Vin Venezia, The Venetian Review
Harmonic Confluence and Lyrical Flow: Vin Venezia’s The Venetian
by Nolan DeBuke
Vin Venezia’s latest offering, The Venetian, is an outstanding contemporary jazz guitar album. This project shows his mastery and innovative spirit with eleven well-known jazz tunes and one Venezia original. Released under Innervision Records, the album is a kaleidoscope of musical expressions, showcasing Venezia’s versatility and deep-rooted passion for the genre. Avid admirers of jazz guitar will undoubtedly want to pick this one up, as Venezia’s approach to these honored tunes is filled with melodicism and fervor.
Opening the project is Venezia’s rendition of “Days Of Wine And Roses.” Immediately launching into the melody, Venezia sets the stage with warm, acoustic tones from his jazz box. Lush chords and single notes weave together, forming a solid interpretation of the familiar tune.
His lyrical soloing is technically clean and precise, while his rhythm flows effortlessly. Picking and slurred notes intermingle, his ideas building in complexity and activity. Single notes give way to relaxed, flowing chords, guiding his improvisation.
Morales and Harvie S maintain a steady, swinging pulse, perfectly complementing and interacting with Venezia’s playing. This fantastic opening selection clearly foreshadows the musical excellence that awaits.
Infused with joy and exploration, the ensemble’s rendition of Miles Davis’ “Solar” presents a fascinating study in contrast. Venezia’s guitar work shifts towards a darker tone, utilizing reverb for a modern jazz feel, yet his melodic focus remains unwavering.
Budway’s piano solo gracefully bridges the gap between modern and post-bop jazz, adding depth and complexity to the track. The piece opens with a vamp and Venezia’s solo, followed by Bob Magnuson’s tenor saxophone carrying the melody with fluid ideas that explore the nuances of the rhythm section.
Next, David Budway delivers a beautiful solo brimming with elements of both modern and post-bop jazz, perfectly complementing the song’s swing feel. Venezia’s solo remains highly lyrical, balancing quick flurries of notes with melodic motifs within a rhythmic pocket. His darker tone, enhanced by reverb and delay, evokes a more modern jazz guitar sound, fitting for the history and legacy of this beloved tune.
Morales’ solo, played over a hip ostinato, is the perfect cadential figure, concluding the performance beautifully. This rendition of “Solar” is a testament to the ensemble’s joy and spirit of musical exploration, solidifying the album as a solid jazz experience.
“Nardis” unfolds at a relaxed swing tempo, Danny Walsh’s tenor sax serenading us with the melody before Venezia’s guitar steps into the spotlight. Venezia’s solo navigates the intricate harmonic landscape with masterful skill, balancing bursts of activity with clear melodic motifs. His unwavering sense of time and melodic direction guides the improvisation, perfectly complemented by Morales’ exquisite interaction. Together, they build to a powerful musical statement. Walsh seamlessly picks up the final phrase of Venezia’s solo, launching into his own melodic journey. The swing feel is infectious as his tenor sax dances through the chord progression with a robust melodic sense.
“Without A Sound,” an original composition by Venezia, brings a touch of folk-jazz to the album. Performed solo on an acoustic steel-string guitar, the piece showcases Venezia’s versatility through its captivating counterpoint. The interplay between the bass figure and the melody is intricate and beautiful, creating a mesmerizing sonic journey.
The Venetian is a journey through the various shades of jazz guitar, each track revealing a different facet of Venezia’s musical personality. His improvisational skills are modern in timbre yet anchored in a strong melodic sensibility. The album’s ensemble is notably cohesive, with each member playing with heart and contributing to the overarching narrative.
Venezia’s tone throughout the album is notably warm and woody, an auditory delight that brings out the nuances of his playing. His emphasis on melody and storytelling within his improvisations is a standout feature, offering listeners a rich and engaging experience.
In conclusion, The Venetian is a beautiful addition to the catalog of jazz guitar recordings. Vin Venezia and his ensemble have crafted a technically flowing and emotionally compelling album. It is a must-listen and serves as a shining example of the beauty and complexity of jazz guitar.