Live at the Village Vanguard
Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi here offers a live set that was recorded in 2011 – a new release for 2013; it’s unclear why it’s taken so long to see the light of day but it’s a special set, not least of all for capturing one of Paul Motian’s last performances behind the kit. The inclusion of Motian on the drum stool is surely part of what links Pieranunzi’s sound to the late great Bill Evans; that sizzling trio interplay. Bassist Marc Johnson relishes moments to control the mood (as on Pensive Fragments) and Pieranunzi cascades and trills around the puddle-splash cymbals of Motian.
Pieranunzi made his name as a top session jazzer in his homeland before working with the likes of Lee Konitz and Chet Baker and then forming his own trio. Most recently he and Johnson had worked on a series of albums with drummer Joey Baron, here Paul Motian subs for Baron, offering his unique touch. His often perfect touch.
This trio finds new ways to approach old standards – no mean feat. The set opens with a killer version of Thelonious Monk’s I Mean You, all bounce and energy. The piano flirtatious but full of purpose.
And there’s genuine menace – a sense of intrigue, even – in the intro to this trio’s take on My Funny Valentine; just when you thought you couldn’t hear this tune in any other new way.
Pieranunzi’s original tune, Tales From The Unexpected, is another highlight. And the closing rendition of Nino Rota’s La Dolce Vita is a wonderful way to end, the trio effortlessly, seamlessly sliding between different groove-styles.
You’d buy this for Pieranunzi’s playing and writing/arranging if you were a fan. You’d own this for Motian’s playing; one of his last outings – but you’d hang on to this forever due to the interplay of the group, a class-act trio giving their all collectively to add to the might of some already towering tunes.