Chick Corea & Stefano Bollani

Two pianists improvising together is a great challenge, and in these performances with Stefano, inspirational and great fun. There were no rehearsals for these performances – only a choice of songs to use. The freely improvised segments were spontaneous and not at all pre-arranged. Orvieto was winter-cold. The experience was summer-warm.

“Orvieto” is the first album release of the exciting duo of Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani, a live set drawn from New Year performances at the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival where the two pianists played several nights of concerts together. Chick and Stefano have been giving such concerts, mostly in the context of Italian festivals, for more than two years now. They started out in Ravello in July 2009, and from the outset it was clear to both artists that this was a combination of great musical potential. Bollani points out that he has been listening to Corea’s music since he was eleven years old, taking what he could “from his style, his phrasing and his incredible rhythm,” and feels honoured, he says, to be playing in such company. Corea, from his side, has been monitoring Bollani’s playing for a few years, his liner notes to the box set reissue of “Solo Piano Improvisations/Children’s Songs” (ECM 2140-42) already mentioning Stefano as a pianist who inspired him.

Over the years Chick Corea has been a pioneer in two-piano performance, partnering with Herbie Hancock, Friedrich Gulda, Nicolas Economou, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba in acclaimed concerts and recordings. Lately, Stefano Bollani, too, has also been playing two piano concerts, with Martial Solal. The two players come to the combination with much broad experience, yet what they have achieved together raises the potential frequently to the borders of magic: the consistency of their imagination is astonishing. Throughout these performances Corea and Bollani complete and extend each other’s phrases almost as if – as Bollani has said – a single mind was controlling all four hands. Yet at the same time, “the two virtuosos displayed an incredibly harmonious capability of maintaining clearly identifiable personal traits even while playing obligatos”, to quote

The inventiveness in evidence extends through the genres, with a 75-minute programme including collective improvisations by Chick and Stefano, Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba” (a favourite since the era of My Spanish Heart), Bollani’s “A Valsa da Paula,” tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim including “Retrato Em Branco E Preto” (“Portrait in Black and White,” previously recorded by Bollani with Enrico Rava on The Third Man), Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” a robust “Blues in F,” Miles Davis’s “Nardis” (which Corea used to play with the composer), standards including “Darn that Dream” and “If I Should Lose You,” a flamenco-influenced traditional tune and more.

Album Tracks

  1. Orvieto Improvisation No. 1
  2. Retrato em Branco e Preto
  3. If I Should Lose You
  4. Doralice
  5. Jitterbug Waltz
  6. A Valsa de Paula
  7. Orvieto Improvisation No. 2 / Nardis
  8. Este Seu Olhar
  9. Darn That Dream
  10. Tirititran
  11. Armando's Rhumba
  12. Blues in F