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Claudio Filippini Trio: Breathing In Unison

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It should no longer be news that there are so many world-class Italian piano players. But in the United States, we keep getting startled when yet another hits the radar, usually when they move from record labels distributed only in Europe to companies like ECM or CAM Jazz. To a list that includes Stefano Bollani, Enrico Pieranunzi, Danilo Rea, Stefano Battaglia and Giovanni Guidi, add another name: Claudio Filippini.

Compared to his countrymen above, he is a less clearly differentiated voice and a more cautious improviser. But his virtues are seductive. They include poise, taste, a flowing elegance that sounds innate and an ability to just touch a melody and bathe it in new golden light. Sometimes those melodies are his own, like “South Michigan Avenue,” a slow, dramatic hovering. Often they are old standards or songs on the margins of pop culture, like Rufus Wainwright’s “Poses.” With minimal improvisation, Filippini turns Wainwright’s introverted, twisted little tune into something large and lush. “As Time Goes By” seems an improbable choice. But Filippini parts with it so reluctantly, a phrase at a time, that each hesitation is taut with emotional suspense. The resolutions arrive like revelations.

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