Orvieto

Chick Corea, Stefano Bollani

Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani in their first recorded collaboration, a document of a most spirited gig in Orvieto’s Teatro Mancinelli last December. Effervescent virtuosity abounds as the two piano genii romp through a programme that includes Jobim’s “Retrato Em Branco E Preto”, the swing ballad “Darn That Dream”, Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz”, Miles Davis’s “Nardis”, blues, improvisations and more. The recording is Corea’s first new ECM date in more than a quarter-century.

Featured Artists Recorded

2010-2011, Teatro Mancinelli, Orvieto

Original Release Date

30.09.2011

  • Part I
  • 1Orvieto Improvisation No. 1
    (Chick Corea, Stefano Bollani)
    04:12
  • 2Retrato Em Branco E Preto
    (Chico Buarque, Antonio Carlos Jobim)
    06:16
  • 3If I Should Lose You
    (Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger)
    04:24
  • 4Doralice
    (Dorival Caymmi, Antonio Almeida)
    05:42
  • 5Jitterbug Waltz
    (Fats Waller)
    07:30
  • 6A Valsa da Paula
    (Stefano Bollani)
    06:06
  • Part II
  • 7Orvieto Improvisation No. 2 - Nardis
    (Chick Corea, Stefano Bollani, Miles Davis)
    08:45
  • 8Este Seu Olhar
    (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
    05:44
  • 9Darn That Dream
    (Edgar de Lange, Jimmy Van Heusen)
    07:11
  • 10Tirititran
    (Traditional)
    06:51
  • 11Armando's Rhumba
    (Chick Corea)
    06:05
  • 12Blues In F
    (Chick Corea, Stefano Bollani)
    06:05
Jazz pianists spend a lot of time alone with their craft, and often just as much in the context of a rhythm section. It´s less common for them to sit down and make music with each other, though it does happen every now and then. The scarcity is enough to make you notice a good piano-duo album when it arrives… ”Orvieto” is a concert recording starring Chick Corea, the eminent American post-bop pianist who turned 70 this year, and Stefano Bollani, a quick-thinking Italian of similar effervescence, now 38. Recorded at last year´s Umbria Jazz Winter festival, it involved the barest preparation – loose set list, no rehearsals – but some favourable odds. For one thing, Mr. Corea has an unusually productive track record in two-piano settings, going back to “An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert”. And he has a few years of history with Mr. Bollani, on European stages. Their buoyant, bustling take on a standard like “If I Should Lose You” (or, for that matter, Dorival Caymmi´s “Doralice”) feels brisk, companionable and practically seamless. Mr. Bollani has compared their output to the work of one pianist with four hands, which sounds fanciful and self-serving until you absorb the results.
Nate Chinen, New York Times
 
Le résultat est ébouriffant: entre le maestro américain tout juste septuagénaire et son fougueux et juvénile émule italien, l’entente est parfaite, sous le signe de la complicité et du plaisir partagé. Difficile de dire qui joue quoi dans ce déferlement de notes que l’on croirait produites par un virtuose quadrumane, entre envolées rhapsodiques, tentations atonales et swing décontracté. Sans oublier une vonne touche d’humour!
La Liberté
 
A prancing, marching stride-piano feel follows rhapsodic, gradually intensifying Jobim explorations early on. Fats Waller’s “Jitterburg Waltz” juggles time-patterns, trills, stabs and swing. Bollani’s “A Valsa da Paula” is quite abstract, and “Tirititran” develops from handclapping and drumming on the piano through tinkling, stop-start free improve to relaxed traditional grooving that recalls old-time pianists such as Erroll Garner. But it’s Corea’s tumbling “Armando’s Rhumba” and an impulsive “Blues in F” (the most creative assertion of their differences as players) that unlock some of the best moments.
The Guardian
 
Orvieto, the new ECM album by pianists Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani, is one of the finest piano duets this writer has heard in years. The combination of the Sicilian-American Corea with the Milanese Bollani yields a tandem with the perfect fusion of similarity and divergence.
Rob Johnson, Examiner
 
Bollani’s effervescence dovetails perfectly with Corea’s mischievous approach on this set of improvisations, standards spanning seven decades, and originals like Corea’s often-recorded “Armando’s Rhumba”, here taken to glorious extremes as the two pianists manage the impossible, finishing each others’ thoughts, coming together in uncanny unison, and accompanying both themselves and each other in ways that belie their avoidance of rehearsals. Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” has rarely sounded this alive, swinging with unteffered energy as they effortlessly move between individual and in-tandem soloing. […] The two instruments converge towards the center of the mix from lower register to upper, giving “Orvieto” and greater “you are there”-feeling – but “there” isn’t in the audience, it’s right up there with the pianists […] less a duo, and more the remarkable melding of musical minds for a most singular purpose.
John Kelman, All about jazz
 
Was Corea und Bollani aus den bekannten und beliebten Standards machen, ist ein kleines Wunder. Da klingt eine Bossa mal, als hätte sie Olivier Messiaen neu harmonisiert, und in den frei improvisierten Teilen offenbaren die Pianisten neben ihrer Freude am Virtuosen auch immer wieder ihre Vorliebe für die atonalen Klänge der Neuen Musik. Ein absolutes Highlight des Albums ist der "Blues In F", eine liebevoll-ironische Auseinandersetzung mit der Urform des Jazz. Da werden Klischees zitiert, humorvoll zerlegt und modernisiert, und dennoch ist stets zu merken, wie viel den beiden die Musik bedeutet.
Mario-Felix Vogt, FonoForum
 
A viruosic stuff but with real empathy, each inspiring the other and allowing ideas to develop naturally while clearly also enjoying themselves.
Rob Adams, Sunday Herald
 
Momente des Überflusses stehen humorvollen Dialogen gegenüber, Romantizismen der Wucht der Virtuosen. Unterm Strich aber dominiert das Lustvolle des gemeinsamen Musizierens und da beide Pianisten tief in ihrem Inneren auch Clowns sind, haben nicht nur sie, sondern auch die Hörer ihren Spaß.
Ralf Dombrowski, crescendo
 
Im vergangenen Jahr erlebte (das alljährliche Jazzfestival in Umbrien) eine improvisatorische Sensation: Chick Corea und Stefano Bollani an zwei Klavieren. Die beiden Maestri spielten sich frei und einander die Bälle zu, Vorlagen und Konzepte wurden bisweilen fix beerdigt oder mustergültig befolgt - und das Ergebnis ist zum einen atmosphärischer Free Jazz, zum anderen rasante Phantasiegeschosse bei Standards. Der Corea-Fan ist natürlich erbaut, wenn gegen Ende "Armando´s Rhumba" aus der Versenkung auftaucht und pianistisch gleichsam ans Starkstromkabel angeschlossen wird. Selten wurde die Formel vom "blinden Einvernehmen" so mustergültig eingelöst wie hier.
Wolfram Goertz, Rheinische Post
 
Due pianoforti, che suonano in contemporanea e insieme improvvisano giodanco con i „neri“ e i „bianchi“ delle tastiere. Non ci sono state prove, un rapido accordo sulla scelta die brani da cui partire è più che sufficiente. La parola alla musica, e quella arriva.
Paolo Odello, L’Unita
 
Der Mitschnitt ist ein Musterfall und Meisterwerk. Corea und Bollani improvisieren teils ganz frei, teils über Kompositionen des einen oder andern; drei Titel stammen aus dem Fundus der brasilianischen Musik, drei aus dem der Jazz-Standards. Der Grad der Einfühlung, welchen die beiden bei diesem Gedankenaustausch erreichen, ist stupend und gelegentlich nicht mehr anders zu erklären als Telepathie. (...) Wie sich die brillianten Melodielinien verknäueln, wieder lösen, neu durchwirken, der eine den anderen lanciert oder ihm auch mal polternd ins Wort fällt, ist hinreissend. Wenn sie gemeinsam losdonnern, dann nur für kurze Momente, wie um die subtileren, fein strukturierten Konversationen zum Leuchten zu bringen. Kristallin, intelligent, sehr unterhaltend.
Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche
 
Après s´être partagé la scène pendant deux ans, Chick Corea et Stefano Bollani offrent avec Orvieto un large aperçu de leur duo exaltant. Une réussite totale. (...) “Armando´s Rhuma” – un des “tubes” de Corea – atteint ici la perfection dans la spontanéité de son développement et de son architecture. Les deux génies bâtissent, à un tempo relevé, un crescendo colérique dans lequel s´entremêlent les envolées lyriques de clavier experts en circonvolutions mélodiques, alternant l´art de la fugue aux unissons impromptus. L´ovation du public et le rire des deux complices, ponctuant la fin du morceau, traduisent partaitement ces quelques minutes de bonheur, filant au même rythme que les doubles croches de leurs mains droites et nous confortent dans l´idée que ce nouvel enregistrement est une pièce maîtresse du répertoire. Un chef-d´oevre.
Louis Michaud, So Jazz
 
Mal freudig erregt und dann wieder mit leicht melancholischer Schlagseite. Viel besser konnte das Jazz-Jahr 2010 nicht ausklingen.
Guido Fischer, Jazzthetik
 
Sie erschaffen eine Welt der Klänge, für die sie vertrautes Terrain verlassen müssen. Beide beherrschen die hohe Kunst der poetischen Reduktion. Bei diesem Live-Mitschnitt nehmen sie sich so weit zurück, dass ihr persönlicher Stil sich bestenfalls noch wie ein fernes Echo unter die Stücke mischt. Hin und wieder taucht da etwas Vertrautes aus den Fantasien auf, meist dann, wenn man es am wenigsten vermutet. Ihre Exkurse sind gleichermaßen sachlich wie schwärmerisch, offensiv wie introspektiv.
Wolf Kampmann, Jazzthing
 
The rapturous applause of the audience at the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival where this was recorded in December 2010 says it all – a remarkable pairing.
Sofi Mogensen, Properganda
 
"L´esibizione con doppio pianoforte è spesso infida, anche per i grandissimi, per via del rischio sempre incombente della ridondanza e dell´effetto facile a scapito della profondità. Ma qui due autentici specialisti volteggiano magistralmente su quel filo sottile, impressionando per la destrezza e la ritmica implacabile, ed emozionando nel ritagliare melodie perfette, dal suono incantevole. È la meravigliosa capacità di ascolto reciproco a fare la differenza in queste registrazioni che spaziano da improvvisazioni libere a brani originali, da standard a suggestioni sudamericane, il tutto tenuto insieme da una trama preziosa fatta di gioia di suonare e talento smisurato."
Iammarino, MusicaJazz
 
"Ascoltando il frenetico susseguirsi di esposizioni tematiche, i bruschi cambi ritmici e le alternanze dei primi piani sembra che le frasi non scaturiscano dalle mani dei due virtuosi, ma siano frutto di un eloquio continuo dettato da una sola anima artistica. Le composizioni esplorate dal navigato maestro statunitense e dal suo più giovane alter ego coprono un cospicuo numero di autori, eppure, entrambi offrono un´omogeneità formale che permette il fluire della musica. (...) `Orvieto´ è la sintesi di un doppio lessico pianistico, in cui l´incontro fra I due maestri del piano jazz internazionale confluisce in un crogiuolo di emozioni, ricordi e disincantato amore per la `Musica´.
Francesco Peluso, Jazz Dischi
 
Eine "grandiose neue Einspielung bei ECM (...), die das Zeug hat, zu einem Meilenstein des Jazz zu werden: zwei Flügelspieler, aufgenommen live beim Umbria Jazz Winter 2010, zwei Berserker, die ihre Instrumente traktieren, dass sich die Tasten biegen, die dann aber wieder zu Lyrismen fähig sind, wie man sie seit den Tagen eines Bill Evans selig nicht mehr gehört hat."
Wolfgang Sandner, FAZ - taktvoll
 
"Zwei Meister gestochen scharfer Töne. Harmonieren sie? Und wie! `Orvieto´ heißt die CD wie der Aufnahmeort. Ein Abenteuer ist auf ihr nachzuerleben - und ein Tastenfest."
Roland Spiegel, BR Klassik
 
"Bollani e Corea, giganti della tastiera che uniti in un fantastico dialogo telepatico, dominato da massimo ascolto reciproco, invenzioni ritmiche, continuo scambio dí ruoli, improvvisazioni sviluppate in totale simbiosi, regalano tanta bella musica rileggendo temi personali e standard ultrafamosi.”
Carlo Argiolas, L´Unione Sarda
“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.”
— Chick Corea

“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 Herbie Hancock, Friedrich Gulda, Nicolas Economou, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba in acclaimed concerts and recordings. Latterly, 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 allaboutjazz.com.

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.

“Orvieto” is Chick Corea’s first new ECM recording in 27 years. Many of his early landmark recordings appeared on the label, including Circle’s “Paris Concert”, “Crystal Silence” with Gary Burton, and the eponymous debut of “Return To Forever”. Near the beginning of his label discography are the two volumes of solo “Piano Improvisations” from 1971, important discs which launched a great tradition of solo piano music on ECM, and were soon followed by Keith Jarrett’s “Facing You” and Paul Bley’s “Open, To Love”. Stefano Bollani’s “Piano Solo” album of 2005 belongs to this distinguished tradition. Other ECM recordings by Bollani include “Stone In The Water” with his ‘Danish trio’ with Jesper Bodilsen (double-bass) and Morten Lund (drums), “Tati” with Enrico Rava and Paul Motian and the aforementioned Rava/Bollani duo disc, “The Third Man”. He can also be heard on Rava’s “Easy Living” and “New York Days” discs.