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Nicki Parrott & Rossano Sportiello : People Will Say We’re in Love

Milanese pianist Rossano Sportiello is a young player with a fine vintage sensibility. Echoes of Erroll Garner and Paul Smith filled last year’s Heart and Soul and are equally evident here as Sportiello teams with Australian Nicki Parrott, a bassist who shares his young-in-years but steeped-in-tradition bent. Elliott Simon’s suggestion, put forth in his liner notes, that theirs can be compared to the union of Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown hints of overstatement, but only mildly. Indeed, as instrumental pairings go, the teaming of Sportiello and Parrott serves as a prime example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Mixing American standards with a couple of originals (Sportiello’s jaunty “Blues for Basie,” his chamois-soft “Why Did You Tell Me ‘I Love You’?” and the duo’s misty, contemplative “Lost Love Blues”) and even a bit of Chopin, their interplay is consistently bright, intelligent and engaging, particularly on a rendering of Johnny Hodges’ “You Blew Out the Flame in My Heart” that suggests a cozy stroll through an autumn wood. Immensely less endearing are Parrott’s blandly pleasant, tepidly torchy vocals. Fortunately, she sings on only seven of the 16 tracks (and, even more fortunately, Sportiello raises his heavily accented, gravel-pit voice on only one, the disc-closing duet “People Will Say We’re in Love”).

Originally Published