Music for Music: Joe Policastro Trio, Part 3


Joe Policastro Trio: Musical Inevitability

By Dan Ursini c2017

Telling the truth through music is central to the Joe Policastro Trio. Discovering that truth involves a felt sense of inevitability about both the song and the particular instrument used to play it. Guitarist Dave Miller explained that “any instrument begs to be played a certain way. I don’t mean the guitar, in general, but a guitar begs to be played a specific way, based on make/model/etc. and the particular nuances of any instrument. Similarly, any particular song can send a similar message to the musician. So, I try not to get in the way of that inevitability and let the song and the instrument go where they want to go. It’s sort of like a gravitational pull.”

This respect for the essence of a song allows them to pull off some exceptional arranging feats. Many of their covers compare very well against the originals. Some are masterful, period. A chief example is their “Yojimbo,” the theme song composed by Satô Masaru for the splendid Kurosawa Samurai film of the same name. It was written for a big band with studio strings.

The Joe Policastro Trio version links directly to the essence of the song as it convincingly depicts dimensions of the samurai mindset: anticipation, menace, insight, composure, honor. Though Miller rarely uses any effects on his guitar, here he employs a thick fuzz-tone. The whole of it conveys deep over-driven power while staying graceful and balanced.

Impressive as this is, this band shows its openness to playing the moment in a freewheeling rendition of “Yojimbo” done live in December, beginning at 15: 15 at the link below:

Sometimes a song can be written with a lot of levels to it, but if it is brought to the public as a support element in a movie’s story, the only level people pay attention to is the level required by the  film. That is surely the case with the Fred Neil song,”Everybody’s Talking,” As sung by Harry Nilsson, it was used in Midnight Cowboy, a deeply sad movie.

The Joe Policastrio Trio’s version goes in a direction that delivers much fresh air to this composition. After opening with the film’s delicate but doomy theme, Mikel Avery’s shuffle rhythm kicks in, and it becomes a road song, one evoking open skies and sunlit chances.


Links to related columns:

Music for Music: Joe Policastro Trio (Part 1)

Music for Music: Joe Policastro Trio (Part 2)

Link to Dave Miller, Guitarist   

Joe Policastro Trio Website 


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