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Enrico Pieranunzi: From Always to Now

Paolo Marra By

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Enrico Pieranunzi: From Always to Now
Forty-one years after its original release on a little known but quite active independent label from the '70s, Edi Pan, Alfa Music has recently reissued From Always to Now, one the most important records by pianist and composer Enrico Pieranunzi. From Always to Now represents the high point in the pianist's hard-bop phase, during which Pieranunzi's impetuous style was heavily influenced by McCoy Tyner. Shortly afterwards, inspired by his collaboration with Chet Baker, Pieranunzi would embrace the more meditative and essential approach for which he is known today.

The album includes the first recorded version of "Night Bird," a minor blues which showcases Pieranunzi's skills both as a composer of great melodic themes and as a virtuosic improviser. The same composition would be included also in his following album Soft Journey (Edipan, 1980), another milestone in his discography, recorded in 1979 with Chet Baker, whom Pieranunzi had met in the Italian city of Macerata where he was performing with his trio featuring bassist Riccardo Del Fra and the young drummer Roberto Gatto. As Pieranunzi recalls, "Chet immediately fell in love with the piece. He included it in his repertorie and started playing and recording it all over the world, teaching it to other musicians... and very soon it became a genuine jazz standard." The artistic relationship with Baker was a highlight in Pieranunzi's career, during the '80s up to the trumpeter's death in 1988. As he recalls, their rapport was "made of few words but many very intense moments."

In addition to the original version of "Night Bird," the reissue of From Always to Now also includes a bonus track containing a rare duo version of that composition, a telepathic duo performance by Pieranunzi and acclaimed Italian saxophonist Rosario Giuliani. So far, this powerful rendition of "Night Bird" had been available to only a lucky few, as part of a rare book by Pierre Martin, a Rome-based French painter, jazz enthusiast and friend of both Rosario Giuliani and Chet Baker (who at some point had lived in Rome). The track was part of Musique pour Chet, a limited-edition CD included in Martin's tribute to Chet Baker, Omaggio a Chet Baker, a book published by La Camera Verde.

As Pieranunzi recounts in the reissue's liner notes, the album represents the recording debut of drummer Roberto Gatto who, at the time of the recording, was only 20 years old. Pieranunzi had discovered Gatto at the Folk Studio, the historic Rome venue which in those days acted as an incubator of the local jazz scene. The album also features two other reference players from that scene, Maurizio Giammarco on tenor and soprano saxophones and Bruno Tommaso on double bass. As such, From Always to Now documents an extraordinary period for the development of Jazz in Italy, and Rome in particular. Thinking back about those times, Pieranunzi describes them as "a period of great creativity and experimentation... the scene was much more happening than at the end of the previous decade, when I had started performing." The vibrancy of that era is in full display throughout the album, which can be seen as a bold artistic statement by a new breed of ambitious musicians on their way to becoming some of the most accomplished players on the European scene.

The original album contains four compositions by Enrico Pieranunzi (Night Bird, A Silent Essence, Song for Edda, Poseidia), one by Maurizio Giammarco (Le Cose Come Ti Ritornano), well as compelling renditions of "Con Alma" by Dizzy Gillespie and "Oleo" by Sonny Rollins.

From Always to Now marked the beginning of Enrico Pieranunzi's ascent as one of leading jazz pianists of his generation, with a career that has taken him all over the world, including to the legendary Village Vanguard in New York, where he performed for the first time in 2010 with Paul Motian on drums and Marc Johnson on bass, two historic collaborators of Bill Evans, a pianist that had exerted a key influence on him.

Track Listing

Night Bird; Con Alma; A Silent Essence; Le cose come ti ritornano; Song for Edda; Poseidia; Oleo; Night Bird (bonus track).

Personnel

Enrico Pieranunzi: piano; Bruno Tommaso: bass, acoustic; Roberto Gatto: drums; Maurizio Giammarco: saxophone; Rosario Giuliani: saxophone, alto.

Album information

Title: From Always to Now | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Alfamusic

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