Ben DiTosti

Solo Jazz Piano, Vol. 1

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It's regrettable that Ben Di Tosti has only recorded sporadically over the years, for he's an expressive acoustic pianist who is swinging yet consistently lyrical and melodic. In fact, it's safe to say that bop piano doesn't get much more melody-minded than Solo Jazz Piano, Vol. 1, which finds an unaccompanied Di Tosti putting his spin on Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" and Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" as well as pop standards such as "Days of Wine and Roses," "Secret Love," and "Easy Living." While a lot of bop pianists base their improvisations on chord changes, Di Tosti's improvisations are consistently mindful of a song's melody -- and in that sense, he reminds you of such pre-bop pianists as Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, and Nat "King" Cole. But Di Tosti isn't a swing player; he's essentially a bebopper, and one of his influences is Bill Evans. It's just that Di Tosti is a lot more melody-minded than a bop or cool pianist would ordinarily be. If any criticism could be made about this CD, it's the fact that Di Tosti tends to play it safe in his choice of material and pick mostly standards that jazz artists have recorded time and time again. Some of the CD's most interesting moments come when he turns his attention to "Con Te Partiro" and Beethoven's "Für Elise," two pieces that jazz artists haven't done over the years. All things considered, this is a rewarding and impressive CD from a jazz veteran who deserves to have a much larger catalog.

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