Enrico Pieranunzi & Thomas Fonnesbaek: The Real You – A Bill Evans Tribute

Former Tyner and Corea disciple embraces the melodicism he says he discovered through working with Chet Baker


Thomas Fonnesbaek is a leading Danish bassist, and member of the Thomas Clausen Trio. He recorded a live duo album with Enrico Pieranunzi, released as Blue Waltz on Stunt in 2017. This superb follow-up confirms that the great Italian pianist has found his ideal bassist for duo performances.

There are 13 tracks, featuring five Pieranunzi compositions and three by Fonnesbaek; they collaborated on two. There are also versions of two compositions by Evans – Only Child and Interplay – plus Sno’ Peas by Phil Markowitz, a composition featured on Evans’ 1979 album Affinity.

Pieranunzi wasn’t always an Evans aficionado. He was drawn to the bop-boppers, McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea before working with Chet Baker in the late 1970s. Then he saw the light, commenting that “Chet planted a melodic seed that slowly began to grow into a kind of revelation”. On this duo album, he continues, he pays tribute to Bill Evans, “still . . . the most influential pianist in modern jazz, and who has played a key role in my musical development”.

Like Evans, Pieranunzi’s playing yields a kind of perfection within an aesthetics of imperfection. It is truly spontaneous – unlike the work of, say, Oscar Peterson – yet has a kind of classical poise and assurance. Evans made few recordings in duo with a bassist – the most notable being Intuition (1975) with Eddie Gomez – and until now, it hasn’t been Pieranunzi’s favoured format. Evans worked better in a trio than solo, but I’ve tended to prefer Pieranunzi’s solo work. However, this partnership with Fonnesbaek offers some of the best playing of his stellar career.

Highlights of a wonderful album include Evans’s rarely performed minor blues Interplay, from the 1963 album of the same name, with Freddie Hubbard. A superb release. 

Hindsight; Only Child; The Real You; Passing Shadows; Our Foolish Hearts; Sno’ Peas; Il Giardino Di Anne; I Will Look After You; Dreams And The Morning; Interplay; More Stars; People Change; Bill And Bach (61.37)
Pieranunzi (p); Fonnesbaek (b). København, Denmark, July 2020.
Stunt Records STUCD 20132