Jagged Spaces
Review by Willard Manus

Two jazz stalwarts in the Baltimore/Washington area, Skip Grasso and Phil Ravita, have teamed up on JAGGED SPACES, a winning album that showcases their unique gifts.

Grasso, a guitarist, and Ravita, a bassist, lead a quintet called the Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble. Everyone in the ensemble, which includes saxman Benny Russell, pianist Greg Small and drummer Nuc Vega, plays and composes on a high level. Thus all nine tracks on the CD are original works which have a fresh, cohesive sound to them. And they also swing like mad.

The range is wide: there is straight-ahead jazz, a somber waltz (written by Grasso as an homage to a friend who died young), a love song, a couple of Latin-tinged tunes, and lots more.

Always surprising, always inventive and captivating, JAGGED SPACES caught my attention and held me in its spell.

Leaders Grasso and Ravita have a special rapport, as evidenced by their exquisite teamwork on such tunes as “Blue Sunshine” and “Her Life Incomplete,” but I was also moved by Benny Russell’s sax work, turning just about every uptempo number into a romp. He also impressed when he switched to soprano sax and played tenderly on “All About Cynthia,” an homage to his wife.