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“City of Broken Dreams” is the ECM leader debut of the prodigiously gifted Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi. Guidi has previously appeared on two discs for the label with Enrico Rava – “Tribe” with the Rava Quintet and the live “On The Dance Floor” with the Parco della Musica Jazz Lab band. Now he introduces his new international trio with US bassist Thomas Morgan and Portuguese drummer João Lobo, and a shimmering inner-directed music of striking originality. Lyrical free-floating ballads predominate, and the tunes seem optimally set up to showcase the strengths of his confrères. Bassist Thomas Morgan has as much room to move in this unit as Scott LaFaro had in the Bill Evans trios, or Gary Peacock in Paul Bley’s groups – invited in other words to interact in the foreground of the music. Guidi is generous with his space in these pieces, all from his pen, every one of them turning some unexpected corners.

In these haunting compositions, melodies can suddenly scuttle crabwise, and rhythms may be dislocated and stretched, sometimes setting up considerable tension, as on “No Other Possibility”. Sometimes, as on “The Way Some People Live”, Guidi casts down a carpet of gentle arpeggios for Morgan to glide across. João Lobo, an acute commentator, punctuates “The Impossible Divorce”, with disconsolate lunges at tom-toms and scrapes sticks agonizingly across cymbals at the climax of “Late Blue”. As the impressions accumulate, the “City of Broken Dreams” begins to seem like a short story collection, a series of vignettes from a lonesome place, to which the listener will feel drawn to return.

Born in Foligno, Italy, in 1985, Giovanni Guidi began studying piano at 12, and was encouraged in his musical directions by Enrico Rava at summer master classes in Siena. Rava has been outspoken in his admiration for the pianist: “I've known him since he was a child, and I've watched his irresistible passion grow day by day. I watched him spend days at the piano, followed his musical growth almost daily, observing his limitless curiosity and the constant refinement of his musical taste. At this point, Giovanni is without a doubt one of the most interesting and original pianists on the Italian scene. Knowing him as I do, and having the good fortune to perform with him regularly, I'm certain that this is merely the beginning of an extraordinary career.”

In addition to the trio and his ongoing work with Rava, Guidi fronts a number of other projects including a quintet with Dan Kinzelman, Shane Endsley, Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaver, and the 10-piece Unknown Rebel Band which includes João Lobo as one of two drummers. In Italy, Guidi first drew national attention as winner of Musica Jazz
critics poll in which he was voted Best New Talent in 2007. He made his first album under his own name for Japanese label Venus; this was followed by discs for Cam Jazz.

Thomas Morgan’s artistic focus, choice of notes, improvisational daring and total commitment have made him, in a short span of time, perhaps the most sought-after bassist in new jazz. He has appeared on ECM with John Abercrombie (“Wait Till You See Her”) and Masabumi Kikuchi (“Sunrise”), is a member of Tomasz Stanko’s New York Quartet (see the new album “Wisława”) and will shortly be heard on a new recording by the Craig Taborn Trio.

João Lobo makes his first ECM appearance with “City of Broken Dreams”. The drummer began studying music at Lisbon’s Hot Club de Portugal Jazz School. In 2001 he moved to the Netherlands to continue his studies at the Hague’s Royal Conservatory. The following year he too encountered Enrico Rava in Siena, and the connection to Guidi was made simultaneously. Lobo has played with Roswell Rudd, Gianluca Petrella, Julian Arguelles, Nelson Veras, John Hebert and Michael Attias amongst others.

“City of Broken Dreams” was recorded in Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano in December 2011, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

The Giovanni Guidi Trio is touring in March, with concerts at Munich Unterfahrt (March 9), Berlin A-Trane (March 10), Lugano Studio 2 RSI (March 11), Bologna Cantina Bentivoglio (March 12), Forlì FC Liceo Musicale (March 13), Foligno Serendipity (March 14), Torino Folkclub (March 15), Volterra Teatro Persio Flacco (March 16), Rome Casa del Jazz (March 17) Bolzano Carambolage (March 18).