Armando Battiston

Revelations in Solitude

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This one may be a tough one for jazz fans to swallow, but if it is, it's their loss. Armando Battiston is a keyboard player par excellence whose roots and training are all in the jazz idiom. They are displayed here with his trio of Giovanni Maier on bass and U.T. Ghandi on drums with Nevio Zaninotto guesting on soprano saxophone on a couple of tracks. Battiston loves the upper register of his instrument and he embellishes and dances there to great effect, like a more florid Paul Bley or a less busy Fred Hersch. The opener, "Soweto's Lament," features a lullaby-like melody followed by a drooping chorus of shimmering chromatic elegance when the soprano enters for ballast. The long mournful tones act in counterpoint to Battiston's relaxed yet pronounced lyricism. Here the jazz form of the pianist is in full swing, and the quartet follows his lead into a maze-like series of changes through the middle before resuming with a near transcendent blues line at the end. But Battiston doesn't stop there, at the jazz margin. On "Lettera a Giovanin" and "Mosaico II," he employs sequencers and samplers as well as Malayan flute and a chromatic mouth organ as well. There is no single descriptive term for this music as it borrows from world traditions and careens across the jazz and rock landscapes and becomes even techno savvy. The haunting lyricism of Southern Italy is everywhere present, however, and that's what keeps Battiston's explorations in the bag of taste and grace. The other tunes, like "Dolphy's Echoes," "II Boscat," and the heartbreakingly beautiful "In Solitudine lo Racconto," are all firmly within the jazz vernacular and are estimable for their witty improvisational flair and tasteful execution. Revelations in Solitude is a wonderful example of the new Italian jazz.

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