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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Stone in the Water

ECM 179 4161



1. Dom de iludir
2. Orvieto
3. Edith
4. Brigas nunca mais
5. Il cervello del pavone
6. Un sasso nello stagno
7. Improvisation 13 en la mineur
8. Asuda
9. Joker in the Village

Stefano Bollani - Piano
Jesper Bodilsen - Bass
Morten Lund - Drums


From my previous reviews of Stefano Bollani on this website, you'll know that I think he's a great, exciting pianist. In one of those reviews I noted that "Bollani coaxes a flowing, liquid sound from the piano" and this is certainly evident on this CD - Stefano's first ECM album with his "Danish trio", which has been playing together for six years. Their togetherness is clear, as the bass and drums of Jesper Bodilsen and Morten Lund support and respond to Bollani's piano.

As it is called a "Danish Trio", you may not be surprised that much of the album is in the subdued style which now seems endemic throughout Scandinavia. Many of the tunes are slow numbers in which the bassist's role is often simply to supply an ostinato, while the drummer adds decorations on the cymbals. The results are very tuneful but the atmosphere is rather rarefied, and I miss the fireworks which I have seen Stefano produce at concerts (there are several examples on YouTube). There are also few signs of the humour with which Bollani has often often salted his performances.

However, if you like gentle, thoughtful music (which I also enjoy), you will appreciate this album. Highlights include Brigas nunca mais, a delicate performance of a Jobim tune, and Bollani's own composition Il cervello del pavone, which starts with understatement but gradually hots up. There is a good bass solo on Bollani's Asuda, which also contains some quicksilver piano and stimulating drumming.

The CD was recorded in October 2008 at the Avatar Studios in New York. A photo on the inner sleeve shows Stefano in a somewhat arid studio, seated at a grand piano surrounded by a cluster of microphones, with the bassist tucked away in a corner. Perhaps the pianist is livelier when he plays before a real live audience.

Tony Augarde 

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