Enrico Pieranunzi Trio & Orchestra: Blues & Bach – The Music Of John Lewis

Italian pianist pays tribute to John Lewis, the fellow keysman with whom he shares a proclivity for jazzing the classics

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Enrico Pieranunzi’s new album is a tribute to the composer and MJQ leader. These two great pianists share a love of classical music and jazzing the classics. The title Bach And Blues indicates the two major influences on Lewis’s style, which have also strongly influenced Pieranunzi. It’s a superb and immensely enjoyable release.

All compositions bar one are by Lewis, and the standout performance is Lewis’s most famous composition, Django – a wonderful version that rivals Gil Evans’, though it’s less radical in conception. This is a tribute to guitarist Django Reinhardt, and apparently has been recorded over three hundred times. Pieranunzi produces a wonderfully strong solo on this complex composition.

The album begins with Lewis’s gentle waltz Skating In Central Park, from the film Odds Against Tomorrow (1959); the plangent and exciting Spanish Steps appeared on The Golden Striker (1960). There’s a gorgeous interpretation of Milano, first recorded by the MJQ in 1954. The one non-Lewis composition is Vernon Duke’s standard Autumn In New York, which the MJQ recorded in 1953; it’s given a beautiful arrangement here.

Michele Corcella conducts the Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana, and produced the tasteful arrangements – Corcella teaches jazz composition at Conservatorio Antonio Buzzolla di Adria. Blues & Bach is an excellent release.

Discography
Skating In Central Park; Spanish Steps; Vendome; Autumn In New York; Django; Concorde; Milano; Jasmine Tree (52.57)
Pieranunzi (p); Luca Bulgarielli (b); Mauro Beggio (d); Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana, Michele Corcella (cond, arr). Brescia, 16-17 September 2021.
Challenge Records CD73550