There’s a common theme among the last few jazz reviews I’ve written, and that’s geography–Peter Lin‘s Taiwan, Tuomo Uusitalo’s Finland, Marton Juhasz’s Hungary and Aikra Tana’s Japan. Guitarist Luca di Luzio isn’t shy about discussing the relationship between jazz and other parts of the world in his aptly named new album Globetrotter. Each of his original compositions pay tribute to his travels around the world as a jazz musician, and how he was influenced by particular musicians as well as events. Born in Italy and trained at the Conservatorio di Musica Frescobaldi di Ferrara, di Luzio has mastered electric, acoustic and classical guitars with the help of such mentors as Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Les Wise and Dean Brown.
Globetrotter doesn’t address the blending of cultures in the same way as those other albums. Luca di Luzio isn’t inserting folk instruments to imply these connections nor is he using traditional themes that are equally representative. He plays it close to his heart, sticking with a mellow fusion style that’s his own, so there’s a consistency to each of these tracks. It’s about the specific emotional connections he has made to certain people, many who have decided to play on this album such as Brown. Luca di Luzio also shapes his compositions around experiences that have changed his life such as quitting a job to pursue a music career (“Jazzlife”), or playing music for his late father just before he passed (“Simple Italian Song”).
On the surface, Globetrotter does bump against the genre we grudgingly know as cool jazz, but a closer examination of the people who play on this album suggests there’s more to explore. I get excited, for example, whenever I see drummer Dave Weckl listed in the credits–he’s one of those percussion masters who can play any time signature you can think of with eloquence and style. Jimmy Haslip‘s electric bass playing has been popping up on my radar lately–he’s definitely a jazz musician in high demand. Luca di Luzio has filled out the line-up with other stellar jazz musicians such as sax player Max Ionata and keyboardist George Whitty. Listen closely and you’ll hear the mastery and the skill in every note, every solo.
Globetrotter is about all these elements, but the main reason to listen is Luca di Luzio’s guitar. He’s thoughtful in the way he adapts his style to the specific instrument, how the electric guitars have that same lonely wail as Metheny, and how the delicate acoustic guitars reveal di Luzio’s Mediterranean roots. Most of all, Globetrotter is the study of a man’s heart, and how certain memories bring out certain emotions, emotions that are easily detected in the music that’s inspired.