Guitarist Skip Grasso has long been a local legend in the Baltimore/Washington DC area where he has been heard with big bands, smaller combos, and as an unaccompanied soloist. While he has written two books filled with transcriptions of guitar solos by bluesmen Freddie King and Gatemouth Brown, he is actually a creative jazz improviser. He has recorded with the Don Junker Big Band, the Hank Levy Alumni Band and a quintet that he leads with bassist Phil Ravita but had never led his own record date.
Becoming fills that gap. Grasso is featured in a quartet with Anthony Pocetti (piano, organ and electric piano), bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Drummond performing eight of his own compositions, covering a wide variety of moods. “Belew’s Knot” gets the set off to a strong start, evolving from an out-of-tempo ballad to a medium-tempo romp that has solos from each of the four musicians. “Harvie Livingston Seagull” is a warm and atmospheric ballad. “Three Simple Truths” is haunting, “Don’t Forget” is a samba rhythm with some speedy guitar lines, “Canto Belo” is another thoughtful ballad (with a fine bass solo), and is followed by the medium-tempo “Garry On A Bike Ride” and a joyful “For Lou Lou, Where Ever You Are.” The set concludes with the hard-swinging “Spring Forward.”
Throughout Becoming, Skip Grasso displays plenty of versatility and consistently impressive skills both as a soloist and in his interplay with Pocetti; he is also a skilled composer. Hopefully he will have more opportunities to record as a leader in the future.
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian
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