, this essay for the love of jazz bares it all.
A man that never rests
What’s next for Giuseppe Paradiso?
First of all, I look forward to returning performing live concerts again both with Meridian 71 as well as with other musicians/artists I play with as a sideman drummer. The gradual coming back to live concerts gives me hope, and at the moment I look forward to performing this new album live.
I am very excited about our new relationship and being working with the Ubuntu Music record label, based in the UK, with whom we have another record in the plans. I plan to start working on a new and fourth album as a leader in 2022.I also look forward to releasing this year other albums I recorded drums on with the world music project Neotolia, Italian artist Stefano Marchese & Scanzonati, Josh Rosen’s The Melting Pot, and songwriter Slava Tolstoy.
Tony was released as a single last year. This track sees Giuseppe Paradiso adding the tang of salsa and ingredients that would upset a purist. However, this is a master chef at work, integrating only what complements each other. From the drum beat to the melody. The dances in a spry, jolly upbeat group of moments, this song is a catchy, enjoyable one. The guitar work is extraordinary, leading into other instrument solos, each making their worth and thumbprint known in the album.
Listen to Giuseppe’s fantastic otherworldly vision here with his new album: