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Jay D'Amico

Composer, arranger and pianist Jay D'Amico, who made a strong impact on the jazz scene with his release of Ponte Novello in 2001, has returned to the inspirations of Italy on his new release, Tuscan Prelude. The recording is a further exploration of D'Amico's unique fusion of jazz and classical influences and features eleven original compositions that D'Amico penned during one of his frequent visits to Italy.

"Tuscany holds a special place in my heart because of the Renaissance and the timeless art and music that that era has given us," says D'Amico. "I've studied both classical and jazz music, and I love them both," he continues, as he explains his approach. "At this point in my career, it feels right to combine them in one recording because I feel I've got a strong enough grounding in both to allow my own style to emerge."

Joining D'Amico on Tuscan Prelude are bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Ronnie Zito. D'Amico says that the music on Tuscan Prelude called for a bassist who could execute difficult passages with a bow, and "Marc was just amazing with that." Zito, who D'Amico first met when he was pianist in residence at New York's Windows on the World, also collaborated with D'Amico on Ponte Novello. "Ronnie is a drummer of great interpretive depth, insight and versatility," adds D'Amico.

Bassist Greg D'Amico (the pianist's brother) and drummer Vinnie Favata appear on the CD's final track, "Aria in D." "Greg just swings, and Vinnie--who comes out of the Rat Pack era and who played with Sammy Davis, Jr.--has an incredibly sensitive feel on the drums," enthuses D'Amico. "I couldn't have made a recording without including them somehow."

Given the seamless performance that the trio offers on Tuscan Prelude, it's remarkable to learn that they barely rehearsed before joining forces in the studio. "I like having that edge, that freshness," says D'Amico. "What you're hearing is basically a live recording."

D'Amico's sound has evolved over the years, honed in performances with his own trio and a variety of other musicians, most notably bassist and lifelong friend Milt "the Judge" Hinton, whom the pianist credits as one of the primary influences on his career. "Several years back, I played a few of the tracks on my earlier release, Ponte Novello, for Milt--he'd only performed on one track on the CD--and he just smiled at me and said, 'Man, you found your niche."

That niche can be described as the melodious intersection of two very distinct musical roads, which D'Amico says are actually not that diverse to his thinking. "My music is somewhat comparable to opera, in that it's sing-able, even though my compositions are obviously all instrumental. Jazz starts from that same European harmonic tradition and incorporates African rhythms. I'm just finding my own way around that," he explains.

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Album Review
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"Jay D'Amico plays piano with a gossamer touch and canny sense of style... there is a certain shapeliness to each solo and a tangible sense of touch, like good sculpture.

--Fred Bouchard, Down Beat

"Jay D'Amico's Ponte Novello... works like a well-oiled Swiss timepiece… fresh and charming. Pure enchantment.

--Jack Bowers

"Excellent piano playing... Improvisation is original, creative, clever and yet still retains musicality as opposed to cliches--a trap that some of the big name piano players fall into.

--Charlie Ventura, Jr.

"Simply marvelous piano!"

--Joe Franklin

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Nocturne: Jazz Under...

Consolidated Artists Productions


Tuscan Prelude

Consolidated Artists Productions



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