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Skip Grasso - Becoming (Barking Coda Music)

30 January 2023

Though better known around his home base of Baltimore than in the rest of the world, guitarist Skip Grasso clearly commands respect. On his leader debut Becoming, he’s got bassist’s bassist Harvie S and drumming legend Billy Drummond anchoring the rhythm section, and while keyboardist Anthony Pocetti may not have the same name recognition, his talent shines as brightly as that of the elder statesmen. That also goes for the leader, of course – Grasso composes tunes that set up improvisation without skimping on melody, and has the six-string skills to pull it all off. He’s particularly comfortable with ballads like “Canto Belo” (which also puts S in the spotlight with a wideranging solo) and “Three Simple Truths,” digging into note choice as the tempo slows. But he’s just as good with brighter material, as on “Don’t Forget,” “Harvie Livingston Seagull,” and “For Lou Lou, Where Ever You Are,” a sweetly written tribute to his wife. Drummond and S keep the swing swinging so Grasso and Pocetti can keep the flourishes flowing, making Becoming a low key pleasure.