NPR Music | CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY
When he sits down to do an interview, jazz pianist Stefano Bollani wants you to know who he is and what he's about.
"Hello, hello!" he exclaims. "My name is Stefano Bollani. I'm a human being."
Though he does look a bit like the Cheshire Cat, with a big grin, a beard and a bushy ponytail a la Frank Zappa (one of his big influences), Bollani is also a natural-born entertainer. As a kid, he idolized old-school showmen like Frank Sinatra, as well as Italian pop star Renato Carosone.
"He was a piano player, a singer, a funny guy, but also graduated in classical music," Bollani says. "So he was kind of a complete musician. And that's what I wanted to be."