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Mediterraneo: Jazz At Berlin Philharmonic VIII

ACT 9849-2





  1. Toccata

  2. Sinfonia

  3. Amarcord

  4. Chi Mai

  5. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

  6. Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto

  7. Azzurro

  8. O mio babbino caro/Mattinata

  9. Largo al factotum

  10. Fortunella

    Stefano Bollani - Piano

    Jesper Bodilsen - Bass

    Morten Lund - Drums

    Vincent Peirani - Accordion, accordina

    Geir Lysne - Arranger, conductor

    Mitglieder der Berliner Philharmoniker

    I've long enjoyed the work of the Italian pianist, Stefano Bollani. He is both multi-talented and tremendously versatile, equally at home with a symphony orchestra, a pop or rock band and, of course, in a jazz setting. He had a long musical association with his compatriot, trumpet maestro Enrico Rava, most recently on the album, New York Days. Alongside his exemplary performances at the keyboard, he is a composer, singer, writer and television presenter. He has been part of numerous collaborations across a range of genres. I recall fruitful partnerships with Chick Corea on the disc Orvieto and with Hamilton De Hollanda (the latter on the bandolim) on their O Que Ser album, both recordings on ECM. For the past ten years or so, he has led a trio made up of Bollani himself on piano with his Danish colleagues, Jesper Bodilsen on contrabass and Morten Lund on drums. Those musicians join him on this CD, together with the French jazz accordionist, Vincent Peirani, who has been building a considerable reputation for himself in recent years. The other bonus on this recording is the presence of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. ACT, of course, have a Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic series, of which this is part.

    For this disc, aptly titled Mediterraneo, Bollani has drawn on the richness of Italian music, classical and contemporary. The result is a delight. After a brief nod in the direction of aToccata by Monteverdi, we are treated to theSinfonia from the same opera by that composer, L' Orfeo. This is a vivacious and stirring treatment with a fine viola solo from Martin Stegner which maintains the overall mood, and dynamic performances from Bollani and Peirani. Listen for the interwoven traces of themes fromThe Good, The Bad And The Ugly and Cinema Paradiso. Amarcord, a Nino Rota composition for a Fellini film, is piano only, brief but satisfying. Ennio Morricone's Chi Mai, a piece which made second place in the British pop charts in 1981, through widespread exposure in a BBC TV production, The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George, was also written for a movie. Here it receives a rhythmic, blues-tinged approach from Bollani. The orchestra play their part splendidly as does accordionist Vincent Peirani. The tempo is unusual and Geir Lysne deserves plaudits for an imaginative arrangement. There's a sombre ending. As for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Bollani demonstrates once more his sure touch. After a deceptively slow beginning, he positively surfs along with Peirani in close attendance. The orchestra excels, especially the strings. Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion, (the English translation of the Italian film title), is an interesting, largely orchestral, setting for the sixth track.

    The up-tempo Azzurro features a Bill Evans-like performance from Bollani, deft and lyrical, while Jesper Bodilson delivers a bass solo of quality. The familiar strains of Puccini's O mio babbino caro are played movingly on piano with sensitive orchestral accompaniment to match. The melody segues into the well-known early twentieth century piece Mattinata, later turned into a popular song, You're Breaking My Heart Cause You're Leaving. It makes for an excellent combination. Largo al factotum from Rossini's The Barber Of Seville is a romp for Bollani, the great Vincent Peirani and the orchestra, imbued by the spirit of sheer good humour. Even purists may be inclined to cheer! Finally, Fortunella. Although written for the Fellini movie of that name, it will forever be associated with The Godfather triology. Here, the tempo is different from what we might expect but, once more, the arrangement nails it.

    Recorded live in concert, this event is a feast of good music and musicianship. It may even be my favourite Stefano Bollani CD. The audience were fortunate indeed to be present at this thoroughly enjoyable celebration of Italian musical creativity. The good news is that we can share it, thanks to ACT.

    James Poore


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