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Enrico Pieranunzi Trio_NEW VISIONS.jpg

Enrico Pieranunzi  piano
Thomas Fonnesbæk  bass
Ulysses Owens Jr. drums

Recorded March 10, 2019
at The Village Recording, Copenhagen

Release date, 2019

Album Tracks

1 · Free Visions 1 3:25
2 · Night Waltz 3:20
3 · Anne Blomster Sang 6:47
4 · You Know 6:35
5 · Free Visions 2 2:03
6 · Free Visions 3 4:06
7 · Alt kan ske (more Valentines) 6:46
8 · Free Visions 4 4:08
9 · Brown Fields 5:07
10 · Dreams and the morning 4:13
11 · One for Ulysses 4:40
12 · Orphanes 5:10

Total time 56:23

The story behind this recording began in the summer of 2018 when Enrico Pieranunzi played with Ulysses Owens Jr., for the first time: two awesome concerts during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival that cast a breathtaking spell over the audience and an exciting new musical collaboration was born.

Enrico has been a popular guest in Copenhagen for over 30 years, where he has played with elite Danish musicians like Mads Vinding, Alex Riel and Jesper Lundgaard. In recent years he has collaborated closely in a duo context with the phenomenal bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk and the two, together, were soon able to achieve new heights of creativity.

Pieranunzi is an exceptional pianist, whether he’s playing solo, duo or trio. Melodically, harmonically, and not least of all rhythmically, he is “out of this world”. He has something you simply don’t hear with other musicians.
Part of the explanation is likely due to a unique combination of influences, from his deep roots in classical and Italian music to his collaboration with iconic film composer Ennio Morricone and jazz giants like Chet Baker and Art Farmer. The rest – and most importantly – is due to Enrico himself.

Yet, Enrico Pieranunzi is totally his own man. He knows what he’s looking for, and for that reason alone one must be cautious in suggesting with whom he should play. So when in the winter of 2017 I asked Enrico if he would like to play in a trio with Thomas and American drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., it didn’t come as a complete surprise when he said “no, thanks”. Still, I couldn’t help asking about Ulysses one more time because I had the feeling he was precisely the drummer whose playing would inspire both Enrico and Thomas. I was convinced that Ulysses would be a good counterpart, and that the match-up had to be tried out.

Ulysses in fact belongs to a great new generation of drummers who play on a level of energy and technical proficiency rarely found outside the United States and which isn’t always compatible with European musical norms.
But this doesn’t apply to Ulysses Owens Jr., whose incredible sensitivity and attentiveness allow him to fit into the European context. He is one of the warmest, most smiling individuals I’ve ever met. At the same time, beneath his affable exterior lurks the classic drive and strength of an American drummer – an essential cultural ingredient that jazz cannot do without.

Well, luckily, since Enrico is naturally curious, after a while I succeeded and he accepted to perform and record with Ulysses.

With New Visions, Enrico Pieranunzi demonstrates that at the age of 69 he is at the peak of his career. This recording bears witness to his greatness as a musician, and also how open he is in his musical approach. Chances are taken. It is a delight to hear this trio as it sets the standard for how jazz can be played, here and now.

Christian Brorsen, Executive Producer



Gershwin composed “An American in Paris” in 1928 not long after teaching himself the secrets of orchestration. This was perhaps why he decided to put those newly acquired skills to the test by having his new composition performed by an exceptionally large orchestra. I have to admit that the first time I looked at that colossal score my enthusiasm at the thought of transcribing it wavered for a moment: how was it going to be possible for three instruments to take on that mass of music? Daunted but not discouraged, I met the challenge head-on with the help, luckily, of two other invaluable sources: the excellent transcription for solo piano by Gershwin’s trusted associate William Daly, and the two-pianos version of the piece that Gershwin himself had written while scoring “An American in Paris” for orchestra. So, by comparing one source with the other, cutting periods, adding bars and inserting a brief cadenza of my own (“Gershwin-style”, naturally) shortly before the end, I was able to give this celebrated tone poem a completely new form.

“Rhapsody in Blue” was another seemingly impossible transcription. First of all, it had to be decided whether its well-known piano solo part, written in 1924 by a 26-year-old Gershwin, should be maintained intact (numerous cuts, present in the score itself, are usually made in performances of “Rhapsody in Blue” when the original version for piano and orchestra is played).

Having decided to leave this famous part entirely as it was written, I was faced with the following problem: whom to assign certain rather substantial orchestral passages given that I had only a piano, violin and clarinet at my disposal. The answer was obvious: to my own splendid instrument naturally, the piano, thereby doubling its workload (noblesse oblige...). My final step was to (re)orchestrate several passages that in the original score should be played by the orchestra and leave to my two excellent partners the honor/onus of performing them.

At first glance, Gershwin’s Preludes, which he wrote for solo piano, seemed not to present any particular transcription problems, being an apparently simple question of (re)distributing the melodic material among the three instruments; but the reality wasn’t so simple I discovered. In fact, when transcribing them I had to be attentive both to essential technical aspects (the extension and timbre of the instruments themselves) and, above all, to those formal elements that would highlight the narrative structure of the pieces.

Post Scriptum

No doubt should remain by now regarding the extraordinary genius of George Gershwin, even though this great American pianist and composer is still the object of many musicological misconceptions. If his undeniable genius were, however, to require any additional proof, well: this CD would be it. Gershwin’s music in fact has the unique ability to preserve his compelling vitality and powerful, unequivocal identity even when his works are performed by ensembles totally different than the original ones. That is precisely the case in “Play Gershwin”.

Enrico Pieranunzi

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