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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything

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Like a kind of musical contortionist, Stefano Bollani keeps repositioning himself with eye-popping ease. The diversity and eclecticism of Bollani's projects are reflected in the sweeping breadth of his vocabulary; his output as leader on ECM alone, since his debut Piano Solo (ECM, 2006), is indicative of his adventurous spirit. That solo outing was followed by Orvieto (ECM, 2011), a joyous duologue with Chick Corea, whereas the exhilarating O Que Sera (ECM, 2013) coupled the Italian with Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda. With Bollani virtuosity is a given, but the pianist's first ECM effort fronting a group is a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything

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Anyone who's had the pleasure of watching pianist Stefano Bollani in concert--whether it's in duo with fellow Italian, trumpter Enrico Rava, at the 2009 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival; in the trumpeter's New York Days quintet at the ECM 40th Anniversary celebration, part of the 2010 Enjoy Jazz Festival; or in one of his own various contexts (solo, trio, large ensemble)--knows that, above all, joy is fundamental to the music he makes. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious, as on his 2013 duo release with bandolim master Hamilton De Holanda, O Que Sera (ECM), where these two virtuosos could barely contain themselves and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything

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Largely unacquainted as a unit, the quintet that formed around Italian pianist Stefano Bollani for Joy in Spite of Everything connects with the empathetic familiarity of a long-standing group. The leader--a professional pianist since the age of fifteen--has crossed over most every genre from classical to avant-garde and with equal proficiency. While his early encounters with fellow Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava set him a course for jazz, he has sharpened those skills in the diverse company of saxophonists Gato Barbieri and Phil Woods, guitarist Pat Metheny, free jazz pioneer drummer Han Bennink and many others. The creative sense that Bollani ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefano Bollani / Hamilton de Holanda: O que sera

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Intentional or not, ECM's simultaneously release of Iranian kamencheh master Kayhan Kalhor and Turkish baglama expert Erdal Erzincan's Kula Kulluk Yakişir Mi (2013) with O que será, which captures a positively electrifying 2012 performance by efferverscent Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim virtuoso Hamilton de Holanda, does more than merely celebrate the intimate potential of the duo. Variants, they may be, but there are also timbral similarities between de Holanda's bandolim (mandolin) and Erzincan's baglama (saz) in their use of doubled (or, in the case of the baglama, sometimes tripled) strings.There, however, the comparisons end. Previous ECM ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stefano Bollani / Hamilton de Holanda: O que sera

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There's a relative paucity of piano and guitar duo recordings; Bill Evans and Jim Hall in the world of jazz, Horacio Salgán and the late Ubaldo de Lio in the world of tango, and Pamela and Robert Trent in the classical world are notable exceptions. When it comes to crossover, jazz pianist Michel Camilo and flamenco guitarist Tomatito's collaborations Spain (Verve, 2000) and Spain Again (Decca Music Group, 2006) set the bar high with their exhilarating blend of Afro-Caribbean, tango, jazz and flamenco flavors. To this short list, Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim (10-string mandolin) player Hamilton de ...

INTERVIEWS

Stefano Bollani: And Now For Something Completely Different

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Impersonating singer Paolo Conte and other Italian cultural icons comes as naturally to pianist Stefano Bollani as interpreting the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Michael Jackson, Brian Wilson, or Maurice Ravel--or indeed, writing novels. To say that Bollani is multitalented is a bit like saying Art Tatum could play the piano a bit. Oh, and Bollani plays the piano a bit like Art Tatum, when he's of a mind. However, as Orvieto (ECM, 2011) --a live recording with pianist Chick Corea elegantly demonstrates, Bollani possesses a delightfully light touch and an uncommon fluidity of ideas. Known for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chick Corea / Stefano Bollani: Orvieto

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Though Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani hail from opposite sides of the Atlantic they're kindred spirits in many ways. Two of jazz's more prolific musicians, both have explored music in any number of settings. Both embrace the roots and traditions of jazz yet refuse to be shackled. A love of Latin melodies is also common ground, but perhaps what binds them most are their boundless curiosity and an inherent desire to be at play. Corea recorded Play (Blue Note, 1992) with Bobby McFerrin and this could be Volume 2, as playfulness royally trumps virtuosity in dialogues imbued with joy.



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