In 1990 the great hard-bop drummer Art Blakey passed from this earth. His bands had been delivering “the message” for nearly fifty years. Also in 1990, pianist Paolo Di Sabatino graduated from the Conservatory of baritone, Italy. This young man could have, probably would have been an excellent fit in Blakey’s Messengers. His piano concepts fit nicely within the James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Benny Green, Geoff Keezer lineage.
Mr. Di Sabatino was recognized as one of Italy’s best new artists in 1990 and has previously released Foto Rubate (Splasc(h) 1997) and a live session from the Pomigliano Jazz Festival Introducing Paolo Di Sabatino (Hallway 1999).
This latest date is a trio session with the ever capable sidemen, bassist John Patitucci (Chick Corea and Roy Haynes) and drummer Horacio Hernandez (Los Hombres Calientes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba). Threeo, a fine introduction to this young pianist, features half standards and half Di Sabatino originals. As you listen you can feel that his bop vibe on Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations” is flavored with a whimsical feel. Di Sabatino, while playing in the tradition, reveals a contagious sensitivity. Covering Nat Adderley’s “The Old Country” his sympathy to melody parallels that of Keith Jarrett.
Di Sabatino’s original, “Coco’s Way,” is an infectious samba-like romp with Patitucci and Hernandez propelling the excitement in a style drawn on Ahmad Jamal’s percussive attack. Di Sabatino has the makings of a fine post-bop pianist. His leaning toward a Latin percussive feel places him in a league with Danilo Perez. He can tear it up as on “That’s All” or switch to an aggressive sensitive mode “Sotto la neve,” a mark of a musician to keep one’s eye on.