A thirtieth anniversary reissue to mark the first coming together of the trio which was formed in unlikely circumstances when pianist Enrico Pieranunzi got a call from Rome jazz club the Music Inn, as the pianist explains in the notes, asking him to take the place of Kenny Drew. “I can still feel the thrill sensation in my body when the three of us started playing together,” the Italian piano jazz icon, now 64, writes.
With a primary influence in his artistic DNA of the music of Bill Evans Pieranunzi was excited to play with Johnson because of the latter’s connections with Evans late in the pianist’s career. And after that initial successful encounter he retained a connection with Johnson and Baron (the latter best known for his later work with Bill Frisell) gigging and recording New Lands (Timeless) in 1984 and two years later Deep Down (Soul Note). Because of Baron’s heavy touring with Frisell among other commitments it wasn’t until 1997’s The Chant of Time that the next PJB trio record was possible and then in 2001 (reissued here on the first disc) a record dedicated to the music of the great film composer Ennio Morricone, the live album Current Conditions, and then a follow-up Morricone 2 album three years on from the initial one (the second disc of this reissue). Three extra tracks recorded in Japan in 2004 have been added which fans of the trio will just have to have. The originally issued material, though, alone contains some remarkable lump-in-the-throat moments, for instance hear Johnson’s solo on ‘Incontro’. Morricone’s music draws out an aria of inventiveness and in the responsive trio’s hands the selections, often less familiar pieces from the film composer's vast output, sits remarkably alongside the experience of hearing jazz standards grounded in the Great American Songbook particularly that produced in the 1960s. Pieranunzi also adds in some of his own compositions alongside the maestro’s including his own ‘Waltz for a Future Movie’ on the second disc and these are well matched. The jauntily rhythmic ‘I Malamondo’ is a strong highlight of a life affirming reissue, music for a 1964 documentary that saw its release only a couple of years after Morricone worked in Rome with Chet Baker. SG
Released on 7 April