Ivo AntogniniWhat a lovely album. Ivo Antognini’s first U.S. release is refreshing and original. His piano playing is clean, unique and heartfelt. All but one of these brilliant songs was composed by Ivo. The album dances from beginning to end with interesting arrangements. Each song is a different experience using a myriad of instruments. While this album is predominantly jazz in style, he brings in Brazilian influences and vocals that are mesmerizing and enchanting. Pair this music with the 2004 Prosecco di Valdobbiadene “Crede” from the Bisol wine estates. The wine is a brilliant yellow enhanced by numerous minute and persistent bubbles. There is a note of fruitiness and scents of wildflowers. As far as Proseccos go, this is one of the finest.

The album opens up with Ivo’s sensitive and emotional piano playing, then the band comes in on the title track and my favorite song, “Feggri Mou,” which in Greek means “moon of mine.” I love the Brazilian feel and artistic vocals of Oskar Boldre. The use of the accordion adds a color that is unexpected and perfectly complimentary.

Moving along, “Take the Happy Train” is another soothing piece that builds slowly. Oskar Boldre lends his vocal talents, again, and when he starts scatting he shows a uniquely artistic way of coloring the music, mixing standard style jazz scatting with Brazilian bends and inflections. “360” once again opens with Ivo caressing the piano and the light and intricate drumming of Silvano Borzacchiello, and Stefano Dall’ora on double bass. Then, the flugelhorn played by Marco Brioschi comes in playing a beautiful melody. This song is also one of my favorites, running a close second to the title track.

“Did” introduces a basset horn with piano and almost a Middle-Eastern style vocal interpretation, which lends to a very interesting mix of vocal styles. The accordion is brought in again for color. In the middle of the song, we are once again treated to Ivo’s beautiful solo piano playing. Mixing jazz and modern classical harmonies with mood and heartfelt intent is typical of his style on the entire album.

The music never gets above a whisper as it quietly lifts you through a sea of positive emotions and peaceful feelings. As the album winds up, “Blue Difference” has a light-hearted swing feel and is the most traditional sounding jazz tune on the project. Bringing soprano sax, tenor sax and trombone together for the final statement leaves an impression of the song on your heart. And what a perfect wine companion the Bisol Prosecco is, with its hint of creamy mouse, pears and lemons, leaving you with a lingering taste in your mouth of dry, citrus and elegant bubbles – much like the memorable elegance of Ivo’s “Feggri Mou.”

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