Imaginative Italian here to build the atmosphere
Stefano Bollani Trio
'Stone in the Water' (ECM)
Bollani (piano), Jesper Bodilsen (double bass), Morten Lund (drums)
Bollani is in a reflective mood throughout this album. His laid-back tranquillity contrasts with the exuberant concert personality we know from his visits to Ireland. In Dublin and Kilkenny a few years ago, the Italian virtuoso's sense of humour was very much to the fore in a programme that featured musical jokes and mad medleys.
Stefano Bollani graduated from the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Florence in 1993. Since then he has toured Europe and the US, recorded with trumpeter Enrico Rava, accordionist Richard Galliano and saxophonist Lee Konitz, and made solo CDs. His present bass-player and drummer are Danish, and fit in very well with his relaxed and amiable approach. Bodilsen contributes two tunes to the list, Orvieto and Edith. Four are Bollani's own compositions, the highlight being Il cervello del pavone. Others are by Caetano Veloso, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Francis Poulenc.
His impeccable piano technique is used in such an easy-going way that it's hardly noticed. What is evident is his imaginative treatment of tunes, the way he builds atmosphere, and above all his singing sense of melody.
The Bray Jazz Festival begins on Friday week, April 30, and this year the accent is on guitars. Wolfgang Muthspiel heads the bill at the Mermaid on the first night, with Larry Grenadier (bass) and Chris Cheek (tenor sax).
On Saturday May 1, in the same venue, John Etheridge (guitar) will pay tribute to the great Django Reinhardt in the centenary year of his birth.
Helping Etheridge to revive the sound of the Hot Club de France will be Chris Garrick (violin), Dave Kelbie (guitar) and Peter Townsend (bass).
The Mermaid on Sunday, May 2, has Wayne Krantz (guitar), Gary Novak (drums) and Tim Lefebvre (bass) in a mix of jazz, rock, funk and whatever you're having yourself.