The Italian CamJazz label has released only a few titles in the United States since 2004, but they have all made an impact. At the center of the CamJazz phenomenon has been pianist/composer/ arranger Enrico Pieranunzi.
Pieranunzi has recorded three albums for CamJazz dedicated to the scores of two great Italian film composers. Fellini Jazz contained the music of Nino Rota, who scored the films of director Federico Fellini. Play Morricone 2 interpreted the music of Ennio Morricone and for some reason came out first in the U.S. And now there is Play Morricone. The Morricone albums are trio sessions with Marc Johnson and Joey Baron.
Pieranunzi is a major discovery as both a pianist and arranger, and the scores of Rota and Morricone are a vast, fertile, virgin territory for jazz improvisers. Morricone is best known in popular culture for his twangy soundtracks to Sergio Leone's "spaghetti westerns." But his voluminous body of work (over 400 film scores) contains music of melodic richness and fresh, evocative sonorities and hovering atmospheres. Pieranunzi actually played on some of the original soundtracks, and his lush, dramatic lyricism here is an inspired jazz response to Morricone's cinematic soundscapes. Johnson, in the extravagant romanticism of his bass solos, sounds like he could be a closet Italian.