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Love Ballads features the criminally under recognized pianist Art Lande along with saxophonist Maurizio Giammarco, drummer Roberto Gatto and bassist Piero Leveratto, performing a series of classic love ballads and two Lande originals. Periodically, Lande is prone to skirt the non-mainstream side of things but here performs wonderfully with his equally adept cohorts. Giammarco’s husky, corpulent sounding tenor performance on Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” is a throwback to the great’s of yesteryear ala Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. On this piece, the tenorist employs delightful inflections and expert utilization of vibrato as he demonstrates his commanding presence yet articulates soft, heartfelt dialogue. Cole Porter’s “I Love You”, features Latin underpinnings which makes for a vivacious up-tempo affair. These gents are having a blast and it shows! Here, Lande, is in superb form through ingenious melding of –off center- lyricism, supplemented by quick, bop-ish right hand leads and unanticipated chord voicings while seldom if ever losing the melody and familiar theme. A feisty version of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love” ensues as the rhythm section of Leveratto and Gatto create a loose funk-swing feel as Art Lande throws the book at you while pulling out all the stops on piano. Lande’s classic stylizations of swing, balladry and cute thematic statements are further proof of his estimable stature in modern jazz. Giammarco commences “Stella By Starlight” with briefly stated motifs which manufactures a sense of uncertainty as the listener is prepped for a full fledged swing romp aided by Lande’s quick delivery behind the keys. One of two Lande originals represented here is his composition titled, “French Love” which is a pensive ballad enhanced by Giammarco’s graceful performance on soprano sax.
On Love Ballads, the Quartet provide a distinct edge as they put their indelible stamp on a bunch of classics which have seen the light of day, perhaps a thousand fold. This quartet peels the meat away from the bone and get to the bare essentials in joyous yet effortless fashion. If you wouldn’t mind hearing your beloved classics with verve and a smidgen of audacity then Love Ballads is for you! * * * * 1/2
Track listing: 1) The Man I Love 2) I Love You 3) Lover Man 4) Lover 5) What Is This Thing Called Love 6) This Love Of Mine 7) In Your Own Sweet Way 8) Stella By Starlight 9) French Love 10) The End Of A Love Affair