Stefano Bollani – Carioca Live, Blu-ray (2009/2014)

Stefano Bollani – Carioca Live, Blu-ray (2009/2014)

Performers: Stefano Bollani, piano & leader/Maro Pereira, guitar/Jorge Helder, doublebass/Jurim Moreiera, drums/ Armando Marcal, percussion/ Zé Nogueria, soprano sax/Mirko Guerrini, tenor sax/ Nico Gori, clarinet
Program: Luz negra, Segura Ele, Outra coisa, Galatea, Il Domatore di Pulci, Caprichos do Destino, Ma Baiza do Sapateiro, Trem Das Onze, Tico Tico No Fuba, Samba e Amor, Nana, Ao Romper dea Aurora/choro Sim, Apanhei-Te Cavaquinho, A Vox do Morro
Studio: Ermitage Cinema Blu-ray FAB 652 [Distr. by Albany]
Video: 16:9 1080i HD color
Audio: Italian DTS-HD MA 5.1, DolbyTrue HD 5.1, PCM stereo
Subtitles: NONE
All regions
Extras: Interviews/documentary (all in Italian without subtitles)
Length: 106 min.
Rating: *****

This is an astounding concert of Brazilian jazz, featuring a band with a few Brazilians but mainly Italian performers led by the phenomenal classical/jazz/world music pianist Stefano Bollani. We’re reviewed several of his albums already: An exciting classical performance of the two Gershwin Concertos with symphony orchestra, a wonderful piano solo album on ECM, and an album of piano duets with Chick Corea (who is also into Latin jazz) among them. His influences come from from all sorts of classical and jazz, tango, Brazilian music, ragtime, you name it.

There is some frustration connected with this Blu-ray, in that there are absolutely no English translations of anything, no notes on the selections, nothing on the couple of songs Bollani sings in Portuguese, and no subtitles for his comments to the audience at the Villa Arconati Festival (wherever that is in Italy), and nothing for the interview/documentary extra—which is all in Italian. (Even the Amazon review summary is all in Italian!)  There is also no Home screen with the ability to select the 14 different chapter/tracks; you must use the advance button. However, the amazing music played by Bollani on solo piano and with the various members of his band as well as the whole group are truly some of the best jazz of any sort I’ve heard in many months.

Some of the tracks seem to have a strong Brazilian choro influence, and I do recognize Brazilian composers’ names such as Chico Buarque, Nazareth and Cavaquinho. A few of the tunes sound somewhat familiar, but the only one I was totally familiar with was Tico Tico (but what a version of it!).  Some of the unusual percussion sounds from Armando Marcal are something to hear, and fit right into the music. The band’s front line of tenor sax, soprano sax and clarinet wails away at some breakneck tempi on some of the tunes, and are super exciting. Some of the solos on soprano sax or clarinet especially seem so complex and rapid that you think they just can’t be topped, but then there is another chorus that is even more complex and speedy. You’ll have a completely different image of the word Carioca after hearing this concert! Believe me, it’s well worth the $34 Amazon wants for it, in spite of the subtitles problem.

The images are beautifully shot and are very bright and of high resolution. No dark and murky stage shots here, as on some concert Blu-ray discs. The soundtrack is also excellent in taking the viewer right into the concert. I stuck with the highest-quality PCM stereo mix, but next viewing I’ll try the DTS surround option.

—John Henry

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