Mario Romano is a jazz pianist who was born in Buenos Aires, and is based in Toronto (where he also co-founded a successful real estate development company). His new release, The Journey So Far, is a compilation of some of his previous recordings, the focus being on material that he composed. There is a good mix of instrumental tracks and vocal numbers, the latter featuring several different talented vocalists. There is joy and warmth to Mario Romano’s playing, and the music on this disc provides a much needed respite during this stressful and uncertain time.
The Journey So Far opens with “And If You Please,” a beautiful, romantic number featuring the magnificent Jackie Richardson on vocals. “And if you please/Would you love me forever/Make this dream our endeavor.” In addition to an excellent vocal performance and some pretty and gentle work on piano, this track features a nice lead by William Sperandei on trumpet. There is also a string section, arranged by Jim McGrath. Mario Romano then changes gears with “Dina Dance,” which has a fairly funky opening and a delicious rhythm that seems to tell us things are good. Ah yes, let that Latin rhythm move you onto and across the dance floor and into the night. Larnell Lewis is on drums, and Maninho Da Costa is on percussion. There is also a wonderful lead by Roni Eytan on harmonica. The heart of the piece, however, is Magda Gianoukas’ adorable vocal performance. “And as you wake up to the sound/Of rhythm all around/This song begins to play.” The group jams and grooves on this one, and the results are joyous.
“Those Damn I Love Yous” is a
gorgeous number, this one coming from the 2010 release by the Mario Romano
Quartet, Valentina. Joining the
quartet on this track is vocalist Kristy Cardinali, who delivers a moving and
somewhat haunting performance. “The one
that made so many dreams come true/And now your love speaks of goodbyes/So sad
and blue/This can’t be you.” This track also features some excellent work
on piano, helping to make this one of my personal favorites. Then interestingly
we get a solo accordion piece, “Encanto De Mi Nina,” the only track on this
disc on which Mario Romano plays that instrument. This one has its own
particular beauty. You might be surprised by how this accordion piece is able
to draw you in. That’s followed by “Si Tu Quesieras,” this one featuring a
passionate vocal performance by Adis Rodriguez, and some wonderful and
expressive guitar work by Elmer Ferrer.
“Via Romano” is an exciting piece featuring some absolutely fantastic stuff by Roberto Occhipinti on bass. And perhaps that is no wonder, as Occhipinti composed this one. This track comes from the Mario Romano Quartet’s Valentina album, and each of the musicians delivers here. There is a great lead on sax by Pat Labarbera, and of course some impressive work on piano, but I am most taken with Mark Kelso’s work on drums, which keeps this one moving and popping, and keeps us engaged. That’s followed by a cheerful rendition of “You’re My Everything,” the disc’s first cover, having a lighter vibe, and with a certain swing. That lead on piano is a total delight. And check out Robert Occhipinti’s work on bass. There is a lot of joy in the playing. This track in particular ought to help you push aside your worries and fears for a time. This track was originally included on Mario Romano’s 2017 release, Fenyrose Non Dimenticar. It is followed by another track from that album, and another cover, “Non Dimenticar.” This one has such a great feel to it, it has me smiling from beginning to end, and that is just what I need from music these days. I am especially taken with Mario Romano’s lead on piano. The album concludes with an instrumental rendition of its opening track, “And If You Please,” William Sperandei’s beautiful work on trumpet more in the spotlight here.
CD Track List
- And If You Please
- Dina Dance
- Those Damn I Love Yous
- Encanto De Mi Nina
- Si Tu Quesieras
- Via Romano
- You’re My Everything
- Non Dimenticar
- And If You Please (Instrumental
The Journey So Far was released on October 9, 2020 through Modica Music.