Born in Italy and now based in New York City, the 30-year-old guitarist has developed an astounding technique and concept informed not by jazz guitarists so much as by bebop pioneers like Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and the classical-guitar tradition. His new digital-only EP series showcases Grasso in the solo-guitar format, where his intensive studies of both midcentury jazz and classical meld into a signature mastery that is, remarkably, at once unprecedented and evocative.
In his interview for Vintage Guitar magazine’s February 2016 cover story, Pat Metheny was asked to name some younger musicians who’d impressed him. “The best guitar player I’ve heard in maybe my entire life is floating around now, Pasquale Grasso,” said the jazz-guitar icon and NEA Jazz Master. As he’s done with many rising jazz stars, Metheny later invited Grasso over to his New York pad to jam and share some wisdom. He’s since become a generous presence in Grasso’s life, and his assessment of Grasso’s playing is—no surprise—spot-on.
On his initial Sony Masterworks recordings, Pasquale explores standards, ballads, and the repertoire of Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, showcasing his sweeping abilities in the most intimate possible setting. In 2012, the same year that Pasquale toured extensively as a Jazz Ambassador on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, the guitarist relocated to New York. He hit the scene running, soon enough becoming part of working bands led by Ari Roland and Chris Byars, and settling into a regular gig with the late, great saxophonist Charles Davis. Grasso has also performed with Freddie Redd, Frank Wess, Leroy Williams, Ray Drummond, Steve Grossman, Tardo Hammer, Jimmy Wormworth, John Mosca, Sacha Perry, Bucky Pizzarelli, China Moses, Harry Allen, Grant Stewart and Joe Cohn.