Ever found yourself dropping off while listening to some new, worthy but less-than-rivetting contemporary jazz release and felt guilty for losing your ability to remain in thrall to the music? Well, maybe the fault is not your shortened attention span or jaded nature; maybe there’s not much really invigorating, consistently creative and idea-filled contemporary jazz music around.
Want to try falling asleep during Italian pianist Stefano Bollani’s new album? I challenge you to try. There is just so much going on, not only from track to track but within each as well. Having established himself in that crucial Italian training ground, the Enrico Rava band, Bollani has gone on to idiosyncratic solo albums, a lovely Scandi-Italian trio, classical soloist affairs and even a Frank Zappa tribute disc. Sure, there have been some mis-hits along the way – a solo Fender Rhodes album was particularly patchy – but that’s the nature of the man. He’s a high-wire artist whose flamboyant imagination sometimes leaves him risking his footing.
Napoli Trip is a homage to Naples and in some ways brings lots of strands – solo piano, interpretations of Italian song, Norwegian electronics, collaborations with Brazilian bandolim-player Hamilton de Holanda, a new quartet with Manu Katché on percussion – into a brilliant whole. Just try tracks nine and ten, the former a solo piano reworking of O Sole Mio, the latter a grooving Quel Che Si Diventa ever-evolving for the new band, with soaring clarinet and characteristic Katché beat, Bollani at the centre directing it all. Caravan Petrol is a reminder of Bollani’s pianistic virtuosity, and the title track has definite circus elements – it could be the soundtrack for a Fellini film. In fact the whole album could be, with Frank Z standing in the background of Federico’s set.
The perfect cure for narcoleptics and cynical jazz reviewers everwhere.
Categories: CD review