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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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ROSSANO SPORTIELLO

Heart and Soul

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19321

 

 

 
1. Gershwin Medley: How Long Has This Been Going On? / I Got Rhythm
2. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
3. Some Other Spring
4. If Dreams Come True
5. Tommy's Ballad
6. Love Lies
7. I'll See You In My Dreams
8. Laura
9. Who's Sorry Now?
10. Heart and Soul
11. If I Should Lose You
12. You
13. You've Changed
14. Lover Medley: Lover Come Back To Me / Lover
15. More Than You Know
16. The Pink and Grey Girl
17. Tea For Two
Rossano Sportiello - Piano

Rossano Sportiello was a new name to me when I first heard him at this year’s Blackpool Jazz Party but I was soon won over – not only by his playing but also his modesty. Whenever Dick Hyman was performing at the piano, there was Rossano – sitting behind him, listening appreciatively, eager to learn from the master. When I heard Rossano again at JazzAscona, my impressions were confirmed: he is a pianist you’ll be hearing a lot more from in the coming years.

Born in 1974 at the Italian village of Vigevano near Milan, Sportiello studied at Milan Music Academy and then joined the Milano Jazz Gang. He has played with the likes of Dan Barrett, Gerry Mulligan and Eddie Daniels, and first appeared in the USA at the March of Jazz in 2003.

Like the man himself, Rossano’s playing is gentle and good-humoured, although he can still break into impassioned stride piano to pep up a number. On this solo CD, recorded at the Old Church in Boswil, Switzerland, Sportiello caresses jazz standards with respect for their melodic richness while also using them as the basis for thoughtful improvisation. Some of his choices are rarely-heard tunes like Love Lies and You, which deserve greater exposure. Only one tune – The Pink and Grey Girl – is a Sportiello original, and it encapsulates Rossano’s strengths which draw on the styles of such players as Ralph Sutton, Teddy Wilson and Barry Harris (although his delicacy reminds me most of Ellis Larkins).

He has complete command of the piano and can display superb dexterity when necessary but he never shows off. You might sum him up as a good-humoured, well-mannered pianist who can nevertheless let rip when the occasion demands it. I can echo the words of his mentor, Barry Harris, who said of Rossano: "He makes me smile when he plays".


Tony Augarde

 



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