Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson, Joey Baron

Ballads

Cam Jazz CAMJ 7785-2

8024709778529 - Ballads - CD

Artists :
Enrico Pieranunzi ( Piano )
Joey Baron ( Drums )
Marc Johnson ( Bass )
Release date
Apr 21, 2006
Duration
0:61:02
Barcode
8024709778529

A collection of ballads performed by a trio that no longer needs introduction... The trio of our dreams... Over sixty minutes of pure musical pleasure; honey for your ears. BALLADS, recorded by Enrico Pieranunzi with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron, or rather his "American trio", or better: "the trio of my heart" as the Roman pianist once put it, is their fourth album for CAM Jazz. The musical adventure of this admirable trio has become, since the beginning, a symbol of the way to make music that unites formal elegance with expressive depth.
BALLADS confirms the wonders that Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson and Joey Baron are able to bring to life when playing together, but it also adds something new: the thematic homogeneity which characterizes this new CD fully highlights the more intimate and colloquial side of the trio, and once again inevitably captures the attention of the listener for the great sense of interplay that gives it life. Throughout the album one can admire the solidity and elasticity of the trio, surely among the best out there today on the international scene.

The Japanese release includes a bonus track. (only available in Japan).



Recorded in Rome on 17, 18 June 2004 at Sonic Recording Studio
Recording engineer Goffredo Gibellini
Mixed in Ludwigsburg on 9 December 2004 at Bauer Studios
Mixing engineer Johannes Wohlleben

Reviews

Ballads
The simplest stories often reveal the greatest depth. So, too, can the simplest songs yield richer meaning. Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi makes that abundantly clear with Ballads, an album so gentle it can almost pass by unnoticed. But pay attention and what may appear to be a collection of easy-on-the-ears songs prove to be much more. Pieranunzi has worked with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron before, most notably on Plays Morricone (Cam Jazz, 2005). In recent years Johnson and Baron have become regular rhythm section partners, working with artists like John Abercrombie and John Taylor. With Pieranunzi the lineage to the late pianist Bill Evans is clear, and given Johnson’s place in Evans' last trio before his death, it seems almost inevitable. This group, Pieranunzi's so-called American Trio, manifests the same sense of interplay, but on a level so subtle that it’s more felt than heard.

The programme is a mix of six Pieranunzi originals and one tune each by Baron, Billy Strayhorn, and three lesser-known composers. Luigi Tenco's poignant “Mi Sono Innamorator de Te” is the same song that Pieranunzi used to lead off his tribute to the late singer/poet/composer, Danza Di Una Ninfa (EGEA, 2005), and it sets the mood for the entire record. Pieranunzi avoids the radical reharmonizations that have become so commonplace these days; his deep reverence for the song makes it all the more significant when, during his solo, he subtly builds the intensity with a series of syncopated chords. Johnson and Baron remain in perfect synchronicity, responding to Pieranunzi while retaining the understated elegance that defines the tune.

Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” receives the respect it deserves, but its familiar theme is imbued with new meaning in an almost classical approach that relies on subtle nuance and delicately altered phrasing, rather than dramatic interpretation. Johnson and Baron seem forever poised on the verge of a slow swing during Pieranunzi’s lyrical solo, but they create a lovely tension by never quite getting there.

Throughout Ballads, Johnson’s robust yet delicately lyrical playing makes for some of the most memorable moments. And Baron, who emerged out of the downtown New York scene as a player who's comfortable in any setting, is especially attuned to Johnson’s dichotomous yet focused approach.

Like Johnson and Baron, Pieranunzi is capable of much more. But as with guitarist Jim Hall—with whom he collaborated on Duologues (Cam Jazz, 2005)—the song’s the thing. His own melodic writing dovetails perfectly with the sourced material. Ballads may not appeal to listeners who are looking for edginess or complexity in their music, but its unassuming stance and sheer honesty make it a meaningful listen for those who are prepared to look beyond its soft veneer.
08/08/06www.allaboutjazz.comJohn Kelman
Ballads
Pity bassist Marc Johnson. He was an integral part of Bill Evans' trio during the pianist's final year, an extraordinary valedictory culminating in two monumental sets, Last Waltz and Consecration (Fantasy, 1980/2002), only to be orphaned upon the pianist's sudden death at the completion of those remarkable recordings. There would be no one to take the place of Bill Evans, but approximately ten years later Johnson would record with a brilliant young pianist who was, at least to those in the know, the next best thing—Dave Catney (Jade Visions, Justice Records, 1991)—only to be re-orphaned when the emerging prodigy succumbed to AIDS. In recent years the bassist has been teaming up with Enrico Pieranunzi (Trasnoche, Egea Records, 2003; Play Morricone, CamJazz, 2002), a pianist who has less in common with Evans' late volcanic expressionism or Catney's effervescent impressionism than the sedate and studied classicism of the late John Lewis (Evolution I, Atlantic, 1999, and Evolution II, Atlantic, 2001).

Ballads is a collection that's impossible to dislike—have no fear of playing it in the presence of thoughtful or refined company, whatever their musical tastes. But don't be fooled. This is music that repays attentive listening, even though the minor modalities, suspended meters, and mono-toned, languorous mood will make it difficult to absorb the program in one continuous sitting. (Apart from the two standards, I would practically defy the most intent listener to identify the songs after a single hearing.)

Pieranunzi takes few chances on this date and makes no mistakes. His voicings are simple—few clusters but lots of sixths and triads; his voice-leading, on the other hand, is complex and masterful, making the most unexpected harmonic progressions seem inevitable. The other strength of the Italian pianist is the singing, aria-like quality of the tone he is able to extract from his percussive instrument.

Certainly Pieranunzi is conscious of the pedigree of his bassist, who is afforded as much if not more solo time than the pianist. The first two selections, “Mi sona inamorato di te” and “These Foolish Things,” have identical formats: on the first chorus, the piano plays the melody; on the second, the bass improvises to the bridge; and at the halfway point of the second chorus, the piano comes in and takes the tune out. One of the tunes (”Thought”) is simply a reverie played through once by Pieranunzi, whereas “Heart of a Child” and “Cabiria’s Dream” begin with a melody on the bass.

While Pieranunzi's exacting and deliberate approach encourages Johnson to cut way back on his technique (no hint of twang, exaggerated decay, double stops, toccata passages or other signs of overplaying), the bassist’s solos are nonetheless more spirited yet no less definitive and melodically interesting than the pianist’s. The two musicians complement one another beautifully in a true meeting of minds; Joey Baron’s drums mark cadences and provide punctilious intensifiers and delicately shaded colorings.

Finally, I suspect Johnson has to be delighted not only about the substance of his playing, but also the sound of his bass, which is captured with striking, perhaps unequaled verisimilitude on this recording.
28/08/06www.allaboutjazz.comSamuel Chell
BALLADS - Enrico Pieranunzi – Marc Johnson – Joey Baron
After this trio proved their mettle on their Morricone tribute, we've been looking forward to hearing more from them. This collection of ballads has no jarring change of paces that too many artists feel a need to toss in when setting and keeping a mood would be a better idea. Mixing band generated originals with smart covers and outside material, this is a classy ballad set that delivers on all promises and leaves you wanting more. A winner throughout.
21/09/06Midwest Record RecapChris Spector
BALLADS - Enrico Pieranunzi – Marc Johnson – Joey Baron
The simplest stories often reveal the greatest depth. So, too, can the simplest songs yield richer meaning. Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi makes that abundantly clear with Ballads, an album so gentle it can almost pass by unnoticed. But pay attention and what may appear to be a collection of easy-on-the-ears songs prove to be much more. Pieranunzi has worked with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron before, most notably on Plays Morricone (Cam Jazz, 2005). In recent years Johnson and Baron have become regular rhythm section partners, working with artists like John Abercrombie and John Taylor. With Pieranunzi the lineage to the late pianist Bill Evans is clear, and given Johnson’s place in Evans' last trio before his death, it seems almost inevitable. This group, Pieranunzi's so-called American Trio, manifests the same sense of interplay, but on a level so subtle that it’s more felt than heard.
The programme is a mix of six Pieranunzi originals and one tune each by Baron, Billy Strayhorn, and three lesser-known composers. Luigi Tenco's poignant “Mi Sono Innamorator di Te” is the same song that Pieranunzi used to lead off his tribute to the late singer/poet/composer, Danza Di Una Ninfa (EGEA, 2005), and it sets the mood for the entire record. Pieranunzi avoids the radical reharmonizations that have become so commonplace these days; his deep reverence for the song makes it all the more significant when, during his solo, he subtly builds the intensity with a series of syncopated chords. Johnson and Baron remain in perfect synchronicity, responding to Pieranunzi while retaining the understated elegance that defines the tune.
Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” receives the respect it deserves, but its familiar theme is imbued with new meaning in an almost classical approach that relies on subtle nuance and delicately altered phrasing, rather than dramatic interpretation. Johnson and Baron seem forever poised on the verge of a slow swing during Pieranunzi’s lyrical solo, but they create a lovely tension by never quite getting there.
Throughout Ballads, Johnson’s robust yet delicately lyrical playing makes for some of the most memorable moments. And Baron, who emerged out of the downtown New York scene as a player who's comfortable in any setting, is especially attuned to Johnson’s dichotomous yet focused approach.
Like Johnson and Baron, Pieranunzi is capable of much more. But as with guitarist Jim Hall—with whom he collaborated on Duologues (Cam Jazz, 2005)—the song’s the thing. His own melodic writing dovetails perfectly with the sourced material. Ballads may not appeal to listeners who are looking for edginess or complexity in their music, but its unassuming stance and sheer honesty make it a meaningful listen for those who are prepared to look beyond its soft veneer.
08/08/06Midwest Record RecapJohn Kelman
fringe beat - Musical Depths
FRINGE PRODUCT: Speaking of profound traditions in the musical universe, let us now praise the ballad-playing of great jazz pianists. There is something uniquely moving about the quality of introspection from a well-played ballad on piano. For proof of this theory, proceed directly to Enrico Pieranunzi’s new album, Ballads (CamJazz), recorded with his longtime allies Marc Johnson on bass and Joey Baron on drums.
Pieranunzi, a great Italian musician, is a poetic musical force and a name well-known to any jazz piano fan, but not nearly as well known as it should be on the general scene. He projects sensitivity, poise, and a sense of exploration in his playing, as well as his writing, which begs to be called “Euro-jazz” for its incorporation of classical elements and harmonies beyond the American ken. On the coolly meditative Ballads, Pieranunzi includes two standards — “These Foolish Things” and Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” (one of the greatest of jazz ballads) — and a stylistically suited piece by Baron, whose own compositional voice is a lovesome and underrated thing.
The lovely, mood-lit album closes with the pianist’s “Cabiria’s Dream,” a wistful little tune laid out impressionistically over the trio’s unstretched canvas of a structure. Meditations are made of this. (Got e? fringebeat@aol.com.)
29/08/06The Santa Barbara IndependentJoseph Woodard
PIERANUNZI, JONSON, BARON Ballads
Se vi piace il jazz notturno, intimo, non perdetelo. Le ballads sono un territorio strabattuto (anche a sproposito), ma qui non c’è nulla di scontato né di banale, sia nell’esecuzione che nella scelta, che mescola classici a brani di Pieranunzi.
21/09/06Magazine Corriere della SeraLorenzo Viganò
BALLADS
Ein ting er å gje ut ei ballade-plate, ein annan er å kalle henne det, «Ballads». Det er ein tittel som forpliktar, med Coltranes klassikar svevande over vatna. Keith Jarrett spela sine vakraste balladar på «Standards»-platene. Den italienske pianisten Enrico Pieranunzi er mann for sine «Ballads» (CamJazz/Musikklosen), med Marc Johnson (bass) og Joey Baron (trommer).
17/09/06www.dagsavisen.noRedaksjonen
PIERANUNZI/JOHNSON/BARON Ballads
D’accordo: dire trio con pianoforte equivale più o meno a dire Bill Evans. Ma tutto sta a vedere come dirlo. Nel caso di Pieranunzi, ad esempio, la lezione di Bill Evans è assimilata ormai così in profondità da non essere più distinguibile, innervata com’è in ogni piega del fraseggio. Anche al presenza di Marc Johnson, il bassista prediletto da Evans negli ultimi anni, indurrebbe a cadere nella più scontata mimesi billevansiana, ma Pieranunzi scavalca il rischio a piè pari e ci offre un disco di una concentrazione infallibile. La musica di “Ballads” potrebbe sembrare, a un ascolto distratto, piuttosto monocorde: brani lenti, languidi, spesso tormentosamente malinconici, accordi densi e impressionistici, tocco calibratissimo, di ascendenza classica. Ma tutta l’arte sta nei dettagli, nella sapiente condotta delle voci, nelle armonizzazioni inaspettate, nel finissimo interplay, nella costante attenzione alla melodia: e sono pochi i pianisti capaci di integrare tutti questi elementi in una sintesi così compiuta e convincente come quella di Pieranunzi.
15/11/06JazzitSergio Pasquandrea
Ballads
Enrico Pieranunzi has been a major presence on the Italian jazz scene since the early 1970s, but has only recently begun to attract attention outside of Europe. In 2003, exceptional albums by Pieranunzi began to appear on CamJazz, the only Italian label with significant distribution in the United States. Among their revelations was that Pieranunzi is a very special ballad player.

His new album is one unified, sustained elegiac meditation. Unlike most ballad albums, it contains only two standards. “These Foolish Things” and “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” are comprehensive, unsentimental, and sublime. Seven of the other tracks are Pieranunzi originals. They include some stunning pieces of melodic poetry like “The Heart of a Child” and “Night After Night.” There is also a deeply felt memory by Stefania Tallini called “When All Was Chet.” (Pieranunzi has said that his music was changed forever by playing with Chet Baker.)

Bill Evans’ last bass player, Marc Johnson, takes haunting solos on Ballads. (Drummer Joey Baron completes the trio.) Pieranunzi shares with Evans a miraculous touch that shapes each note like a gentle, muscular sculptor. He is able, in his personal piano language, to enter upon that intimate emotional and intellectual world that Bill Evans first defined in musical terms. More than any living jazz pianist, Enrico Pieranunzi carries forward the Bill Evans legacy.
01/11/06JazzTimesThomas Conrad
Ballads - 5 stars out of 5
Eine Balladenplatte, oh je! Eine von einem prominent besetzten Klaviertrio dazu, Oh je, oh je!! Und dann auch noch zum Teil mit Standardmaterial!!! Das Klaviertrio ist freilich das von Enrico Pieranunzi, eines, das die PR-hochgejazzte und musikalisch dann doch nicht vollzogene »Gleichberechtigung der Musiker« außer Acht lässt, eines, das aus dem gemeinsamen Dienst an der Sache der Musik eine Gleichberechtigung auf einer höheren Ebene vollzieht, eines, das einen Bass einen Fundamentlieferanten mit Soloklasse und ein Schlagzeug ein wirksames, aber dezentes Schwurbelgerät für Raum und Rhythmus sein lässt. Und ein Pianist, der seit vielen Jahren zu den besten gehört; relativ ungehört. Ein musikalischer Ansatz, der gewiss auch der zeitgenössischen Klangerforschung frönt, im Wesentlichen sich aber einfach der Musik annimmt. Pieranunzi ist ein Standardfan, der US-amerikanischen und der eigenen. Und wie er in diese harmonisch wie rhythmisch unprätentiösen Stücke hineinkriecht, in ruhigem Vertrauen auf seine musikalischen Fähigkeiten und seine Inspirationskraft, das lässt viel Tastengeklapper, retro oder modern, einfach verblassen. Wenn sich eine seiner gerühmten Repetitivketten über ganze Akkordblöcke hinzieht, wirkt das nicht als überlegener Kunstgriff, sondern als ob es einfach so und nicht anders sein müsse. Durch ein paar kleine Beckenbewegungen deutet Baron angelegentlich ein Double Feel an, das wie ein Windhauch durch trockenes Laub streicht. Mehr braucht es nicht, um eine neue Atmosphäre zu kreieren. Alles wirkt wie auskomponiert. »Etwas ist offensichtlich nicht dann perfekt, wenn man nichts mehr hinzufügen, sondern wenn man nichts mehr wegnehmen kann«, befand ganz recht der Schriftsteller Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Pieranunzi ist da verdammt nah dran.
01/12/06JazzthetikHenry Altmann
ENRICO PIERANUNZI MARC JOHNSON JOEY BARON Ballads
Ces trois là, par simple affinité, ils s’écouteraient presque respirer la musique. Et si Rome, au delà de ville éternelle, figurait à nouveau au rang de ville olympique, ils monteraient sans conteste sur une des collines, là où serait installé le podium des trios de piano. Par pur paradoxe soit dit en passant, car rien dans le démarche ne relève de (l’esprit de) la compétition. A l’inverse, le parti pris commun s’enracine dans le respect. Celui des thèmes, fussent-ils archi connus. Le respect du collègue aussi, évidemment, celui qui œuvre dans chaque angle du triangle. Dans leur nouvelle tâche – l’étude de la ballade – nos trois moines musiciens ont semble-t-il fait vœu d’équilatéralité. Ils la pratiquent “stricto sensu“, prenant ce qu’il y a à prendre, leur temps par exemple, du bonheur aussi, sans avoir à forcer leur tempérament, inscrivant au fur et à mesure les justes couleurs du paysage mélodique. Ils se font plaisir, cela s’entend. Leur résolution, leur volonté c’est d’en donner également à réentendre les standards ainsi finement restitués. Mine de rien, ils en explorent les nuances avec un drôle de sens de la justesse, de l’économie de l’effet, comme s’ils s’ingéniaient ingénument à ne pas épuiser la substance. Pourquoi faudrait-il une fois encore qualifier d’épithètes surannées la prestation instrumentale, la prestance, la qualité de chacun des musiciens ? Lire leur nom devrait y suffire. Préciser “in fine“ que le trio ainsi reconstitué favorise l’intelligence de la musique de jazz sert de résume. Le reste appartient à l’écoute.
18/12/06JAZZ MagazineRobert Latxague
Pieranunzi/Johnson/Baron Ballads
Ballads è una registrazione eseguita nel 2004 da questo eccellente trio che, formatosi casualmente negli anni ’80 in occasione di un concerto romano nell’assenza del pianista Keeny Drew, ha avuto poi modo di riformarsi e ritrovarsi in diverse occasioni anche a distanza di molti anni, e di registrare recentemente due lavori dedicati ad Ennio Morricone per la stessa Cam Jazz. In questo caso si tratta, come il titolo stesso esplicita, di una serie di brani molto conosciuti provenienti dal repertorio italiano e soprattutto da quello americano; il primo rappresentato dalla “Mi Sono Innamorato Di Te” di Luigi Tenco e da una composizione dedicata alla figura felliniana di Cabiria (Cabiria’s Dream), il secondo da “evergreen” come “These Foolish Things” o “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing”. Ne risulta un lavoro “sospeso” nei suoi effetti: senza mettere in discussione la riconosciuta caratura di tali musicisti, e ricordando l’efficacia delle suddette recenti incisioni “morriconiane”, questo “Ballads” potrebbe risultare a tratti un po’ impaludato in strutture eccessivamente lineari, limitato nell’apporto di Joey Baron e Marc Johnson, forse un po’ sacrificati; vagamente ripetitivo anche nelle interpretazioni del piano di Enrico Pieranunzi, di solito capace di slanci più convincenti. Non mancano momenti molto belli e situazioni di ispirato “interplay”, ma buona parte del disco dà la sensazione di un lavoro incompiuto e meno ispirato che in altre occasioni, a dispetto della bontà degli interpreti. Rispettosamente dimenticabile.

Commento tecnico:
qualità musicale: 6.5
qualità tecnica: 7.5
15/01/07SuonoSergio Spada
Ballads
Un titolo e un repertorio ineludibili per un pianista dalla spiccata sensibilita' lirica e armonica come Pieranunzi. Il suo trio statunitense e' in vita dalla meta' degli anni Ottanta ma ha inciso veramente pochissimo, congedandosi nel 2004 con il pregevole secondo volume dedicato alla musica di Morricone. Questo splendido "Ballads" ha un programma accuratamente selezionato, composto da sette temi originali (sei di Pieranunzi e uno di Baron), due standard, un brano di Tenco e una composizione della pianista Stefania Tallini. L'iniziale "Mi sono innamorato di te" stabilisce subito il mood intimo, raffinato e personale che informa l'intera raccolta. Anche se il magnifico Johnson costituisce un legame naturale, sarebbe errato e semplicistico rimandare lo stile di Pieranunzi a quello di Bill Evans.
Da "When all was Chet" emergono anche l'impronta e la lezione di Baker, uno snodo importante per la formazione estetica di Pieranunzi, che nell'esecuzione di "A flower is a lovesome thing" e "These foolish things" fornisce poi la cifra della propria arte nel rimodellare i brani di tradizione jazzistica con calibrato gusto europeo e spirito neoclassico, tanto che lo stile del pianista romano rappresenta uno dei piu' eccelsi compromessi tra classico e moderno (ascoltare "Sundays" e "Miradas" per credere). Anche se Johnson appare privilegiato nella liberta' di mettersi in mostra, va sottolineata la classe di Baron nel contrappuntare in punta di spazzola e piatti un discorso complessivamente elegante e inebriante.
04/04/07Musica JazzOlindo Fortino
Trio Magic: Live in Japan & Ballads Enrico Pieranunzi/Marc Johnson/Joey Baron
Pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron aren’t really a regular working trio, but whenever they meet for a recording session or short tour, the gathering of these three musicians is a cause for celebration. They first worked together in 1984 after they were stranded in Rome after a tour was cancelled, with Pieranunzi being called in to do a pickup date with the Americans at Music Inn. Since then they have recorded a number of CDs together, as well as spending time on the road as a trio. Pieranunzi’s lyrical style is clearly influenced by the late Bill Evans, while Johnson spent two intense years as a member of Evans’ trio, so it is a natural fit. Baron is the perfect type of percussionist to round out the group, providing masterful background accents while, like Johnson, also working with a number of other Evans-influenced pianists.

...Although Ballads was released prior to Live in Japan, it was actually recorded in the studio following the trio’s Far East tour. As its title suggests, Ballads consists of laid-back arrangements, all beautifully played in lyrical settings. Pieranunzi draws from standards of the Great American Songbook and works by European songwriters, plus his own compositions and one by Baron. Their approach to each piece is rather reserved for the most part, never straying too far from the melody yet making every note count, though Pieranunzi does get a bit animated for a time as he takes over after Johnson’s solo in “These Foolish Things”. Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” has a similar structure, with Pieranunzi showing flashes of Evans’ harmonic sense. All of Pieranunzi’s originals are enjoyable, though no one song stands out from the pack. Baron’s contribution, “Thought”, is a melancholy miniature. Ballads is a perfect CD for a quiet evening at home.
03/06/07AllAboutJazz.comKen Dryden
Pieranunzi /Johnson/Baron Ballads
Balladen - die Kunst, Gefühle zu artikulieren, ohne in verlogene Sentimentalität zu verfallen. Hören Sie einfach Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson und Joey Baron zu, und Sie werden staunend zur Kenntnis nehmen, dass so etwas auch noch in einem Pianotrio möglich sein kann. Eine Traumbesetzung mit exzellenten Individualisten voller Geschmack und Charisma. So etwas muss nicht immer gleich Gutes verheißen, doch bei Pieranunzis persönlichem „trio of my heart“ steht der Ausdruck vor jeglichem instrumentalen Kräftemessen. Der Musik Leben einhauchen, eine Uhr zum Ticken bringen, ein sanftes Glühen erzeugen, das sich langsam zum lodernden Feuer entwickelt: So vitalisieren der gläsern-fragil anschlagende römische Pianist und seine beiden US-Gefährten jedes Thema. Liebeserklärungen wie „MI Sono Innamorato Di Te“ verlieren alles Schnulzige, Johnsons Bassintro in „The Heart Of A Child“ tropft wie Honig in jeden offenen Mund, Barons gefächerte Besen-Subtilität in „When All Was Chet“ bringt Eisberge zum Schmelzen. Niemand tanzt derzeit grandioser auf dem schmalen Grat zwischen Kitsch und großer Kunst.
01/10/06Jazzthingrk
Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johynson, Joey Baron Ballads – four stars
This is one of those records that is so darn tasteful and pleasurable that to fault any aspect of it just appears unseemly. With Pieranunzi, as with Bill Evans, there’s nearly always something that’s indispensable, one or two moments that linger long in the mind. And it’s Evans’ classic trio that one recalls here. Baron is a subtly shimmering joy and Johnson sounds more and more like Scott LaFaro every time I hear him. Of the non-originals the Italian pop “Mi Sono Innamorato Di Te” and Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing” glisten. But it’s the originals that lift this to another level entirely. “When I Think Of You” deserves to become a standard, as does the fabulous and delicate “The Heart Of A Child”. Best of all is the more elaborately unfolding “Cabiria’s Dream”. There was always a hint of something darker in Evans’ oeuvre, of the other side of romance that is loss. That isn’t something that Pieranunzi has, not yet at least. That said, it seems to me that there is Jarrett, then Pieranunzi and then, some way behind, a whole other bunch of guys.
10/10/06JazzwiseDuncan Heining
Miracles à l’italienne!
Un petit détour en Italie avec deux réussites incontestables. Commençons avec la beauté sereine, la douce intensité des Ballads du pianiste Enrico Pieranunzi dont le jeu reflète une âme d’aristocrate. Magnifique d’intelligence interprétative, de tact et de pudeur de sentiment, le Romain y est flanqué de Marc Johnson, le dernier contrebassiste du grand Bill Evans et du subtil batteur Joey Baron. En parfaite harmonie d’intentions, ses fidèles compagnons s’adaptent idéalement à ce piano d’une conduite infaillible, au dessin contrôlé, qui s’impose au fil des écoutes avec une force croissante….
16/02/07le generalistePhilippe Bourdin
Pieranunzi l’enchanteur
C’était il y a quelques années. Mais, pour ceux qui y étaient, c’était hier. Le pianiste romain Enrico Pieranunzi se produisait en duo avec le contrebassiste américain Marc Johnson au Duc des Lombards, à Paris. Se trouvaient donc réunis un héritier de l’immense Bill Evans et celui qui fut le dernier contrebassiste de ce pianiste dont le jeu évoquait un “feu paisible”, ainsi que l’affirmait Miles Davis. Sur scène, ce soir-là, un miracle eut lieu devant une centaine de témoins. Deux immenses musiciens révélèrent l’infiniment petit. C’était l’état de grâce. On retrouve ce niveau dans “Ballads”, disque que le pianiste a enregistré en trio avec Marc Johnson, encore lui, et le batteur “superlatif”, Joey Baron. Ce disque magnifique, pour tout public, fournit la preuve à chaque seconde que la vie peut-être belle. On se souvient que certains avaient qualifié Bill Evans de pianiste de bar. D’autres contempteurs, ou les mêmes, se feront une réflexion identique à l’écoute de cet enregistrement, bien que Pieranunzi soit bien davantage qu’un épigone. Il flirte avec son clavier comme l’on caresse un rêve. Il se livre par petites touches. C’est sa manière impressionniste d’essayer de dire l’indicible. Chez ce pianiste de chambre, chaque note révèle une part de l’intime…
Ces deux disques devraient accompagner tous vos voyages au bout de la nuit.
01/12/06Les Echos week-endRenaud Czarnes
Délicates ballades
Un sommet de délicatesse.
Après deux albums somptueux consacrés aux mélodies d’Ennio Morricone sur le même label CamJazz, le pianiste romain Enrico Pieranunzi et ses deux complices américains, le contrebassiste Marc Johnson et le batteur Joey Baron, nous livrent ici un disque fait uniquement de ballades. Sur ces tempos lents, nos jazzmen qui se comprennent à demi-note font preuve d’une retenue et d’une élégance sans pareille. La contrebasse de Marc Johnson évoque le jeu boisé et lumineux du regretté Red Mitchell. Les cymbales de Joey Baron marquent la ponctuation avec une infinie légèreté.
Quant à Enrico Pieranunzi, on admirera une fois de plus la magnifique sobriété de ses improvisations à l’architecture parfaite. Un album qui plus est fort bien enregistré par Goffredo Gibellini.
28/10/06La CroixYann Mens
Enrico Pieranunzi Ballads
Tras un paseo por un solitario paraje de la costa mediterránea, ya en casa, con las retinas aún impregnadas del paisaje y las bellezas contempladas, mientras anochece, el paseante, sentado al piano intenta trasladar a las teclas las impresiones vividas esa tarde. Lentamente van surgiendo notas, acordes, frases, en diálogo intuitivo pero infalible con los compañeros de trayecto; los tres están imbuidos del mismo espíritu, la comunión anímica es plena: la plasticidad serena, intima y noble de esa tarde se va moldeando poco a poco. No hay grandes contrastes, se diría que estamos oyendo una sola obra en varios movimientos, tal es la unidad de atmósfera que envuelve la sesión. Y sin embargo non hay una sombra de monotonía, todo fluye con la misma natural frescura con la que el atardecer se ha vuelto noche.
Pido disculpas por lo subjetivo de la descripción, pero me parece una forma válida de aludir a la belleza de este disco; también se podrían comentar los ataques lentos y medidos con los que introduce Pieranunzi cada tema, recreándose en la sonoridad del arpegio inicial, dándole a cada nota un peso propio que perfila desde el principio el carácter de la pieza; o la certidumbre con la que sus dos cómplices pulsan sus instrumentos en una dirección melódica, lo que tratándose de Marc Johnson y Joey Baron significa mucho más que un mero acompañamento de lujo: significa la construcción de un rico entramado de líneas paralelas, segundas voces, matices de color, réplicas y silencios que se despliegan con la elegancia y la espontaneidad de una bandada de pajáros.
Quizás este disco no aporte grandes alicientes al oyente que busque planteamientos ambiciosos, complejidad e innovación en su trazado. No importa. Extrae tanto de tan poco (quiero decir: tanta sustancia de tan escaso aparato) que su escucha nos sumerge en la más pura delectación sonora, proporcionando al oído un deleite sutil pero no liviano,exquisito pero no dulzón, sencillo pero no superfluo.
01/08/07MAS JAZZJosé Armenta
Ballads
No busques más. No esperes más. Esto es lo que hay.
Está todo lo que en cierto modo es la balada dentro del mundo del jazz en este disco hecho por tres fieras de la escena internacional.
Puede que eches a faltar alguna de tus favoritas de esas que te hubiera gustado oír y también puede que te sobre alguna de las que ellos han elegido pero esto es lo que ha sido, es y será la balada en el jazz.
Esta es la mayor virtud y también el mayor defecto que tiene el disco en sí mismo porque si te gusta esta música vas a disfrutarlo, pero hay de ti si no te convence porque sufrirías mucho, mucho. Qué decir de esta gente; Pieranunzi es el Bill Evans italiano y lleva muchísimos discos a sus espaldas como para pillarle en renuncios a estas alturas. Marc Johnson fue él último bajista que tuvo Bill Evans en su magnifico trío con lo que, creo, que sabe de qué va la cosa en este mundo y Joey Baron es uno de los baterías que más me gustan y que siempre da su toque en todo lo que hace.
Explicado todo esto sólo puedo decir que es lo que más me ha gustado dentro del disco. “Mi sono innamorato di Te” como afirmación de intenciones en cuanto a titulo y sonido de lo que el disco propone.
”When I think of You” por las elucubraciones de Joey a los platillos y el solo de Marc Johnson que tan bien suena.
”The Heart of a Child” precisamente por la sencillez que encierra , “Sundays” otro tema que apetece. “Thought” firmado por el propio Joey Baron que se podría considerar como la deconstrucción de una balada; si es que esto es posible.
”Miradas” y “Cabiria’s Dream” con las que acaban el disco que son temas que podrían tocarte un poquito más la fibra aunque hay que reconocer que todo el disco mantiene un muy buen nivel.
13/08/07www.distritojazz.comIñigo Ortega
Enrico Pieranunzi BALLADS
Nada puede reprocharse a una formación como la reunida por Pieranunzi para este proyecto dedicado por entero al clima recogido de la balada. El pianista lleva ese clima a la dinámica y la intención de la canción de cuna. El conjunto suena dulce, compensado en cada detalle, delicado y dosificado. El mero hecho de escuchar a Baron con escobillas da buena cuenta de ese esfuerzo por dejar el fuego en casa. El momento más sentimental llega con “The Heart of a Child”, composición sencilla pero con asombrosa hondura en la que a la lírica innegable del líder hay que sumarle un hermoso solo del contrabajista. Exceptuando algunos temas como “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing”, todo discurre por esos derroteros de la corrección y la pulcritud (Pieranunzi no toca ni una sola nota superficial). El trabajo de contención es encomiable, pero también el riesgo de adormecer un tanto al oyente.
15/05/07Cuadernos de jazzQ. L. Mourelle
ENRICO PIERANUNZI – MARC JOHNSON – JOEY BARON Ballads
Val la pena posar el CD al reproductor i retrobar-se amb la bellesa d’aquelles coses explicades amb senzillesa. Fa almenys dues dècades que Enrico Pieranunzi va trobar-se Marc Johnson i Joey Baron (sí, el fidel bateria aràcnid de John Zorn i Dave Douglas), els músics ideals per a la seva particular recerca de la subtilesa, les harmonies suggerents i la delicadesa des les melodies. A “Ballads” tots tres s’entreguen a un gènere de temps lents que netegen magistralment de prejudicis i d’avorriment. Per alguna cosa es diu que Pieranunzi és un merescut hereu de Bill Evans.
29/03/07JAÇZJ.F.
Ballads
...Hay discos que hay que ir haciéndose con ellos a poco a poco. Hoy se escuchan un rato y mañana otro, hasta completar su audición. Y es que si quiere escucharlos de un tirón pueden dejar al más valiente para el arrastre. Es lo que sucede con “Ballads”, un disco protagonizado por el pianista Enrico Pieranunzi, el contrabajista Marc Johnson y el baterista Joey Baron. Aunque el trío son palabras mayores en esto del jazz, la interpretación de estas once baladas no deja de ser correcta. No están mal, pero tampoco se deja de hacer lo que se está haciendo para escucharlos.
15/04/07WORLD MUSICeditorial
ENRICO PIERANUNZI Ballads
A Enrico Pieranunzi le sienta bien la marcha lenta. Es un pianista que recuerda en sus cadencias a Bill Evans, pero también es capaz de evocar las pulsaciones enérgicas de McCoy Tyner. Sea como fuere, este trabajo cocinado a fuego lento sobre un menú de once baladas nos entrega la inspiración más íntima del romano, que por otra parte sabe mucho del jazz lírico a raíz de sus colaboraciones con Chet Baker. La gloria del trabajo se reparte entre los dos miembros de su último trío, el contrabajista Marc Johnson y el baterista Joey Baron, dos gregarios de lujo con personalidad propia. Todo el lote es una caricia a los sentidos. Individualmente, y al margen de la elegancia del propio Pieranunzi, destacan la delicadeza de Baron sobre parches y platillos y la corpulencia rítmica de Johnson. Uno de los mejores colectivos que ha capitaneado el italiano.
08/03/07El CulturalP. Sanz
Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson & Joey Baron - Ballads
El aficionado sabe bien qué esperar del trío formado por Pieranunzi, Johnson y Baron: elegancia, exquisita coordinación llena de detalles de gran finura, toque cristalino y de gran sutileza tímbrica y armónica, y interpretaciones sensibles en las que todo aparece calibrado y a la vez fruto del momento.
Un título como “Ballads” invita, claro está, a encontrar todo esto en grado supino. Y lo hay. El enfoque de Pieranunzi, Johnson y Baron es claro: nada de complejas rearmonizaciones ni arrebatados diálogos; pura adoración de la línea melódica, relajación y atmósfera soñadora. De esa dirección surgen pequeñas maravillas, como “These Foolish Things”, con un delicado acompañamiento de platos que deja absorto, o las nostálgicas melodías de “The Heart of a Child”, tomada a turnos por Johnson y Pieranunzi, mientras las escobillas de Baron revolotean, y “Cabiria’s Dream”.
Estos son momentos de gran trío, pero el enfoque adoptado se prueba demasiado restrictivo, una vez que deja fuera los grandes momentos en los que Pieranunzi ejercita su toque a dos manos, cuando el trío se abre totalmente y se aleja de la linealidad, y aquéllos en los que el juego armónico condensa piezas hasta darle una soberbia consistencia intelectual, momentos todos ellos que han hecho a este trío uno de los puntales del formato en la actualidad.
Apostado en un acercamiento sensible, sin tensión y puramente epidérmico, “Ballads” termina por parecer, aún en su refinamiento, repetitivo y parcial, un álbum para convencer a los que ya están convencidos.
06/03/07www.tomajazz.comÁngel Gómez Aparicio