Jazz music director Gary Vercelli examines fresh new releases by an Italian pianist, a Brazil-loving vocalist, an Argentine saxophonist, and an iconic jazz fusion group paired with a German big band.
Rossano Sportiello Medley: Pastel
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (Debussy)
Lush Life (Strayhorn)
Italian pianist Rossano Sportiello graduated with a degree in classical piano in 1996. He was also mentored by legendary jazz pianist Barry Harris, and thus is fluent in both genres.
Like George Shearing and Hank Jones, Rossano makes every note count with an unhurried approach that takes the frenetics out of jazz.
Dennis Mackral wrote, “Rossano’s musical sensibilities are as finely tuned as a Rolls Royce and yet as sensitive as the petal of a flower. His ability to merge Debussy with Strayhorn, creating a solid bridge between the two is something that most pianists rarely achieve.”
Sandy Cressman "Let Love Flourish Entre Amigos"
Inspired by the great Brazilian composers, Sandy Cressman has blossomed as a composer and lyricist of original material that is infused with authentic Brazilian feel and passion. Sandy says of this song, “The lyrics encourage taking action to build a better world, from a place of love.” The horn arrangement on this tune is done by Sandy’s daughter, Natalie. Both Natalie and Sandy’s husband, Jeff Cressman, play trombone on this song.
Oscar Feldman "Viva Belgrano Gol"
"With his debut Zoho CD Gol ( =goal), Argentine-born and Manhattan-based saxophonist Oscar Feldman name his uncompromising jazz album in commemoration of a soccer victory. This is not as strange as it may appear, for sports and the creative arts share an ability to unite diverse people in a sense of community. The game cheers heard on 'Viva Belgrano' echo those we encounter when the best musicians such as Oscar Feldman touch us with their passion, imagination and soul."
Steps Ahead Pools Steppin’ Out
Steps Ahead is a popular jazz fusion quintet formed in 1979 by vibraphonist/composer Mike Mainieri. The band has served as an institution of higher learning for top-notch musicians, including Don Grolnick, Peter Erskine, Michael Brecker and Eliane Elias. Mainieri, 79, has remained the constant in an ever-changing lineup of Steps Ahead all-stars.
This album features Steps combining talent with Germany’s WDR Big Band. The arrangements of Michael Abene seamlessly merge the fluid improvisation of the quintet with the high-energy horn section of the big band. There are great solos from Steps Ahead alumni Bill Evans (saxophone), Chuck Loeb (guitar), and Steve Smith (drums).