The Mindful Bard – Joyette

Books, Music, and Film to Wake Up Your Muse and Help You Change the World

Album: Mario Rusca, Joyette

?There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks, and there’s the way I like to play, which is dangerously, where You’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before.?

Dave Brubeck

A Spirited and Joyous Musical Buddy to Kindle Those Inspired Moments

Piano was one of my earliest jazz proselytizers. At my music teacher’s suggestion, I’d been slowly cultivating a taste for the genre by listening to my parents? jazz records, but it took a slow-swinging Joe Sample solo, rising like a phoenix from the folk rhythms on Joni Mitchell’s Hissing of Summer Lawns, to show me how jazz was so wonderfully different.

This epiphany returned to my memory after one quick listen to Mario Rusca’s new album. I immediately tried to look him up, but it was hard to find much online in English about this guy, even though he’s shared the stage and/or studio with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Al Gray, Tony Scott, Art Farmer, Toots Thielemans, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, and Woody Shaw, among other notables.

An Italian jazz pianist and composer, Rusca has a delightfully playful style That’s barrelhouse reckless, like a hyperactive pre-teen who hasn’t become self-conscious and restrained. Judging by his honky-tonk manual agility, it appears to be either a practiced and hard-won recklessness or the sign of a phenomenal gift. I’m guessing It’s a bit of both, judging from the fact that Rusca’s also done some amazing performances from the classical repertoire.

Also remarkable are his interpretations of jazz standards, which wander quite bravely from beaten paths into bracing musical escapades. He takes ?I Fall in Love Too Easily? even further down the tender road of poignancy than most other versions, yet somehow adds to it a sense of triumph and transcendence.

Rusca’s original compositions are just as perpetually optimistic as his interpretations?an ideal of solace and stimulation for the temperamental artist at the drawing board.

Joyette manifests three of the Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth hearing: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour; and 3) it makes me want to be a better artist.