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June 2006

Enrico Pieranunzi
Live in Paris
Challenge Records

Enrico Pieranunzi is a major figure of Italian jazz who has only recently received significant attention in the United States, mostly because of five superior recordings on the CamJazz label released since 2003. Three of the five deal with music composed for films (Fellini Jazz and the two volumes of Play Morricone) and establish Pieranunzi’s world-class credentials as arranger, leader and conceptualist. The double CD Live in Paris proves that Pieranunzi is also one of the most creative and complete pianists now playing jazz anywhere on the planet.

Disc one opens with over 30 minutes of uninterrupted invention, spread over four pieces. The original “Ouverthree” becomes “Body and Soul” and then “I Hear a Rhapsody,” at the end of which a little repetitive figure morphs into “Footprints” and whirls away. Pieranunzi comes up for air to give the audience a break. Then his trio is immediately swept up again in a 12-minute extravagance of cumulative catharsis, “I Fall in Love Too Easily.”

On disc two, “Someday My Prince Will Come” starts as a dream sequence, without the one-note vamp intro that Paul Chambers and Miles Davis invented 45 years ago and most players still use. It turns into a quick-on-quick “What Is This Thing Called Love?” Pieranunzi takes wild but musical liberties with songs, sometimes in endlessly extended strands of notes that derive from the melody, sometimes in hammering intrusions that cancel all melodies. “Jitterbug Waltz” is an epic affirmation, a succession of staircases, softly lit, sweeping up and down.

Bassist and producer Hein Van de Geyn and drummer André “Dédé” Ceccarelli are both fast and strong enough to stay with Pieranunzi. The recorded sound provides clarity and balance on all three instruments and also captures the ambient air of one of Europe’s great jazz venues, Le Duc des Lombards.

Originally published in June 2006
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