The recorded meetings of pianist Enrico Pieranunzi with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron are a cause for celebration, since they play together only for short tours and not on a regular basis. Ballads was taped shortly after a completed tour, focusing on low-key, lyrical arrangements. The selections include popular songs from both America and Europe, plus several originals. Pieranunzi draws from standards from the Great American Songbook and works by European songwriters, plus his own compositions and one by Baron. Highlights include the pianist's lush "The Heart of a Child" and the dramatic setting of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing." The influence of Bill Evans on the leader is obvious, though Pieranunzi is very much his own man at the piano. The subdued nature of these performances make them suitable for late-night listening and romance.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden