On a day of little cheer in both weather and world events the sun came out for two hours at least as Rossano Sportiello, on a Scottish tour away from his Greenwich Village home, coaxed moments of radiance from the Inverurie Town Hall baby grand piano. Like the town hall itself, the instrument has been at the heart of music-making in the town for countless years and has the scars to prove it, but rarely in recent years has it sounded so bright and full. Rossano has been here before: the large audience settled quickly into a state of warm approbation as he began the first set with the quicksilver ‘Deed I Do’.
Rossano cited Hank Jones as teaching the great lesson ‘you do not have to bang the instrument to swing, you can play softly, with a couple of fingers, and still swing.’ This Rossano did (with more than two fingers) as he moved through the Great American Songbook and gave us many jazz standards. There were elements of bebop, stride piano, swing, and classical with a fusion finale incorporating Chopin and Paganini. A Leoncavallo aria was in there too as homage to Rossano’s Italian heritage. The delicacy and precision of the playing shone through such timeless pieces as ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ and many others all enhanced by silvery descants and fluid dynamics. Tempo changes to stride, powerful walking baselines and passionate rhythmic two-handed motifs kept the familiar fresh and interesting. Rossano’s relaxed style and his conversational introductions endeared him further. ‘Echoes of Spring’, recorded by Willie “The Lion” Smith in 1935, was a stand-out delight as was the complex Fats Waller tune ‘Viper’s Drag’.
This was the first of six concerts in Inverurie Music’s 23/24 season which also incorporates music workshops for local musicians. This organisation, one of many chamber music ‘clubs’ in Scotland continues to bring stunning musical talent to our doorstep at bargain prices. The next concert, the youthful exciting Chiaro Piano Trio is in the Town Hall Inverurie on the 18 November.
Details of concerts to come here at inveruriemusic.org