Lagos Blues is a mirror that reflects the broader story of jazz, its international reach as well as its inclination to come back and nourish at its American wellspring. It features his regular quartet - (saxophonist Stacy Dillard, bassist Kengo Nakamura and drummer Ulysses Owens) - supplemented by saxophonist Steve Grossman, an artist whose impact on jazz has been profound and on Ciacca directly has been transformative.
Ciacca set two days aside for his mentor, Grossman, to join him and his regular quartet in a studio at Bologna. There, they recorded Lagos Blues, a set of originals by Ciacca and Grossman along with several standards. From start to finish, Lagos Blues respects advice bestowed upon Ciacca by another friend and mentor, his Lincoln Center compatriot, Wynton Marsalis, to first and foremost add to each player's strengths and to respond to what the others are playing.
Additionally, as Director of Programming for Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ciacca serves the music of jazz on multiple levels - as a player whose sound is unique, especially in the context of our time, and as an educator who knows that to spread the word about jazz, the best thing is to let the music speak for itself.
Raised in Italy, Ciacca plays the piano with a rare blend of earthiness, fire and intellect, with elements of Wynton Kelly, Red Garland and Bobby Timmons that recall the most creatively vital and yet oddly neglected schools of jazz. Ciacca began studying at the Bologna Conservatory, but after a pivotal encounter and crucial advice from trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, he sought out Grossman, whose lessons laid a solid foundation for the young pianist. After three years, at Grossman's suggestion, he left for the States in 1993 to immerse himself fully in jazz culture, working first in Detroit and then in New York.