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Parkers Mood by Stefano di Battista

Released January 2005 on Blue Note records, "Parker’s Mood" is a Charlie Parker tribute release from Italian saxophonist Stefano Di Battista. This is a collection of 10 classics, interpreted by this full band. Adding to Stefano’s sax are Kenny Barron on piano, Rosario Bonaccorso on bass, Herlin Riley on drums, and Flavio Boltro on trumpet.

Personally, I had not heard of Stefano before receiving this CD for review.

This release definitely falls into the classic jazz category, as most of the tracks are handled fairly faithfully to the originals. "Salt Peanuts" opens the disc with a bounce that is a fine blending of the sax and trumpet. Great work by Rosario, keeping up with the bass line. "Embraceable You" takes on the more "dinner music" vibe, with a soft rhythm section allowing Stefano to be featured on his alto sax. I enjoyed the soft feel, while it still kept my attention. "Night In Tunisia" captures the nice combination of classic jazz with the samba refrain. This stays close to the original arrangement, while adding enough room for the trumpet and sax to shine through. Herlin Riley does a great job of holding down the frequently changing groove. "Parker’s Mood" brings us a nice traditional blues feel, with the rhythm section taking an understated role. Stefano is upfront with the sax, but there’s plenty going on in the background. Kenny Barron gets his featured moment, and does a nice job of interpreting the original with his own flavor. "Confirmation" brings us back to the upbeat feel, with sax and trumpet sharing the melody. Piano, sax, and trumpet all get a turn at features, and everyone seems to have fun with the jazz swing. During this track, Flavio Boltro has a bit of an early Miles Davis era feel to his trumpet playing. This is a great example of traditional jazz. "Donna Lee" follows up with up-tempo jazz and smoking sax work. Stefano shines here, while the rest of the group keeps the track moving along. While sticking fairly close to the original, this still has some new life given by this group of excellent musicians. "Laura" takes on the slow samba feel, giving us a bit of a tropical feel. The only missing piece (in my opinion) is some vibes. Stefano does a nice job leading, while giving Kenny some room for piano solos. The rhythm section holds this one down in an understated mood. "Hot House" starts off with the muted trumpet of Flavio, and Stefano joins in to compliment. The rhythm section joins in, and the melody is handled by the unison trumpet and sax. While the track maintains an up-tempo samba feel, there is a hint of traditional jazz to the arrangement. "Conga Blues" is a great up-tempo traditional jazz piece, with piano taking the opening feature. The rhythm section really smokes on this one. When Stefano comes in, we are treated to that extra topping of excellent lead alto sax. Everyone is going 100% on this one, as we even get a brief bass solo from Rosario. Short and sweet, and ends a bit too soon for my taste. "Round Midnight" closes out the release, with a nice soft ballad. A slow tempo shuffle allows the dynamics to shine through. Kenny’s piano solo adds a nice balance to Stefano’s lead sax. This is a fine choice for an ending track to a solid release.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this release, and would recommend it to any fan of classic alto saxophone jazz. Not only is this an excellent introduction to the genius of Charlie Parker, but it also introduces us to a great talent that many may not have heard of. A good selection of classics, with just the right amount of personal touch added. I say pick this one up, while available.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Stefano di Battista
  • CD Title: Parkers Mood
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Tracks: Salt Peanuts*, Embraceable You, Night In Tunisia*, Parker’s Mood, Confirmation*, Donna Lee, Laura, Hot House*, Congo Blues, ‘Round Midnight
  • Musicians: Stefano di Battista (alto & soprano saxophone), Flavio Boltro (trumpet)*, Kenny Barron (piano), Rosario Bonaccorso (bass), Herlin Riley (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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