The Italian pianist has often themed his recordings around specific artists – fellow pianists Bill Evans and Paul Bley on his ECM debut, Raccolto, in 2003, and the film director Pier Paolo Pasolini in Re: Pasolini in 2007. With In the Morning, Stefano Battaglia‘s focus is the American composer Alec Wilder.
While we might know Wilder best for writing popular songs covered by jazz singers, like I’ll Be Around and It’s So Peaceful In The Country, he was a far broader composer than that, writing “serious” chamber music, opera even, and also the book American Popular Song: The Great Innovators (1900-1950).
It’s this crossover nature of Wilder’s, the overlap between song and chamber music, which clearly appeals to both the musician and the intellect of Battaglia, and both his love of Wilder’s music and the creative stimulation it provides are evident in this live performance with Salvatore Maiore on bass and Roberto Dani on drums.
The opening title track, for example, sounds in the way the Battaglia trio play it much more like the product of a composer sitting in an Italian village square or in a Viennese café than it does an urbane, Algonquin Hotel resident in New York.
River Run swings gracefully with the band in joyous, flowing mode, and yet even here the music is not obviously American. The band is able to break into freer territory on occasions without ever losing the heart of the music. Their rapport is amazing.
An album which shows Alec Wilder’s music in a broader, much more interpretive light, and which I suspect the man himself would have been fascinated by.
If you are a Battaglia fan, as I am, this is a peach of an album; f you don’t know his music, it’s a fine place to start.
Categories: CD review