Written by from NPR
Born in Milan on December 5, 1972, Stefano Bollani was playing piano by age six. He grew up listening to his father’s stride piano albums, and the pop music of Italian superstars Renato Carsone and Adriano Celentano.
At age eleven, Bollani enrolled as a piano student at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory in Florence. There he got strict classical training, complete with frequent wraps on the knuckles for playing wrong notes. While he was studying Prokofiev, Ravel and Milhaud, Bollani became interested in improvisation and the music of American bebop masters such as Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson and Bud Powell. Bollani supplemented his classical training with jazz lessons outside the conservatory, studying with Italian jazz notables including Luca Flores, Mauro Grossi and Franco D’Andrea. By age 15, while still a student, Bollalni was already accepting a variety of gigs as a sideman around Florence.
With his “Maestro” music diploma in hand, Bollani began his professional career, playing mostly with Italian popular bands. Bollani credits trumpeter Enrico Rava with steering him toward a musical life in jazz. The two began their collaboration in 1996 when Bollani joined Rava on tour. They have since recorded 15 albums together and Bollani remains one of Rava’s favorite pianists.
Bollani, now fully immersed in the international jazz scene, has performed with the best jazz players in his home country, including trumpeter Paolo Fresu, saxophonist Stefano Di Battista and singer Barbara Casini, as well as American masters such as Phil Woods, Lee Konitz and Pat Metheny. In 2007, both Downbeat and All About Jazz ranked Bollani among the best young pianists in the world.
Bollani’s latest release is O que sera with Brazilian bandolinist Hamilton de Holanda.
Originally recorded Feb. 6, 2006.