Sentimentale is accordionist Richard Galliano's debut as a leader for Resonance Records. This date marks his return to jazz after a three-album sojourn with Deutsche Grammophon recording the music of Bach, Piazzolla, and Vivaldi. His multi-national quintet here includes Israeli-born pianist and arranger Tamir Hendelman, American guitarist Anthony Wilson, Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, and Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli. The program is as diverse as the personnel. Things kick off on the spirited side with a galloping reading of Chick Corea's "Armando's Rumba," with Wilson and Galliano twinning the head as Hendelman lays down shiny chords and spirited montunos with a killer bass solo from Del Puerto before the accordionist launches into a combination of tango and jazz. Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" opens with a near pastoral reverie before the melody is introduced by Galliano and Wilson. Hendelman's illustrative fills and comps are gorgeous without being flowery. The funky groove in Horace Silver's "The Jody Grind" is derived from Dee Dee Bridgewater's vocal version, despite Hendelman's finger popping pianism. Galliano crosses harmonic lines between both Zottarelli's drum break, spiky blues from Wilson, and soul-jazz swagger from Del Puerto. On John Coltrane's "Naima," Wilson adopts a near sitar-like sound while Galliano's crystalline, glass bead sound enters into the melody and opens it onto the accordion's higher register, offering a bright harmonic flourish in his solo. Brazilian music makes its appearance on Sentimentale as well. This take on Ivan Lins' evergreen "The Island" is equally based on the composer's earliest, Bahia-informed version rather than his post-bossa take from later years as well as singer Patti Austin's. Likewise "Verbos Do Amor," by João Donato and Abel Silva, finds Galliano's quintet engaging in inspired, multi-textured samba. There are two familiar originals here as well: "Ballade Pour Marion" is magical in this bal musette-cum-lyrical jazz setting as Hendelman's voicings twin with the accordionists', offering different timbral statements and underscoring its lush colors. Closer "Lili" is trimmed to a languid, tender duet between the accordionist and Wilson -- both of whom display their enormous gifts for lyricism (which is why they are oft-chosen accompanists for singers). Sentimentale is not only classy in its choice of material, it's canny and expert in its arrangement, interplay, and articulation. Like the best of Galliano's recordings, it displays not only his iconic signature on the accordion, but the commanding presence, communicative inquisitiveness, and elegant creativity of his spirit.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek