This rare solo gig by the Herbie Nichols of Italy is a delight for jazz listeners from all over the globe. Guido Manusardi's chops lie deep in the Nichols well: Long, fluid blues-bent lines stride across the center of the keyboard with funky right-handed solos and in-the-pocket left-wristed basslines calling out the insistent melodies. Manusardi does a romping version of "There Is No Greater Love" and an off-the-cuff reading of "Cheek to Cheek," while turning in stunningly deft harmonic inversions on tunes such as "April in Paris," "In a Sentimental Mood," and "Love for Sale." But the biggest treats in this set -- recorded between 1990 and 1992 -- are Manusardi originals like "Velvet Sunset" and "The Ruins of Piuro." The large augmented major chords Manusardi employs in stating his melodies have his solos contained within them, both harmonically and chromatically. His intervals are the places where arpeggios are touched to free them from the keys and then enter the ether as song. "The Ruins of Piuro" is an expressionistic portrait of grief; there are large open chords that create a foreground for the right hand to decorate only with poignant eighths and 16ths in an otherwise dirge-like tempo. The color palette for such a restricted frame, however, is rich, lush, and sad. Like Nichols, Manusardi carries his entire book with him on every tune, wrapping harmonies around other harmonies and extracting alternate and sub-melodies from them effortlessly, with a grand style and slightly funky phrasing. All of that and more are available here for the listener who wants to be astonished by Manusardi's virtuosity on the piano and his taste as both a soloist and composer. Bravo.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek