Paul Giallorenzo

Piano   Electronics   Improvisation    Composition   Multimedia   


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“The End and the Beginning”
Astral Spirits, 2022

The debut LP from RedGreenBlue posits a mesmeric, minimalist extension of Chicago's groove-based improvised music tradition. Over the course of two introverted, side-long pieces, the band patiently crafts hypnotic—yet still dynamic—sonic spaces using languid pulsations, careful shifts in colour, and occasional bursts of virtuosic urgency. It's music that hovers between worlds, unfurling a foundation of almost-ambient weightlessness that's inflected with audible spontaneity and given breadth through rhythm. The expansive result intimates connections to the most atmospheric corners of Miles Davis' electric catalogue, hints at Terry Riley's trance-inducing drones, makes oblique references to dub, and even nods in the direction of Town and Country's DIY chamber music. Yet, all the while it inhabits its very own aesthetic space—a gravity-defying blend of the ethereal and the earthbound that draws the ear in slowly and subliminally.

The quartet of Paul Giallorenzo (synthesizer, pump organ, electronics), Charlie Kirchen (bass), Ryan Packard (drums, electronics) and Ben LaMar Gay (cornet and electronics) first assembled in spring 2017 for a four-week residency at the Burlington, a beloved a hub for exploratory music in Chicago's Logan Square. The End and the Beginning was conceived and workshopped in the first half of the following year and was later recorded live at the Hungry Brain, another notable Chicago venue in July 2018. With half of its membership leaving Chicago—not to mention the active performance schedule that each member keeps—the group has since started operating more as a rotating collective than a fixed ensemble.

Paul Giallorenzo, synthesizer, pump organ, electronics
Charlie Kirchen, bass
Ryan Packard, drums, electronics
Ben LaMar Gay, cornet, electronics (on Side B only)

Recorded at the Hungry Brain, Chicago, July 1st, 2018
Recorded by: David Zuchowski
Mixed and Mastered by Dan Pierson

Artwork & Layout by Dylan Marcus McConnell / Tiny Little Hammers

Group Info and Reviews

Selected Reviews:

Red Sotol, 2020

Paul Giallorenzo - synthesizers, electronics, drum machines
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten - electric bass, electronics

Released October 2, 2020

Recorded April 18th, 2019 at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago USA.
Engineered by Matt Mehlan. Mixed by Paul Giallorenzo. Mastered by Alex Inglizian. Music by SOTOL. Coverdesign by Marte Håker.

Paul Giallorenzo Music ASCAP
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten TONO

Astral Spirits, 2018

Jason Stein -- bass clarinet
Paul Giallorenzo -- synthesizer, keyboards
Chad Taylor -- drums, percussion

"Drawing inspiration from the astral explorations of vintage Sun Ra but relocating them in gritty Chicago” – Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

“Prog-rock rears its ugly head in the best possible way” – Tom Burris, Free Jazz Collective

“. . . raucous and scintillating” – Nate Chinen, Jazz Times

Soon after the catchy synth-bass line that opens Electroradiance, listeners will start to suspect they’re in for something different. The synth-bass line has a herky-jerky contour that does fit a basic pattern of power-rock bands over the decades, but the bass clarinet melody that follows? Not so much. And halfway through, when the bass line becomes a vamp, and the improvisation enters a realm of altissimo squawks and thrillingly convoluted deep runs – well, we’re not in Kansas anymore, are we?

Electroradiance, the captivating new collection of grooves and freedom from Chicago trio Hearts & Minds, teems with such episodes. “Future Told” marches to a humorously ominous riff rooted in the cartoonish melodies of Raymond Scott in the 1930s. The dance-inducing beat of “Step’n” supports a stuttering melody from bass clarinet – and then some whole-tone keyboard swaths, pockmarked by synthesized percussion blips – before shifting to a fast swing beat and back again. That same dynamic comes into play on “Slippery Slope,” while a modified New Orleans street beat drives “Shreveport”. On the other hand, though, “Treeline” opens with a mournful melody and retains its lovely rubato tempo for the first portion; and the title track offers a space-agey tone poem – night-lonely and a little eerie – in which synthesized keyboard sounds and bass clarinet gargles become almost interchangeable.

Hearts & Minds is the brash and ballsy brainchild of Jason Stein and Paul Giallorenzo, who have remained friends since they met as grade-school classmates almost three decades ago. Employing an unusual, not to say bizarre, instrumentation, they make music that loops the solar system but maintains an irresistibly grounded pulse (despite the lack of a bassist). Giallorenzo’s keyboard work reaches back to the fledgling electronics of the 60s to encompass synth lines as well as asymmetrical tones and textures, which embrace Stein’s rangy command of bass clarinet techniques. Joining them for the first time on disc, drummer Chad Taylor simmers or percolates, utilizing his wealth of experience with such artists as Chicago tenor-sax legend Fred Anderson and his Chicago Underground cohorts Jeff Parker and Rob Mazurek.

Taylor’s history made him the perfect choice to replace Hearts & Minds’ original drummer, Frank Rosaly (who moved to Europe shortly after the trio’s debut recording). Working with Fred Anderson allowed him to learn from a free-jazz contemporary of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Pharoah Sanders, whose pioneering improvisations of the 1960s are one touchstone for Hearts & Minds. And Taylor’s collaborations with trumpeter-electronicist Rob Mazurek honed his ability to support and shape music made by electronics – the other major inspiration for Hearts & Minds, whose music reverberates with memories of Sun Ra and the jazz fusion of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.

As the title of the opening track indicates, this ability to go “Back And Forth” between two seemingly opposed camps distinguishes Hearts & Minds – as does the ability to find a fusion path that skirts them both. This same dialectic applies to the name of the band itself, as these musicians seek to achieve an aesthetic unification of expressionistic energy (heart) and intellectual formalism (mind) – all with a 21st-century voice that refers to but does not imitate past influences.

Liner notes by Neil Tesser

Jason Stein is among the mere handful of improvisers who play the bass clarinet exclusively (rather than doubling on it as a change of pace). He occasionally performs for more people in one night than most jazz musicians see in a year: his free-jazz trio Locksmith Isidore has opened arena shows for comedian Amy Schumer (his half-sister). In addition to that trio and his own quartet, he contributes to several of the leading bands on Chicago’s new-music scene, and has brought a vital voice to the freest of free-jazz jams. But he has also stated a fondness for playing actual tunes, such as those that fill the repertoire of Hearts & Minds. And while several of these songs provide a section for free improvisation, their initial frameworks provide a uniquely inviting showcase for Stein’s extraordinary expertise on the bass clarinet, which ranges from powerful post-bop lines to ear-grabbing wails in the altissimo range. Chicago writer Neil Tesser notes that his playing has “a rawboned swagger particular to Chicago jazz in all its manifestations – from the trad playing of Bud Freeman and Jimmy McPartland in the 20s, through the tenor titans of the 50s, through the adventurers who formed the AACM in the 60s, and right up to the city’s renowned modern cadre of new-music improvisers.”
Paul Giallorenzo, in addition to leading his own groups – particularly his GitGO quintets and the widely admired acoustic piano trio heard on the 2018 album Flow – has emerged as a leading virtuoso on the analog synthesizer. Giallorenzo’s work has been praised for its “inside-out” nature – his ability to push the boundaries of “conventional” jazz toward more freedom but also, on the other side, to bring a measure of structure to more avant-garde material. In addition, he is a co-founder of Elastic Arts, an important Chicago performance space and gallery, where he curates concert series, produces individual programs, and performs. Writing in the online journal Point Of Departure, John Litweiler said, “His solos and aggressive duets are gems of after-Bop, after-Bley melody,” while lauded music that “smudges the lines between the tradition and the avant-garde.”

Stein and Giallorenzo first met in sixth grade in Rockville Centre, a mid-sized Long Island suburb of New York City. Giallorenzo attended Northwestern University just north of Chicago; Stein, studying at University of Michigan, traveled frequently to Chicago before graduation, then moved there in the early 2000s. Each settled quickly into the city’s burgeoning jazz/new-music environment, which by then was attracting attention throughout North America and Europe. They first performed in the format that evolved into Hearts & Minds in 2003; Frank Rosaly came on as drummer in 2005, ably succeeded by Chad Taylor, who grew up in Chicago and now lives in New York. His discography includes more than a dozen albums under the Chicago Underground rubric, starting with the Chicago Underground Duo formed by him and Rob Mazurek; multiple albums recorded with Fred Anderson, guitarist Jeff Parker, and award-winning flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell; and one of the most critically respected albums of 2017, trumpeter Jamie Branch’s Fly Or Die.
Recorded October 24-25, 2017 by Zach Goldstein at Kawari Sound, Philadelphia, PA.
Mixed by Liberty Ellman.
Mastered by Mikey Young.
Layout & Design by Jaime Zuverza.

Tracks 2,5, 8 written by Jason Stein, Steinbassclar Publishing ASCAP
Tracks 1,3,7,11 written by Paul Giallorenzo, Paul Giallorenzo Music ASCAP
Tracks 4,9 written by Chad Taylor, Ctorb ASCAP
Tracks 6,10 written by Hearts & Minds

Special Thanks to Nate Cross, Kim Alpert, and Constellation Chicago.

Paul Giallorenzo Trio - Flow

Paul Giallorenzo - piano
Joshua Abrams - double bass
Mikel Patrick Avery - drums

For his second Delmark release, pianist and composer Paul Giallorenzo does more with less, assembling a classic piano trio backed by masters of jazz minimalism, Joshua Abrams and Mikel Patrick Avery. The writing’s not sparse: there are notes on notes, hummable heads, surprising solos, and a harmonic conception of frequently startling complexity.  But it’s always for the purpose of advancing the music. Covering wide terrain, from high energy poly-tonal swing to abstract blues to free-form invention, this trio is in tune in the truest sense, creating music that’s embedded in the jazz tradition with a sound that’s both singular and forward-thinking.

"Stunning" Review by Chicago Reader's Peter Margasak

"Maybe Flow can redefine what jazz minimalism is all about" Review by Elmore Magazine's Peter Lindblad

"The more abstract compositions contribute an aesthetic balance that points to the considerable breadth and depth of the players."Review by Chicago Jazz Magazine's Jeff Cebulski

Jason Stein — Bass Clarinet
Paul Giallorenzo — Synthesizer, E-Pianet
Frank Rosaly — Drums, Electronics

“Sometimes it’s dumb fun to think up impossible supergrouops. Maybe they help you imagine a sound you’ve never considered, a combination of histories and vectors that contradicts those that might be steered by normal forces, such as geography or genre or circle of colleagues. A parlor game designed to transcend time and place.
Here’s one: John Carter, Bernard Parmegiani, Mike Ratledge and Tony Williams. Think of the possibilities, Ratledge offers fudgy bass keyboards, circa 1970, Soft Machine’s Third, while Williams alternately takes to the breeze with a swift swinging ride or breaks things up restructurally, a wooden metronome or one-man marching band.

On clarinet, Carter gulps and whorls his way into an appealing alternate temporal-spatial framework, the one occupied and charted by Parmegiani, who, from the INA-GRM soundboard dubs the proceedings into electroacoustic ladyland. I’d love to hear it: free-prog-jazz-concrete.

In this case, the dream group’s inspiration came the other direction, rather than imagining something fictional, from listening to Hearts and Minds. Not to suggest that they sound like an additive experiment in mix-and-matchery, quite the contrary, they’re a singularly original unit. But unusual forces are at play, unique combinatorics, suggesting a confluence of ideas, newly directed teleologies, a turbulent eddy in the natural flow of creative music’s waterway.

The collective’s eponymous debut emanates from an eight year incubation, sporadic and occasionally intensive gigging resulting in the accretion of a songbook, featuring tunes and structures divided about equally between the bass-clarinetist Jason Stein and keyboardist and synthesizer player Paul Giallorenzo. Stein and Giallorenzo have known each other since they were tweens on Long Island; both based in Chicago, they’re long established members of the creative music community, key figures in the wave of players attracted to the city in the early aughts. 
From the drum-kit, also handling electronics, another stalwart Chicagoan, the indominable Frank Rosaly (originally from Phoenix, Arizona, for listeners with a scorecard) plots and plies, sculpting definite shape out of biomorphisms.

What conjures the strange amalgam of superheroes is Hearts and Minds’ gleeful trapezing between sound and swing. It feels classically Chicagoan in a couple of senses. First, there are the compositions, which have a tough and playful attitude that I associate with other great working groups of the millieu. Take the cued interjections against synth solo on “An Unfortunate Lack of Role Models.” And the notion that an erstwhile instrumentalist can also deal with electronics – analog or digital, synthesized or lap-topped, either way – is a natural thought in the Windy City, from the Chicago Underground Duo to Tortoise to Sam Prekop.

Rosaly can color things acoustically and electronically with equal aplomb; in his hands, pots and pans can mean kitchen sink percussion or potting and panning a mixing board. Giallorenzo may call to mind Sun Ra’s home recordings on Wurlitzer electric piano, a humble sonority, simple and unadorned, almost chime-like, but just as well he can put pedal to metal and kick the vehicle into overdrive. As the lone un-electrified member of the threesome, Stein calls on his thorough understanding of the longhorn’s overtones, as well as a post-bop melodicism that can hit the nursery (“Three for One”), the laboratory (“Old Balance”), the library (“Streaming”), and the barnyard (“Stocky”).

If my free-music fantasy football team had four members, perhaps that’s because Hearts and Minds seems to have an extra contributor, an x-factor, the invisible participant who throws something unexpected into the salad. 
 I have no idea who introduces the played-backwards sounds in “Irresolute,” but I love the way they complicate Rosaly’s brushwork, which can have a reverse-tracked quality of its own. Soul and rock elements are not quotational, more chromosomal – a mean synth tone, the Zigaboo Modaliste hits and “Rocket Number Nine” quirk of “Rocked and Eroded,” or even just the title “Nick Masonry.” Oblique prog, my kinda pop.

Best outcome in a game like ours, daydreaming about a theoretical ensemble: one already exists that exceeds these fantasies. A band that overtakes any presumptions, shaking them up, not playing by the book, appealing to the intellect and getting us in the gut. Winning hearts and minds.”

— JOHN CORBETT, Grand Marais, MI August 2016

Released October 7, 2016
Recorded Sept. 3, 2014 by Cooper Crain at Minbal Studios, Chicago, IL
Mixed by Cooper Crain
Mastered by Ian Rundell
Cover photo by Paul Giallorenzo of a functional art object by Jason Friedes