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Leo Blanco: Pianoforte (2013)

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Leo Blanco: Pianoforte How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The title of Leo Blanco's third album, Pianoforte, makes it clear: this is just one man and one piano. But it's an exceptional instrument, played by an exceptional musician.

Blanco's 2009 album Africa Latina (Ayva Musica) and 2004's self-produced Roots & Effect featured international ensembles including guitarist Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
b.1973
guitar
, bassist Peter Slavov
Peter Slavov
Peter Slavov

bass, acoustic
, saxophonist Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
b.1946
saxophone
and drummer Antonio Sanchez
Antonio Sanchez
Antonio Sanchez
b.1971
drums
. Alone on stage, bereft of the support of these talented artists, Blanco shows no sign of hesitancy or lack of confidence. His playing flows gracefully, his improvisations retaining the same highly-focused melodic sense displayed in his more tightly written tunes.

Pianoforte was recorded over two nights at the Teatro Cesar Rengifo in Mérida, Blanco's Venezuelan hometown. One night was kept private, and on the other he played in front of an audience—some of each performance is captured here. The sound from both nights is exceptionally clear; each nuance of Blanco's playing is apparent.

All of the compositions are by Blanco, with the exception of Simon Diaz's "Tonada del Cabrestero," which Blanco plays with great finesse. Some of these tunes have appeared on Blanco's previous releases—"Peru Lando" is on Africa Latina; "Roots & Effect," "Dancers" and "Light Over Dark" are all on Roots & Effect. On Pianoforte Blanco gives each tune space and tranquility, room to reveal some of their more subtle and melancholy qualities. "Improvisation I" is particularly impressive—a ten-minute piece that's full of romance and warmth, shifting from dramatic, percussive sections through sparkling arpeggios to what sounds briefly like Blanco's take on The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
' "Eleanor Rigby."

"Haiku For Midnight Bells And Piano" is brief but beautiful. Blanco's sparse and considered response to the sound of nearby church bells chiming the witching hour creates a "duet" between the bells and the piano that delightfully draws the album to its close.


Track Listing: Vals #5; Peru Lando; Tonada del Cabrestero; Dancers; Improvisation I; Interludio; Desiguales; Light Over Dark; Improvisation II; Roots & Effect; Haiku For Midnight Bells And Piano.

Personnel: Leo Blanco: piano.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Modern Jazz


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