Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Giardullo, Joe (Joseph Ralph Giardullo)

Giardullo, Joe (Joseph Ralph Giardullo), soprano saxophone, flutes, bass clarinet, alto and tenor saxophones; born: Brooklyn, New York, 24 July 1948. He started the saxophone at age 8; hearing Steve Lacy on record with Gil Evans (Big Stuff) inspired him to pursue the soprano saxophone.

He was originally a product of rhythm and blues and jazz, but later became influenced by ethnic musics, Stockhausen, Berio, and others.  After a short period based in Amsterdam, Holland, Joe returned to live and work 100 miles north of New York. From about 1980 until 1991, with very rare exceptions, he played only soprano saxophone, privately, at home, though he did visit Portugal for the first time in 1984. Then he met up with saxophonist/trumpeter Joe  McPhee one night at a club. Soon after, McPhee called and asked if Joe would play soprano duets with him at his father's funeral. That meeting in 1991 marked the beginning of a continuing collaboration. And it has also reintroduced audiences in the US, Canada and Europe to Giardullo's music.

He is a charter member of McPhee's Bluette (with Mike Bisio and Dominic Duval) , and has collaborated with a long and growing number of important creative musicians, including Steve Lacy, Milford Graves, Bobby Bradford, Carlos Zingaro, Alex Cline, Marilyn Crispell, Roy Campbell, Daunik Lazro, Raymond Boni, and trumpeter Gordon Allen from Ontario, Canada. Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening concepts have had a lasting effect on him, and The Oliveros Foundation has commissioned two works by Giardullo (Elemental Odes & Autumn Rhythm: For Jackson Pollack). He branched out into bass clarinet, flutes, alto and tenor saxophone. But in the early 2000s he again specialized in soprano.

2003 was a good year for Giardullo. He began the year on January 4th playing a duo concert with Milford Graves, then worked with Rodrigo Amado and violinist Carlos Zingaro in Lisbon. In 2004 he started out at MIDEM in Cannes, France, then played with Steve Lacy in Montreal at McGill University.  A spring tour in Poland (and a residency at Warsaw's Center For Contemporary Art) was followed by a summer tour in Portugal, where Joe had a residency at Lugar Comum, Lisbon to conduct his G2 Music for Creative Chamber Ensemble. Another meeting with Carlos Zingaro produced another recording which will arrive in 2005.

The variety of his experiences has led him to work with a chorus in Poland (the Cappella Musica Antique Orientalis choir and its Russian conductor Lean Zaborowski; their collaboration with Gairdullo is still in the planning stage), with a pan-African percussion collective in the States, with laptop computer trios in Portugal, with the Texan pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and with a Portuguese band of tablas and Portuguese guitar and invented instruments (a biscuit can two string banjo connected to lo-fi electronics, for example). He has a strong interest in the visual arts, which he feels are in many ways analogous to music. He has collected some tribal art pieces from Africa and the Pacific Island. He is very interested in and influenced by modern art such as Jackson Pollock, but equally by folk art and naive art and art brut. For one year, for instance,  he played the soprano sax as a drum, letting his fingers and hands work the keys not for notes but for rhythm alone. For seven years he studied Indian rhythm, and rhythm in general is a special focus for him. His "Heart of Udu" is a piece for 12 udu drums  (clay drums) and saxophone that was commissioned by the Udu Drum division of Latin Percussion Corporation. It was originally to be performed in Frankfurt some years ago but was rescheduled for Los Angeles, at the Percussive Arts Society conference where 19 professional percussionists performed.

The concept behind his "G2 Music For Creative Chamber Group" is to develop a community aesthetic among a very non-traditional grouping of musicians, combining  amateur and professional musicians, schooled and self-taught musicians. He has noted that large ensembles of freely improvising musicians usually end up making a collective sound that's analogous to putting lots of colors of paint together -- As he says, "generally you wind up with something that's brown, not very interesting." It seems counter-intuitive, but instead of lisenting to each other he asks each player to commit to a personal idea, big or small, and not listen or adapt to what is going on around them. The results are highly musical and impressive.

Joe Giardullo GRAVITY (1979)
Joe McPhee IN THE SPIRIT (1999)
Joe McPhee NO GREATER LOVE (2000)
Joe Giardullo SPECIFIC GRAVITY (2001)
Joe Giardullo SHADOW & LIGHT (2002; recorded 9/11/01)
Joe Giardullo LANGUAGE OF SWANS (2002)
Joe Giardullo ART SPIRIT (2002)
Joe Giardullo NOW IS (2003)
Steve Lacy MONTREAL ENSEMBLE CBC broadcast/recording unreleased (2004)
John Heward LET THEM PASS (2004)
Joe Giardullo FALLING WATER (2004)
Joe Giardullo WEATHER (2004)
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