Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
215

Stefano Bollani: Piano Solo

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Stefano Bollani: Piano Solo Stefano Bollani is making the kind of big splash that only the ECM label can stir up, but his high profile has been prepared by his earlier work, both solo and in groups. Meeting trumpeter Enrico Rava in 1996 while playing behind Italian pop star Jovanotti proved fortuitous, helping push Bollani to commit to jazz. The two players made twelve albums together, culminating in his being an integral part of Rava's Easy Living (ECM, 2004) and Tati (ECM, 2005).

Piano Solo contains sixteen pieces, all but one of which are less than six minutes, and they have a wide stylistic range, including standards (both old and newer), free improvisation, Italian pop songs and even Brian Wilson's "Don't Talk," from Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966). Bollani's style, then, cannot be discerned in what he plays, but rather how he plays it. The fact that he is classically trained (a severely strict and formal approach to playing) cannot be missed, and his touch is exquisite and infinitely varied—the hallmark of a classical pianist.

All pianists playing at this level sound in control, but with Bollani control is central to his conception. Masters of the past such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven could and did improvise, and such a skill is now lost for the most part in today's classical musicians. What Bollani does sounds very much how one would conceive a modern classical musician improvising, if one could.

This control of technical virtuosity leads to a feeling of reserve and intimacy, which some might wish escaped more than it did on the record (as on "Improv II" for example). Even on an upbeat piece like "Buzzillare," Bollani still exudes restraint, even in the thicker passages, leading one to ask for some letting go—for even, heaven's forbid, a mistake or a hesitation.

The last third of the album contains three extremely well known tunes, "Do You What It Means To Miss New Orleans," "On The Street Where You Live" and "Maple Leaf Rag," plus the aformentioned "Don't Talk," and on these pieces Bollani shines. Having drifted away from wanting an artist to introduce himself through his take on the familiar, and moving towards enjoying the new as a way to get to know a player, I was surprised by how entirely fresh these pieces sounded.

If you know someone who loves classical music, Piano Solo is a wonderful album which can serve as an introduction to the immensely rewarding world of jazz.


Track Listing: Antonia; Impro i; Impro ii; Impro on a theme by Sergey Prokofiev; Promenade; Impro iii; A Media Luz; Impro iv; Buzzilare; Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?; Como Fue; On the street where you Live; Maple Leaf Rag; Sarcasmi; Don't Talk.

Personnel: Stefano Bollani: piano.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Read more articles
Joy in Spite of Everything
Joy in Spite of...
ECM Records
2014
buy
O que sera
O que sera
ECM Records
2013
buy
Volare
Volare
Label Bleu
2012
buy
[no cover]
Big Band! Live In...
Label Bleu
2011
buy
[no cover]
Jazz Italiano Live...
Label Bleu
2011
buy
[no cover]
Dom De Iludir
Label Bleu
2009
buy

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus
Support our sponsor

Sponsor: Motéma Music | BUY IT  

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.