THE MAESTRO PLAYS COLE PORTER at Birdland (Dec. 1, 2010)

Last night, Wednesday, December 1, the Beloved and I went to Birdland to catch another edition of David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band.  The weather had kept many people away, but the band played beautifully to the small, attentive audience.

That band?  David, tuba; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan Block, clarinet, alto, and a surprise vocal; Jim Fryer, trombone, euphonium, and vocals; Kevin Dorn, drums. 

And Rossano Sportiello, piano. 

Rossano — “The Maestro” to me any many others — made the most of his solo feature.  He decided, without any fanfare, to create a small but powerful Cole Porter tribute, beginning with a sad, delicate EV’RYTIME WE SAY GOODBYE and moving into a JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS that was a rollicking extravaganza. 

Students of the jazz tradition will be able to say, “Oh, there’s a Dave McKenna walking bass,” or perhaps, “Catch those hints of Cliff Jackson, will you?”  But it’s all Rossano: the gliding agility, the dazzling intensity that doesn’t rely on raising the volume or pounding the keys; the singular voicings, his beautiful touch. 

It was an astonishing performance — and halfway through this video, I couldn’t resist panning away from the piano to catch the rest of the LACB, leaning silent and awestruck at the other end of the room, savoring every nuance. 

Maestro Sportiello melds lyricism and swing so beautifully, that a performance like this, extraordinary for us, is what he does so well every time I’ve ever heard him play. 

Bravo!  Bravo!

2 responses to “THE MAESTRO PLAYS COLE PORTER at Birdland (Dec. 1, 2010)

  1. somewhere Art Tatum is grinning.

  2. Agustín Pérez

    Michael
    I was about to ask if you had already listened to the recent Rossano’s “Lucky To Be Me” album on Arbors (I ordered it a few days ago but haven’t received it yet)… when I checked Arbors’ website to discover that you wrote the liner notes!
    And what about Scott Hamilton & Rossano Sportiello’s “Midnight at Nola´s Penthouse”, also on Arbors?
    Every new disc confirms and reinforces that Sportiello is one of the greatest jazz pianists of our days… at least to classic jazz freaks like us!

    BW,
    Agustín

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