Enrico Pieranunzi has proved himself to be one of the leading jazz pianists in Europe, primarily as a post-bop pianist who has recorded numerous CDs as a leader for various European and Japanese labels since his career took off during the mid-'90s. But this 2008 gig at Birdland in New York City reveals a different side, as it focuses on six Latin-flavored originals by Pieranunzi. He recruited a top-notch cast of supporting musicians, including trumpeter Diego Urcola; saxophonist Yosvany Terry; the young, in-demand drummer Antonio Sanchez; and veteran bassist John Patitucci. Pieranunzi's compositions blend the energy of Latin jazz with a singular infectious drive, particularly on his extended opener, "Danza 2," showcasing Urcola, Terry, and the composer in turn. The lovely Latin ballad "Rosa del Mare" is a subdued lyrical gem omitting the horns. Urcola nearly steals the show with his fiery solo in the lively "Danza Nueva," though Pieranunzi is no less impressive. Terry's emotional soprano sax is the centerpiece of the bittersweet ballad "Miradas." Enrico Pieranunzi's Latin Jazz Quintet will surely open the ears of his longtime fans, as those who were present at this enjoyable Birdland set can most certainly attest.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden