Jazz CD Reviews

The Rossano Sportiello Trio: Lucky To Be Me – Arbors Piano Series, Vol. 22 – Arbors

A solid and impressive piano trio session.

Published on April 25, 2011

The Rossano Sportiello Trio: Lucky To Be Me – Arbors Piano Series, Vol. 22 – Arbors

The Rossano Sportiello Trio: Lucky To Be Me – Arbors Piano Series, Vol. 22 – Arbors ARCD 19408 (Distr. By Allegro) 63:42 ****:

(Rossano Sportiello – piano; Frank Tate – bass; Dennis Mackrel – drums)

Every good boy deserves favour (EGBDF). This is the mnemonic that all piano teachers drum into their students to remember the notes on the lines of the treble clef. Clearly Rossano Sportiello learned this lesson well, and he certainly knows how to construct on this differentiation, using all the keys to articulate a solid and impressive trio session.

Originally from Italy, but currently a resident of New York City, Sportiello enriches this collection of jazz tunes, pop standards and original compositions with determination and capability. Opening with an infrequently played Cootie Williams’ original “I Don’t Know”, Sportiello leads the trio with style, and both Tate and Mackrel offer solos demonstrating why they were chosen for this date. Although there is a bit of both Dave McKenna and Barry Harris in Rossano’s playing, he has evolved an individual approach that is unique. For example, listen to the Bill Evans composition “Show-type Tune” and catch Sportiello’s charming interpretation of this piece. For his own composition “Bluesy Basie”, he gets into the distinctive Basie touch and one can almost hear the swing master at work.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Sportiello brings his untarnished ideas to a couple of pop tunes, namely, “Lucky To Be Me” and “When I Grow Too Old To Dream”. In doing so, he makes a statement, that regardless of the origins of the song, he can capture the music and create jazz versions that are neither stale nor passé. The tasteful Tommy Flanagan wrote a salient bop ditty called “Beat’s Up” and Rosanno shows that he is not immune to its charms and gives a chic reading to the tune. The final cut is a mere bagatelle: “Prelude 14 in F Sharp minor, Vol. 2, from The Well-Tempered Clavier” by Bach, that shows off his classical music background.

Rossano Sportiello has a comprehensive appreciation of the various jazz customs and styles. Consequently he is able to take these learnings and convert them into his own meaningful interpretations of the music.

I Don’t Know; Lady Luck; Lament; Bluesy Basie; Show-up Tune; Lucky To Be Me; When I Grow Too Old To Dream; Beat’s Up; Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye; Should I?; Just As Though You Were Here; BACH: Prelude 14 in F Sharp minor, Vol. 2 (WTC).

— Pierre Giroux   

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