Enrico Pieranunzi: Special Encounter / Play Morricone

Ken Dryden By

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It's not surprising that Enrico Pieranunzi is one of the busiest jazz pianists in Europe. On two new albums, he's joined by two separate and very different American rhythm sections.

Enrico Pieranunzi
Special Encounter

Most of Special Encounter is ballad-oriented, beginning with a pair of decades-old standards. Rarely has "My Old Flame been performed so deliberately, with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian playing very spaciously in support of Pieranunzi, with "You've Changed following a similar path. But most of the CD is devoted to originals. The leader's mid-tempo Brazilian-flavored "Earlier Sea has a melancholy undercurrent while "Secret Nights is a tense, somewhat dissonant work that suggests a nightmare in progress. Pieranunzi wrote "Mo-ti in honor of the Iranian root of Motian's surname; this complex post bop vehicle has many sudden twists within it. Haden contributes three songs. The buoyant interpretation of "Waltz For Ruth suggests the influence of Bill Evans, though one can easily imagine other piano trios discovering the possibilities within the cheerful "Hello My Lovely.

Enrico Pieranunzi/Marc Johnson/Joey Baron
Play Morricone

Pieranunzi's trio with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron began in the mid '80s when the pianist was called to sub for an ill Kenny Drew. Although they've only been able to record sporadically over the past two decades, the magic is still very much there. Pieranunzi is the dominant voice, with his bandmates providing capable support and taking a few brief solos. The session focuses on the film music of Enrico Morricone, starting with the haunting but gorgeous ballad "Addio Fratello Crudele (It's a Pity She's a Whore). Other highlights include the up-tempo romp through "I Malamondo (Funny World), the shimmering "Ninfa Plebea (The Nymph) and "Le Mani Sproche (Dirty Hands), which evolves from a lyrical waltz into an explosive cooker.

Tracks and Personnel

Special Encounter

Tracks: My Old Flame; You've Changed; Earlier Sea; Nightfall; Secret Nights; Loveward; Waltz for Ruth; Miradas; Hello My Lovely; Why Did I Choose You?; Mo-Ti.

Personnel: Enrico Pieranunzi: piano; Charlie Haden: bass; Paul Motian: drums.

Play Morricone

Tracks: Addio Fratello Crudele (It's a Pity She's a Whore); I Malamondo (Funny World); La Domenica Specialmente (Especially on Sunday); Mio Caro Dottor Gräsler (The Bachelor); Ninfa Plebea (The Nymph); Jona Che Visse Nella Balena (Jonah Who Lived in the Whale); Just Beyond the Horizon; Le Mani Sporche (Dirty Hands); Quando le Donne Avevano la Coda (When Women Had Tails); Il Prato (The Meadow).

Personnel: Enrico Pieranunzi: piano; Marc Johnson: bass; Joey Baron: drums.

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