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Joy in Spite of Everything

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Audio CD, August 25, 2014
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At the age of six, wanting to become a singer, Stefano Bollani would accompany himself on the family keyboard. A few years later, he recorded a cassette of himself singing and playing, which he sent to his idol Renato Carosone, along with a letter explaining his dream. Carosone replied advising him to listen to a lot of blues and jazz, and so Bollani did.
His first record was the second ... Read more in Amazon's Stefano Bollani Store

Visit Amazon's Stefano Bollani Store
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Joy in Spite of Everything + Lathe of Heaven + Charlie Haden - Jim Hall
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 25, 2014)
  • Original Release Date: 2014
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM Records
  • ASIN: B00LG92FWA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,388 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Easy Healing
2. No Pope No Party
3. Alobar e Kudra
4. Las Hortensias
5. Vale
6. Teddy
7. Ismene
8. Tales From The Time Loop
9. Joy In Spite Of Everything

Editorial Reviews

Stefano Bollani is an artist of ebullient virtuosity, with uncommon sensitivity and range. The Italian pianist has proved to be at home on ECM improvising solo or leading a trio, as well as engaging in duos with Enrico Rava, Chick Corea and Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda.

With Joy in Spite of Everything an album of new compositions by the pianist for a trans-Atlantic quintet Bollani has made his most beautifully textured and infectiously lyrical statement yet. He recorded these nine pieces at New York Citys Avatar Studios with the Danish rhythm section from his Stone in the Water trio bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund plus two prominent American players and ECM intimates: guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Mark Turner.

As its title reflects, Joy in Spite of Everything brims with an indefatigable lightness of spirit despite the inevitable shadows of life.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By W. T. Haight II on August 29, 2014
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
8500 stars. Not a band I ever thought to see on record. Manfred Eicher has always possessed an unbeatable talent for pairing musicians for studio projects; I don't know if he's responsible for putting Bollani (with trio) in touch with Bill Frisell, or who chose to invite Mark Turner aboard, but it was inspired matchmaking (to understate the obvious). The EPK video for the project features Bollani (of course) lauding his musical heroes for wisely deleting notes from their presentation. "Joy In Spite Of Everything" provides a study in artfully chosen silences from all participants. Everyone involved in this session is listening to everyone else. Make sure you join them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By PS on September 21, 2014
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Excellent recording! Dreamy, playful, adventurous, and with all kinds of cool mood-shifts and tempo changes and melodies swirling around shifting, subtle, and lively turn-on-a-dime rhythms (the bass and drum work is superb). Don't listen to some of the other reviews: Frisell is excellent (no surprise) and it's nice to listen to him he's not the leader but inventing witty comps to support others (but yes, he has some good solos). Turner and Bollani are both in top form. Bollani's piano doesn't go so much in the direction of percussive power and angled edges, like some other pianists popular these days (Iyer, for instance, who I also really like). It's quicksilvery in its movements and harmonically adventurous, always done with subtle elegance: no surprise that he tips his hat to the great Teddy Wilson in one song. The tunes are top notch, mostly penned by Bollani I think. (My mp3 download didn't come with any notes or a pdf booklet: I hate that!) By the way, the "in spite of everything" in the title surely alludes to all the violence and b.s. in the world today, as the cover photos today. In the studio and in their hearts, these guys created an antidote.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Lamperetta on September 27, 2014
Format: Audio CD
With “Joy in Spite of Everything,” pianist Stefano Bollani continues to craft a diverse yet cohesive discography. Assembling a supergroup which includes tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and guitarist Bill Frisell, the sum total of the ensemble, and the music presented, is greater than the value of its individual parts.
Varying group configurations to include, duo, trio, quartet, and quintet, Bollani composed the nine tunes presented with these players specifically in mind. Individual and collective strengths are spotlighted time and time again such as on the opening “Easy Healing,” where a south of the border bounce provides a backdrop over which the instrumentalists make their initial solo statements.
Throughout the disc highlights abound. “No Pope No Party” recalls the jazz heyday of the late fifties and early sixties with a hint of Monk before parading down a decidedly modern path.
“Alobar e Kudra” is a trio piece on which Bollani shows that he can swing with the best of them.
Frisell is easily one of the genre’s most idiosyncratic guitarists. “Teddy” is an intriguing duo that finds he and Bollani dancing at times in lockstep and others engaged in a call-and-response synchronicity.
Smack dab in the middle of the program (song 5 of 9) is the disc’s longest tune and its centerpiece, the twelve-minute “Vale.” Featuring the quintet, piano, tenor, and guitar deliver a pensive theme while the individual solos yearn for, and deliver, bits of splintered light.
The title track is yet another outing for trio. Simultaneously closing the disc and bookending it with a performance that is as nuanced as it is engaging.
Encapsulating the first rate jazz that has long been synonymous with ECM, Stefano Bollani’s “Joy in Spite of Everything” is a title which belongs in any well-rounded listening library as it offers a treasure trove of pleasures for both the ears, mind, and soul.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roochak on November 15, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm still getting over my shock at hearing an ECM album open with a calypso, but who says everything always has to be slow, soul-searching tunes full of pregnant silences? This album tweaked my expectations even further in the swinging, cheerfully dissonant "No Pope, No Party," in which Turner's fractured but lyrical solo and Bollani's sweet-and-sour piano suggest what a musical encounter between Warne Marsh and Herbie Nichols might've sounded like. Frisell's down-home solo sounds as relaxed on this track as a country guitar picker who turns out to be the guy who invented all this stuff years earlier.

I'll single out the waltz "Alobar e Kudra" (background music playing in the world's most dangerous restaurant) and the midtempo "Tales from the Time Loop" only because I keep cueing up those tracks incessantly; the melodies are wonderful, and Turner's and Frisell's solos on the latter are particularly fine, on a disc full of fine solos. Bollani's chameleonic piano resists comparisons: the ingredients of his style would have to include a measure of Chick, a dash of Oscar, a pinch of Michel Legrand, and god knows what else. It all works wonderfully on this album, and I'm going to have to check out more of his music.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Stefano Bollani is a veteran jazz pianist from Italy who has issued a bunch of albums over the years in a multitude of settings (solo, as a trio, etc.). His creativity and energy never ceases to amaze me. For this latest album, he calls on his previous Trio partners Morton Lund (drums) and Jesper Bodilsen (bass), and for good measure adds two more musicians to the line-up, Bill Frisell (guitar) and Mark Turner (saxophone).

"Joy In Spite of Everything" (9 tracks; 76 min.) starts off with the most accessible track on here, the delicious "Easy Healing" that has you thinking Cuba or Brazil has been on Bollani's mind lately. Next comes the wickedly funny titled "No Pope, No Party", how can you not smile at that? It surprised me how much leeway Bollani gives to the other musicians, in particular the saxophonist, who truly shines on this track but is very much in the forefront on many other tracks. "Las Hortensias" is a moody jazz ballad. "Vale" is at 12+ min. the longest track on here, and also one of the more abstract pieces. Deeper into the album we get the outstanding "Tales From the Time Loop", where the quintet really shines. The rollicking title track closes the album in rousing fashion, wow!

In all, I can't say enough how much I like this album. I am by no means a jazz "expert" but to me this album finds a good middle ground between "classic" and "modern" jazz, although slightly leaning more towards the modern side. I can't wait to see what Stefano Bollani does next. Meanwhile "Joy In Spite of Everything" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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