Stefano Bollani: Orvieto




Stefano Bollani (piano)


Stone in the Water (ECM 2080)

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Stefano Bollani (piano),

Jesper Bodilsen (bass), Morten Lund (drums)


Composed by Jesper Bodilsen


Recorded: New York, October 2008


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

The Italian jazz piano tradition is especially distinguished, with artists such as Enrico Pieranunzi, Franco D'Andrea, Dado Moroni, and Giorgio Gaslini having set the standard, over a period of years, with an impressive body of work. Despite the quality of their music, however, these artists are still mostly forgotten when American critics vote in their various polls and hand out "best of year" honors. But Stefano Bollani, the relative youngster here, is proving harder to ignore, and even the jingoistic reviewers who seem to root invariably for home town talent need to pay attention to this exemplary pianist from Milan, whose improvisations are so fresh and untethered to the conventional. Once again on this track from his 2009 CD Stone in the Water, Bollani puts together the whole package. His touch is clear and crisp yet with almost no unpleasant bite or aftertaste, none of the brittleness one hears in so many of his peers. He works with bass and drums and never tries to dominate them, yet he doesn't need to, given the forcefulness inherent in his method of understatement. He brings an advanced sense of rhythmic phrasing to his music, but never tries to show off with eccentric displacements. Instead he lets the intentionality of his melodic lines find their own paths, based on musicality not licks. Probably his only limitation is the audience—can they dig an artist who does not resort to flamboyant methods and flashy tricks? Only time will tell, but count me in as an admirer.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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