»His musicality is overwhelming, his wit beguiling and his delight in individuality nothing short of pathbreaking« – thus one review of jazz virtuoso Stefano Bollani. And it's true that when the Italian improvises on the piano, nothing is sacred. Bollani has never paid any heed to genre boundaries: with boundless powers of invention, he takes inspiration from modern jazz as much as from Italian folk songs, from Ravel and Gershwin, from Brazilian rhythms, tango and Frank Zappa. And from his infallible sense of humour…
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5 Questions for Stefano Bollani
Mr Bollani, what is your idea of a perfect summer day?
... Playin’ in Hamburg with my band.
You’re a classically-trained pianist and completed your degree with top marks. How did you end up in the jazz scene?
I always loved the idea of improvisation, the chance to do something different each time you put your hands on the instrument, to be yourself in the present tense.
Famous for being an incredibly versatile pianist, you perform Brazilian and Scandinavian songs, Ravel and Stravinsky with the same amount of enthusiasm as jazz and Frank Zappa. Do you get bored quickly?
Actually I love music, so I never get bored. And I don’t have the feeling I’m changin’ subject. My main interest is always the same: create something and communicate.
On stage you also like to joke about. Does good music need humour?
No, good music is not in need of anything else. But life is and will always be in need of humour.
You and your band bring »Napoli Trip« to the Elbphilharmonie, a programme which also was released on CD. »Napoli Trip« is a tribute to Naples and its musical history. With your virtuosic renditions of old folk songs, modern jazz tunes, popular songs like »O Sole Mio« and even your own compositions, it’s clear hear that you had a lot of fun putting together this menagerie. What attracted you to this programme?
I've always been in love with Napoli. They live on a volcan and you get the feeling that the energy of that city is special and strong. They have been able to resist to many dominations, living with the french people, the spanish people and the italians … they always remained themselves.