Mike Melillo

Moonlight on the Gange

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Mike Melillo is a formidable post-bop pianist, with a résumé that includes stints with Sonny Rollins and Phil Woods, though his name recognition in his native land is not as strong as it should be since he relocated to Italy. Moonlight on the Gange is one of a series of outstanding releases that he has recorded for Italian labels, though this session was taped in the U.S. with veterans Michael Moore on bass (known for his work with Gene Bertoncini and as a regular in the Dave Brubeck Quartet) and drummer Ben Riley (whose extensive résumé is highlighted by his work with Thelonious Monk). The influence of the late Bill Evans is readily apparent in Melillo's playing in both takes of "Moonlight on the Gange," which feature extensive introductory solos by Moore. The group devours a tumbling take of Ornette Coleman's dissonant "Humpty Dumpty," while the sole standard, Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You," is a piano solo, with Melillo giving it a more bittersweet air than usual, though one can hear the ghost of Bud Powell in spots. The pianist's originals also merit strong praise, especially the tense "Ballad One." Highly recommended.

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