Bruno Bavota: Out of the Blue
Bruno Bavota is a composer, yes, but his fifth album, Out of the Blue, suggests it might be more accurate to call him a songwriter whose instrumental pieces just happen to be free of vocals. Certainly the Neapolitan pianist's neo-classical material is refined, yet its lyrical and romantic qualities lend it an accessibility that makes it connect immediately with the listener. It doesn't hurt, either, that his music exudes a pronounced singing quality that renders it all the more likable.
It's important to emphasize that there's nothing calculated or cynical about Bavota's approach. Listeners familiar with his earlier releases will confirm that the harmonious tone of Out of the Blue is very much consistent with the style with which he's become associated. His is a life-affirming sound, one that embraces the beauty of the natural world and looks with genuine affection upon the people within it.
Though modest in length, each song-like setting is rich in melody, its themes articulated and enunciated with clarity. Bavota's music is consonant and pretty, more white keys than black one might say, and while feelings of melancholy, ennui, and nostalgia aren't foreign to his compositions, they're free of despair. The influence of minimalism is audible in a number of pieces, “Lovers” and “Beyond the Clouds” to cite two examples, but Bavota's music is hardly governed by the style, minimalism being but one element within a larger blend.
In line with his expansive vision, the thirteen songs don't feature solo piano only, though the instrument is the primary one. Bavota also contributes guitar (acoustic and electric) and live electronics, and is joined by cellist Michael Nicolas (ICE, Brooklyn Rider) and violinist J. Freivogel (Jasper String Quartet) on the album. Such resources help Bavota realize the majestic vision of “Mountains,” emotional reach of “Breath,” and resonant bluster of “Passengers”; at the same time, he's as capable of evoking the seas's tidal movements in “Marea” using the piano alone.
If the fifty-minute album feels like the next stage in Bavota's evolution as an artist, it also signifies a major step in his career in being issued on the high-quality imprint Sono Luminus, which has supplemented the music on the release with a sixteen-page booklet of in-studio photographs and notes on the material by the composer.