Archive for September, 2009

“Pianist Pacini Shines on New Solo Album”

Friday, September 25th, 2009

APRIL 2006 read below.
TONY PACINI-solo piano
Saphu Records
***** (5 stars)

“Get ready to look deeply into the soul of Portland pianist Tony Pacini as you listen to his brand-spanking-new solo piano CD.

Here he is, all alone with the total performance resting solidly on his broad shoulders. He is more than equal to the task. The recording was done from start to finish without any technical manipulation like splicing, editing or overdubbing. It’s Pacini pure as fresh snow but much warmer.

He begins with Ellington’s “Do Nothin’ Til You Hear From Me,” and then slides into a very thoughtful and pretty treatment of “Moonlight in Vermont.” Way before Pacini was born, there was a young man attending Grant High School who went on to world fame as a pianist-composer and vocal coach. Pacini takes one of Phil Moore’s compositions, “Eastside Westside” and displays all the joyfulness written into it.

Ah, but Pacini writes, also. He includes two of his own compositions among the 15 on the disc. The first is titled “Golden Boy” and is a pretty ballad with what could be described as an Ellingtonian influence. The second is “Goodbyes” and fittingly is the last song on the record. It is a somewhat somber piece, but far from morbid.

Pacini includes his luscious interpretations of standards like “If I Loved You,” “Skylark,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Body and Soul,” “Georgia” and others. Two of my favorites are “Emily” and “Come Sunday.”

This is a golden opportunity to become better acquainted with a pianist of depth and talent who honors those who wrote the songs he performs.”

-BY DICK BOGLE, The Skanner

“Tony Pacini Hits His Stride”

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Tony Pacini in concert
Friday, May 19th 2006 (Read below)
CD: “Piano A La Carte”-solo piano.
By Kyle O’Brien
-The Oregonian

“Something’s wonderfully retro about Tony Pacini’s piano playing. His copious talents evoke earlier eras of jazz, when bop ruled in the most swingin’ sense.

On his previous trio recording, Pacini can be heard courting the likes of Bill Evans, Gene Harris and Bud Powell, all the while developing his own voice.

On his second disc as a solo artist, “Piano a la Carte,” Pacini steps back even further into the jazz canon, bringing a renewed sense of melody to classic tunes.

Pacini is best known to Portland audiences as the pianist and musical director in the Mel Brown Quartet. His arrangements and stellar playing are featured on the quartet’s disc “Girl Talk.”

But Pacini is also a fine artist on his own. “Piano a la Carte” is an impressively mature slice of musical history, especially coming from a Gen-Xer. The disc, a solo piano outing as the title suggests, treats standard tunes with reverence and a tender touch, showing a softer side of Pacini’s persona while cementing him as one of the top pianists and arrangers on the Portland jazz scene.

“Piano a la Carte” was intended to be a trio album, but executive producer Gary Fantz helped persuade Pacini to fly solo, without technical overdubs or splicing. The result is a disc of warm beauty, lighthearted strides, lush chordal structures and memorable melodies, all brought together by Pacini’s sophisticated touch.

“Gary kind of suggested making pretty piano music — kind of salute a certain history of jazz piano,” Pacini said.

There are the obvious standards, like the drawn-out version of “Body “&” Soul” and the plaintive delivery of “Skylark.” But in between are gems such as the bluesy “Lullaby of the Leaves” and the lean-into swing of “Come Rain or Come Shine,” plus a couple of Pacini originals including the sweet ballad “Golden Boy.”

“In the studio I had fixed ideas about a handful of tunes, then I just played,” Pacini said.

What may be most impressive for fans is Pacini’s use of stride piano, that infectious old-time rhythmic style. He looked to Art Tatum and other pianists of an early era for inspiration on such tunes as “Eastside Westside.”

“I think my truest followers and fans have heard me do hints of (stride). But most of the jazz community thinks of me in one style, going for the bluesy-meets-bop kind of stuff; stride is hard to do. Guys like Dave Frishberg make it look so easy.”

While this is a new sound for Pacini, it’s something he had planned on doing eventually, even if not so soon in his solo career. Next up: a new Mel Brown Quartet album, and later a follow-up trio album. But first, a little quiet music.”

-KYLE O’BRIEN, The Oregonian.