Stefano di Battista: Parker's Mood (2005)
Perhaps it's his Old World rootsoften a facile explanation for things that run much deeperbut di Battista's universe is touchingly romantic, nostalgic, and connected with the past. When he takes on a ballad like "Embraceable You," he summons a late night atmosphere with lit candles and quiet contemplation, due in no small part to his delicate, understated alto tone and persistently melodic emphasis. The rhythm section, most prominently featuring pianist Kenny Barron (who takes a suave solo of his own), is supportive but never gets in the way of the leader's vision.
The ghost of Dizzy Gillespie rears its head a couple of times on the opening "Salt Peanuts," an overused tune that remains infectiously enthusiastic; and a funky, upbeat version of "A Night in Tunisia." The rest of the album touches all the bases: blues, swing, a bit of Latin rhythm, more downtempo balladry, and a whole lot of peppery bop. These ten tunes (plus six others which don't appear here) were all recorded in a single day, proof of the band's instant comfort in such familiar, time-tested surroundings. Trumpeter Flavio Boltro steps in on four tracks, most dramatically in muted form on "Hot House," but Parker's Mood is otherwise a classic quartet effort.
While listeners on a quest for radical reinvention are guaranteed to find this friendly collection a disappointment, they will likely be far outnumbered by those who appreciate traditional tunes performed elegantly in their native context. Di Battista has quietly wormed his way into the heart and soul of his long-time herowhom he describes as "the greatest alto player in the world"and the results are proof positive that Bird lives.
Track Listing: Salt Peanuts; Embraceable You; Night in Tunisia; Parker's Mood; Confirmation; Donna Lee; Laura; Hot House; Congo Blues; 'Round Midnight.
Personnel: Stefano di Battista: alto and soprano saxophones; Kenny Barron: piano; Rosario Bonaccorso: bass; Herlin Riley: drums; Flavio Boltro: trumpet.
Record Label: Blue Note Records