“The best guitar player I’ve heard in maybe my entire life,” says Pat Metheny about Pasquale Grasso, the young guitarist who has succeeded in defining a genuinely original and unique approach to jazz guitar. He was born 29 years ago in Ariano Irpino, central Italy, and began playing music at the age of four. When he was nine, his parents who had noticed his enthusiasm with jazz referred him to Agostino Di Giorgio, a former student of Chuck Wayne, who further groomed the young prodigy and began to spread the word about his talent. When he was ten, he attended a master class with the great bebop pianist Barry Harris, who worked with Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, and Cannonball Adderley, and they too had an immediate connection. Pasquale became a dedicated student of Harris as well as a significant contributor to Harris’s international workshops, and before long an instructor in his own right. Over the last decade, as the guitar-teaching assistant, he has led workshops around the world.
Pasquale continued his classical guitar studies at the Conservatory of Music in Bologna, and developed a new concept, connecting classical tradition with Chuck Wayne’s modern technique. Five years ago, he moved to NYC and soon became an integral part of the lively local jazz scene. He is a member of the Ari Roland Quartet and the Chris Byers Quartet, performs in clubs and festivals, and records and collaborates with dozens of artists. As a Jazz Ambassador for the US Department of State, he performed worldwide, and in 2015, he won the first prize at the Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition.
His playing has a precise and sharp mix of innovation and invention alongside a strong link to the past. “This guy is doing something so amazingly musical and so difficult,” notes Pat Metheny in an interview for Vintage Guitar Magazine. “In a way, it is a little bit of a throwback, because his model – which is an incredible model to have – is Bud Powell. He has somehow captured the essence of that language from piano onto guitar in a way that almost nobody has ever addressed. He’s the most significant new guy I’ve heard in many, many years. That’s exciting for me.”
Pasquale Grasso: Guitar
Photographer : Stefania Curto