Tag Archives: Piano

Silvio Caroli: Flowing

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The album I would like to present today comes from Italian pianist and composer Silvio Caroli. His album “Flowing” is the result of a prize in a competition in Italy which he won and which allowed him to produce this record. It was released in December 2018 and found it’s way to my desk last month.

Silvio Caroli is a pianist, composer and educator from Lecce, Italy. He graduated as classical pianist in 2005. In 2012 he received a jazz scholarship at the Lecce State Conservatory and he also studied Economics and Finance at the  University of Salento. He works as a music teacher and sheet music arranger for musicnote.com. So we see, this is quite a talented and multi-facetted guy. The various influences, impressions and experiences are also reflected in this piano solo album.

The album starts with “Into the Dark”, a composition from the book “Microrock” for piano students from Christopher Norton, a composer from New Zealand. The arrangement from Silvio Caroli combines this short tune with elements from “Pines of Rome”, a composition by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. This combination works very well, the part from Christopher Norton is played very powerful while the Respighi’s part has this 19th-century impressionistic touch. A beautiful contrast.

“Martha”, the second tune is composed by Eliel Lazo, a cuban percussionist and friend of Silvio. This tune is a soft modal composition and Silvio Caroli uses this harmonic frame to improvise in Ravel or Debussy-style, which gives this tune again this impressionistic feeling, which I like very much.

The next song is called “Part of Your World” and is from the movie “The Little Mermaid”.  Silvio Caroli starts this pop-ballad softly and gentle but increases the intensity and brings the song to a dramatic peak inspired by Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

“Beirut” a composition by trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf comes next. Silvio explained to me: “This song really touched my heart, I imagine that this song speaks about love and suffering at the same time, and for that reason I dared to quote the theme of Schindler’s List by John Williams in my improvisation. A lot of people appreciate the performance of “Beirut”, and that was a real surprise for me, because it is the most simple arrangement that I’ve ever made”.

“And Sammy Walked In” by Michel Camilo is the next tune. Michel Camilo comes from the Dominican Republic and Silvio Caroli had the chance to lead workshops in Santo Domingo, so he met and played with musicians from that country. This tune is the tribute to his friends there and according to Silvio people go crazy (in Italy and the Dominican Republic) when he performs it in a concert. It is the most jazzy tune on the album and was also my favorite right from the start.

The last song on the album is “Porz Goret” by French multi-instrumentalist and composer Yann Tiersen. He is famous for the soundtrack to the movies “Amélie” and “Good Bye, Lenin!” This tune is a soft ballad in 3/4 meter beautifully performed and leaving us listeners in a melancholic mood.

What I like about this album is the very personal selection of songs and arrangements, combining elements from Jazz,  Caribbean, classical and film music. It looks like Silvio Caroli has found his individual voice and he created an impressive solo album. I am a big fan of impressionistic music and painting and this album is like an echo of this period that has been brought back into life.

If you want to hear more from Silvio you can follow him on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/silvio.caroli

The album is available on Spotify

Ryan Timoffee: Cuban Safari

Cuban Safari Front CD Cover

Today’s album comes from Ryan Timoffee, a piano player, composer and producer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He composed, arranged, produced and played piano and keyboards on his debut solo album “Cuban Safari” which was released on November 12.

The album features an all-star line-up of Cuban musicians from Camaguey, Havana, New York, Miami and Los Angeles:

  • Keyboards – Ryan Timoffee
  • Bass – Daymar Calvario
  • Percussion – Daniel Rodriguez
  • Saxophone – Yasel Barreras Sifontes
  • Trumpet – Randy Veitia Godinez
  • Flute – Javier Porta
  • Guitar – Dean Faulkner
  • Tres – Yuniel Jimenez
  • Trombone – Diana Osumy Sainz Mena
  • Guitar – Roman Lajara
  • Vocals – Yoandri Castro

Ryan explains on his website: “In 2017 I had been on a composing frenzy and everything I wrote had Cuban flavor. Since I returned from Cuba for the second time in January, I felt very connected to the music of the island and it was manifesting in everything I wrote. So my next step was to turn my Cuban-influenced themes into something real.”

The project became real, but the realization was not straight-forward, it turned out to be an adventure.

Ryan continues: “The band recorded at an unknown studio in the Castro compound in Havana. Police pay-offs, a jam-packed vehicle full of musicians, 14-hour sessions, a missing sound engineer and detours around the Hurricane-flooded streets of Old Havana brought the world this hard-fought victory for music.”

Nevertheless, the result of this fight is an excellent album that combines a wide range of authentic Cuban grooves like Timba, Son Montuno, Mozambique and Cha cha cha with Funk, Soul and Jazz elements, it is old-fashioned and modern at the same time.

The album starts with “Super Tren”, bass and horns play the melody very precise and accentuated. The first solo goes to Ryan on piano, he starts softly and relaxed, dynamics increase and prepare us for a trumpet solo and percussion fills. The band grooves perfectly, the horns are sharp, the trumpet plays high and we see that these guys know what they are doing.

“Bambino” comes next and continues in the traditional Salsa style, but the song gets it special touch from the electronic piano sound. The horn section is extended with Diana Osumy Sainz Mena on trombone.

“Bolo” has a steady funk groove dominated by Dean Faulkner on guitar. The solos go to saxophone and guitar, followed by a dialog between drums and bass.  A nice change in style and my first highlight on this album.

“Guajira” is going back to traditional Afro-Cuban music. Yuniel Jimenez on tres opens the song and plays an excellent solo. Randy Veitia Godinez on trumpet again shows his mastery and the song ends with vocals. Yoandri Castro as lead singer and Yasel Barreras Sifontes singing background carry us away.

“Bio Ritmo” is the next tune and this is another Salsa tune with a great piano solo, increasing intensity by the horn section and a steady pushing bass by an outstanding Daymar Calvario.

“Border Control” the next song, is a Cha cha cha. The first solo goes to Yasel Barreras Sifontes on saxophone, followed by Ryan Timoffee on piano and Daniel Rodriguez on percussion.

“Persigueme” introduces Javier Porta on flute and Ryan Timoffee on a Fender rhodes e-piano. A pushing groove by bass and percussion lay the foundation for a modern latin song. This is one of my favorites on the album.

“Fantasma” is a tune with a funny melody but returns to a classic Salsa song when the piano starts with the montuno. We hear a short bass solo, a piano solo and another great finale from the  trumpet.

“Cohiba Funk” is the second funk tune on this album, again with a grooving guitar by Dean Faulkner. The melody is played by the flute which gives the song its unique character. Ryan plays a nice solo on the Fender rhodes.

“Tapp Timba” is the last song on the album. It reminds me a little bit on fusion bands like the Brecker Brothers but with a Cuban percussion section.  Cool horns, a brillant guitar by Roman Lajaraa and funky slapping bass are the ingredients for another fantastic tune and a great finale of the album.

There is a Youtube video available for this song which I don’t want to keep back from you:

To sum it up, “Cuban Safari” is an excellent album with a lot of variety in it. The songs are perfectly arranged and Ryan Timoffee found a bunch of incredible musicians to record this album. The combination of traditional Cuban music, Jazz and Funk works perfectly and creates an entertaining and diverse album which I can highly recommend.

Some more background information about the musicians and the genesis of this album are found on Ryan’s website:
http://ryantimoffee.com/index.php/about/

And a playlist on Spotify to listen to the album: