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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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STEFANO BOLLANI

L'Orchestra del Titanic

Via Veneto Jazz VVJ 021

 

 

1. La sagra di Paolòpoli

2. Elena e il suo violino

3. Prima o poi io e te faremo l'amore

4. Piove

5. I viaggi di Gulliver

6. Anema e core

7. 17 ore

8. Il barbone di Siviglia

9. Comunicazioni interrotte

10. Natale in casa Cappelli

11. L'orchestra del Titanic

Stefano Bollani – Piano

Lello Pareti – Bass

Walter Paoli - Drums, percussion

Riccardo Onori – Guitar

Antonello Salis - Accordion

 

I only encountered Italian pianist Stefano Bollani in 2008, when I was deeply impressed by an album of his duets with Enrico Rava. That was apparently some years after this album was recorded which, if my slender grasp of Italian is correct, was released in 1999. I’m not sure why it has been made available again now, but I’m very glad it has.

I suspect the album was inspired by the 1997 film Titanic. Bollani’s quintet doesn’t play the music that was supposedly played by the band on the Titanic as it sank but Stefano recreates the atmosphere of a comfortable lounge where guests are entertained by a small orchestra. The music is not only entertaining but varied and richly melodic. Stefano wrote most of the pieces himself, and they reveal him as a very talented composer.

The very first track has a jaunty melody which Bollani’s piano makes the most of. Antonello Salis’s accordion enriches the mix in the poignant Elena e il suo violin. Prima o poi io e te faremo l'amore is another gentle ballad where the accordion again makes a tuneful contribution. Antonello tends to hum along with his accordion, rather like Slam Stewart doing the same with the double bass. This tendency is particularly marked in Lello Pareti’s Natale in casa Cappelli.

Two of the non-originals on the album reflect Stefano Bollani’s interest in Italian folk and popular song. Domenico Modugno’s Piove (“It’s raining”) was a Eurovision entry in 1959 and Stefano performs it here as a piano solo. Anema e core (“Heart and soul”) is a familiar Neapolitan song which was adapted into English with several different titles.

I viaggi di Gulliver is a dynamic mix which hints at the avant-garde with rock guitar and occasionally discordant piano and accordion. 17 ore includes a wondrously lyrical piano solo from Bollani. Il barbone di Siviglia has another sparkling piano solo and the group stokes up an exciting rhythm with vigorous drumming by Walter Paoli.

Comunicazioni interrotte is a pensive duet for piano and guitar. The album ends with the title-track, whose scratchy sound resembles an old 78-rpm disc, with ethereal guitar and honky-tonk piano playing over an increasingly disjointed beat. Perhaps it is a tribute to that brave band of musicians who continued playing while the Titanic sank.

Stefano Bollani seems to be a limitless source of fascinating music: long may he continue!

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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