Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Stefano Battaglia: Pelagos

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Stefano Battaglia has a ten-plus year history on the ECM label where he has covered much ground in terms of formations, style and genre. The effort has not always paid off. His label debut Raccolto (2005) was a meandering affair that squandered the opportunities that come with two-discs of music. All of Battaglia's considerable talents were on display, they just didn't quite find a landing site. The pianist's follow up Re: Pasolini (2007) was the beginning of a developmental breakthrough; aspirational in its scope, it began to bring Battaglia's disparate interests into greater focus. With each additional ECM album Battaglia's work became more intriguing and, in particular, his trio formation with bassist Salvatore Maiore and drummer Roberto Dani. The traditional rhythm section allowed the non-traditional pianist to shine on The River of Anyder (2011), Songways (2012) and In the Morning (2015).

Pelagos returns to Battaglia's earlier ECM double-disc presentations and is the pianist's first solo recording. The music is all composed or improvised by Battaglia with the exception of a traditional Arab piece "Lamma Bada Yatathanna" which appears in two versions. The initial thirty minutes of the first disc encompass "Destino," the title track, "Migralia" and the first version of "Lamma Bada Yatathanna." These tracks alone are so staggeringly beautiful that they are worth the price of admission. Each reflects Battaglia's classical background, but they fall into no particular category. The mood is temporarily broken by the tonal experimentation of "Processional" and the prepared piano abstraction of "Dogon."

Disc 2 is a bit spottier in terms of consistency, opening with the minimalist "Lampedusa" and followed by "Hora Mundi," featuring a mash-up of torrential notes, rests and tranquil passages. Battaglia then returns to a more meditative mood with the second version of "Lamma Bada Yatathanna" and "Exilium" though the latter piece ends unexpectedly—and somewhat jarringly—with more prepared piano. After a bit more experimentation on "Heron," the second disc ends tranquilly with "Brenner Toccata."

Much of Pelagos is profoundly good and it is certainly the best work Battaglia has created to date. His fully improvised pieces have a composed feeling about them that is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's best solo work. When he leaves those classically informed pieces for the outlands it can be frustrating, not because of the music, but its disconcerting placement. Some may wish that Battaglia had dedicated each disc by style as he had done on Raccolto. That said, Pelagos contains much beautiful and highly recommended music.

Track Listing:
CD 1:
Destino; Pelagos; Migralia; Lamma Bada Yatathanna; Processional; Halap; Dogon; Life.
CD 2:
Lampedusa; Hora Mundi; Lamma Bada Yatathanna (var.); Exilium; Migration Mantra; Horgos e Roszke; Ufratu; Heron; Brenner Toccata.

Personnel: Stefano Battaglia: piano and prepared piano.

Title: Pelagos | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ECM Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "J.I.G.E.N" CD/LP/Track Review J.I.G.E.N
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Second Stream" CD/LP/Track Review Second Stream
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Kansas City Here I Come" CD/LP/Track Review Kansas City Here I Come
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Twin" CD/LP/Track Review Twin
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Jondo" CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017