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.