CD Review: ‘Pastel,’ Rossano Sportiello

Rossano Sportiello, Pastel
Solo piano
Arbors Records

Those familiar with my previous reviews of pianist Rossano Sportiello’s CDs already know that I’m among the converted. He’s a classically trained Italian pianist who transitioned to jazz. And, he’s a master of both styles and his classical skills frequently come to the fore along with some great stride piano. He is now an American citizen, married and lives in New York when not touring. We were lucky to have him for a Pensacola JazzFest a couple of years ago.

The current solo piano is no exception. There is more than an hour of delightful music here. There are a couple of classical/jazz “marriages” when he plays Grieg’s Arietta and it melds with Jimmy Van Heusen’s Like Someone in Love. Another is a medley of Debussy’s Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum with Strayhorn’s Lush Life. There are some lesser known tunes such as Red Callender’s Pastel, hence the name of this CD; and, Errol Garner’s That’s My Kick. And, there are a couple of Sportiello originals.

Sportiello has a number of tunes on YouTube. One of my favorites is a CD made in Korea with drummer Chuck Redd and a Korean bassist. Below is embedded a video of his solo performance at an Arbors Jazz Party. The end piece is Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude”—a complex piece I’ve worked on for many years but never got to performance level. He plays it straight and then puts in a stride bass. If you look carefully, I’m the baldheaded guy who stands to clap at the finale. The Chopin in Jazz CD is still available; ships from Korea.

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