Stefano Battaglia


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Pianist Stefano Battaglia is one of the most prolific musicians in Italy. He has played on dozens of dates either in the classical or jazz field, but nowhere does one get a true sense of his contribution as on his solo recordings in the jazz idiom. Here, like his influences Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans before him, Battaglia focuses intently on the spaces between melody and harmony, and how mode and interval influence them both in composition. Also, unlike his predecessors who seem to have come by their voices naturally, Battaglia is forever honing that sound that he has come to believe is singular to him. This date with longtime collaborator bassist Paolino Dalla Porta and drummer Manhu Roche is one of trio exploration into the realms of subtle, though precise, melodic invention, and how it turns the modal nature of jazz into something more open, more elongated, and even free, because its concerns are with nuance rather than with the norms of composition. On the title track, a shimmering eighth note melody emerges from the ether and is transformed into an elegant, almost classically integrated, theme that is pushed to its limit by the rhythm section. On "The Real Meaning of the Blues," Battaglia's arpeggio study is intervallically challenged by Dalla Porta's own pizzicato machinations that serve to unify to very separate ideas. Also, on "Toy Roads," Cuban jazz figures are undercut with late bop chromatics in a whirlwind of syncopated rhythm and angular scalar studies without ever sacrificing the melody. This is one of Battaglia's earlier recordings, but it is also one of his very finest.

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