select upcoming performances

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italy

September 17, 2017
Cortile SanGiorgio-Ortigia
Siracusa, ITALY

September 19, 2017
Teatro Garibaldi-Modica
(Ragusa Jazz Festival)
Modica, ITALY

September 23, 2017
Padre Pio
Pietrelcina, ITALY

israel

November 19, 2017
The Zone-Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, ISRAEL

November 21, 2017
Conservatory-Jerusalem
Tel Aviv, ISRAEL


 

japan

TBA

CANADA

December 3, 2017
Koerner Hall
Toronto, Ontario

september 1, 2017: new album release for MARIO ROMANO "FENYROSE"

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Track Listing

1. Sunshine Of Your Love (Clapton/Bruce)
2. Hymn to Padre Pio (Mario Romano)
3. Non Dimenticar (Harry Warren)
4. If I Should Lose You (Ralph Rainger)
5. You're My Everything (Gino Redi)
6. Estate (Bruno Martino)
7. Good Night I Love You Bye (performed and composed by Nahre Sol)
8. Encanto de Mi Niña (performed and composed by Mario Romano)

FEATURED MUSICIANS:

MARIO ROMANO (PIANO, ACCORDION)
PAT LABARBERA (SAXOPHONE)
WILLIAM SPERANDEI (TRUMPET)
ROBERTO OCCHIPINTI (BASS)
MARK MCLEAN (DRUMS)
*NAHRE SOL (PIANO)
 

LISTEN

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Mario is a beautiful cat. His apologetic introduction was hilarious, and his playing touches the heart.
— Stanley fefferman, opus one review
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select previous performance highlights


Nov 5, 2012 - NAHARIYA Concert Hall

Nov 4, 2012 - TEL AVIV Museum, 27 Shaul Ha-Melekh Blvd, Tel Aviv

Nov 2, 2012 - HAIFA Auditorium Haifa, 138 Ha-Nassi Blvd, Haifa

Oct 31, 2012 - ASHDOD Concert Hall, Superjazz Ashod Festival

Jun 25, 2012 - Natalie Cole at the Toronto Jazz Festival Sony Centre For The Performing Arts

Jul 10, 2012 - Pescara Jazz festival

Jul 20, 2012 - Atina Jazz festival

Oct 6, 2011 - Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY

Jul 21-31, 2011 - Atina Jazz Festival, Italy

Jun 27, 2011 - Koerner Hall, Toronto Jazz Festival, Canada

Jul 23–29, 2010 - Atina Jazz Festival, Italy

 

MARIO ROMANO QUARTET - VALENTINA (ALBUM)

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Featuring Artists

Mario Romano: Piano
Roberto Occhipinti: Bass
Mark Kelso: Drums
Pat LaBarbera: Tenor sax

Track 01 - Night in Tunisia: Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Paparelli.
Published by Universal Music Corp., Arranged by Mario Romano.

Track 02 - Norwegian Wood: Lennon/McCartney.
Published by Sony, ATV, Arranged by Mario Romano.

Track 03 - Autum Leaves: Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer, Jaques Pervert.
Published by Morely Music Co., Arranged by Mario Romano & Peter Cardinali.

Track 04 - Nardis: Miles Davis.
Published by Jazz Horn Music Co., Arranged by Mario Romano.

Track 05 - Those Damn I love Yous: Mario Romano.
Published by Cardster Music Co., Vocal by Kristy, String Arrangements by Peter Cardinali.

Track 06 - On Green Dolphin Street: Bronislaw Kaper, Ned Washington.
Published by EMI Music Publishing, Arranged by Mario Romano & Mark Kelso.

Track 07 - Windows: Chick Corea.

Track 08 - Via Romano: Roberto Occhipinti.
Published by Modica Music.

Track 09 - Someday My Prince Will Come: Frarnk Churchill, Larry Morey.
Published by Bourne Co., Arranged by Mario Romano, Roberto Occhipinti, Peter Cardinali.

listen

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CONCERT REVIEWS AND ARTICLES

Natalie Cole with Mario Romano Quartet @ TD Toronto Jazz Festival reviewed by Stanley Fefferman

Heavy weather in New York delayed her flight forcing Natalie Cole to miss her TD Jazz concert, but a houseful of fans loyal to Mario Romano remained to hear his Quartet open and close the show.

Mario is a beautiful cat. His apologetic introduction was hilarious, and his playing touches the heart.

The Quartet with Mark McLean subbing for Mark Kelso on drums plus trumpeter William Sperandei did a set that made me forget the Unforgettable One. Mario’s arrangements bop in from far left field and make a lovely surprise when they land on the melody, as in “Autumn Leaves,” and his “Norwegian Wood” is fabulous. Roberto Occhipinti opened “The Sunshine of Your Love” with a masterful, enigmatic bass solo. Pat Labarbera’s monster tenor sax weighed in wonderfully on “St. Dominic” and I remember Sperandei’s work on the closing number “Non Dimenticar,” which Nat King Cole reminds us means “Don’t forget you are (my darling).



Atina Jazz, il concerto di Mario Romano ed Enrico Rava grande occasione per il nostro territorio commentano Abbruzzese e Abbate.

'Ho accolto con favore l'invito degli organizzatori di Atina Jazz, kermesse musicale consolidata che negli anni ha imposto Atina, perla di straordinaria bellezza incastonata tra i Monti della Valcomino, come palcoscenico per i piu' grandi interpreti del jazz contemporaneo sia italiani che internazionali'. Lo ha affermato oggi il Presidente del Consiglio Regionale Mario Abbruzzese partecipando alla Cerimonia inaugurale di Atina Jazz.

'A loro, oltre al sostegno che il Consiglio regionale ha voluto accordare- ha affermato Abbruzzese – va anche il mio plauso per esser riusciti a trasformare negli anni questo festival in un vero e proprio evento seguito sia dai piu’ convinti Jazzofili, sia dagli amanti della musica di tutta Italia.Amici che troveranno nel carnet di eventi proposto dagli organizzatori,tra le contaminazioni preziose ed i nuovi sentieri musicali, anche un’impareggiabile offerta enogastronomica che arricchira’ la loro permanenza in Ciociaria rendendola sicuramente indimenticabile'.

'Il mio auspicio – ha concluso il Presidente – e’ che questa iniziativa possa continuare a crescere, imponendosi anche internazionalmente come tappa obbligata ed imprescindibile per tutti gli amanti del Jazz. Atina merita una simile vetrina internazionale e la regione lazio anche in futuro fara’ di tutto per continuare a garantirla'

Concerto nel segno della musica di qualità quello ospitato ieri sera ad Atina, nell’ambito della XXVII edizione della rassegna musicale Atina Jazz 2012.

Dopo l'apprezzato e qualificato preludio della manifestazione, che ha spaziato tra il mare di Terracina e i monti di Fiuggi e Sora, ieri sera, Atina Jazz è tornata nella sua dimora naturale e storica di Piazza Marconi, nel centro della città dedicata a Saturno.

Una performance di straordinaria intensità quella offerta al numeroso e appassionato pubblico, che si è riversato nella Valle di Comino, da Mario Romano quartet feat ed Enrico Rava. Talentuoso pianista jazz, Mario Romano ha mostrato tutte le sue doti con un repertorio che si è ispirato sia al genere tradizionale che alle sonorità contemporanee. Una esibizione di un’eleganza unica, unita ad una passione ed energia straordinarie. Degno accompagnatore del pianista, Enrico Rava, trombettista dal suono caldo e inconfondibile. Un mix di talenti per una serata di grandissimo appeal artistico.

Presenti al concerto numerosissime autorità: l'amministrazione comunale di Atina al completo, con il sindaco Lancia e l'assessore Di Paolo, il presidente del consiglio regionale del Lazio, Mario Abbruzzese, l’assessore provinciale alla cultura Antonio Abbate, molti sindaci dei comuni della Valle e l’On. Anna Teresa Formisano.

"La rassegna "Atina Jazz Festival" – ha dichiarato Abbate – rappresenta uno dei momenti di produzione culturale più elevata nella nostra provincia. Una formula di successo che coniuga l'eccellenza della musica interpretata da artisti noti a livello internazionale, con le bellezze e le ricchezze paesaggistiche del territorio. Esempio tangibile di quel turismo culturale, sempre auspicato come volano di sviluppo, che la manifestazione jazzistica di Atina ha saputo cogliere e compiutamente realizzare. Di questo successo, della bontà del progetto, il merito va ascritto alle capacità della direzione artistica ed alla sensibilità degli sponsor e delle rete istituzionale che collabora alla buona riuscita dell'evento.

Particolarmente suggestiva, poi – ha continuato l'assessore provinciale – la scelta per l'edizione 2012 del prologo in terra pontina, così come le incursioni a Fiuggi e Sora, a suggellare un evento che travalica i confini locali e che costituisce, senza dubbio, strumento di crescita per l'intera area del Basso Lazio.

Anche la Provincia di Frosinone, e il mio assessorato in particolare, patrocinano l'evento. Infatti, "Atina Jazz Festival" costituisce uno dei pilastri del cartellone dei Grandi Eventi, quel contenitore di eccellenze che l’Amministrazione provinciale ha scelto quale brand dell’offerta culturale del territorio.

L'augurio agli organizzatori, all'amico Massimo Ghini, è quello di continuare lungo la strada intrapresa, indicata con straordinaria lungimiranza dall' Avv. Fortuna che questa rassegna ideò".



Mario Romano e il cielo stellato sopra di lui.

Gli incontri non avvengono mai per caso: conoscere Mario Romano era scritto nel destino di Attina Jazz e suo personale, destini che si sono incrociati inaspettatamente seguendo uno stesso percoso di "rinascita". Mi spiego meglio: dopo più di venti anni senza toccare il piano, Mario Romano da qualche anno a questa parte è tornato al jazz con un'eleganza ed un'energia che possono essere in un certo senso paragonati alla vitalità e alla forza ritrovata dal Festival nello stesso arco temporale. Coincidenza? Non possiamo saperlo, sappiamo solo che ospitare anche per questa edizione 2011 ad Atina Jazz il concerto del pianista italo canadese, in un concerto così suggestivo come quello del Sagrato della Cattedrale di Castelpetroso, la sera 5 agosto, sarà davvero speciale.



L'evoluzione di un successo

Questa sera, a Castelpetroso, l'ultimo grande evento della kermesse musicale
Il grazie di Atina Jazz al suo pubblico.
"Condividere per crescere" questo è stato lo slogan della XXVI edizione di AtinaJazz Festival, che si è svolta ad Atina dal 21 al 31 luglio, anticipata da due splendide anteprime a Gaeta, e che si concluderà oggi a Castelpetroso, con il concerto di Mario Romano Quintet. La storica manifestazione, organizzata dal 2008 dalla Comag Sales, con la direzione artistica di Maurizio Ghini ed Elide Di Duca, è ormai annoverata tra le più longeve manifestazioni estive e grazie al profondo restyling degli ultimi tre anni ha saputo riconquistare un ruolo di rilievo tra i tantissimi festival jazz che ogni anno si svolgono in Italia.



Mario Romano chiude il lungo calendario di appuntamenti con un evento imperdibile

Da Toronto un talento che non ha paragoni
Sonorità che fondono il genere tradizionale e l'ispirazione contemporanea
Mario Romano: da Toronto a Castelpetroso, il jazz d'autore di un grande uomo. Stasera, alle 20, presso l'Auditorium di Castelpetroso, nei pressi della splendida Cattedrale, si sarà un evento davvero speciale, il concerto del pianista italo canadese Mario Romano (nella foto) e del suo quintetto, che chiuderà la XXVI edizione di Atina Jazz, festival internazionale che ha scelto l'artista per rappresentare al meglio l'appendice dell'estate 2011.



Mario Romano Quintet per chiudere l'evento

Il pianista italocanadese torna ad incantare il pubblico della kermesse
Mario Romano: da Toronto a Castelpetroso il jazz è d'autore. Domani alle 20 nell'auditorium della cittadina in provincia di Isernia l'ultimo appuntamento dell'Atina Jazz Festival 2011 con il concerto del pianista italo canadese e del suo quintetto. Insiemme adaltri bravissimi musicisti, il veterano ederede naturale e quasi spirituale di Coltrane Pat LaBarbera al sax, il contrabbassista di origini siciliane Roberto Occhipinti ed il giovane ma già navigato Mark Kelso alla batteria, Mario Romano era già stato ospite Jo scorso anno ad Atina Jazz, con un concerto elegante, sobrio, proponendo i brani dell'ultimo disco dal titolo "Valentina", omaggio alla figlia (deliziosa) dello stesso pianista.



Building The Roman Dream

In 2010, the ICCO’s Executive Director, Corrado Paina began a series of interviews with people of leadership and vision in the Italian Canadian community. Mario Romano is a natural subject for this series because his financial, artistic and philanthropic contributions to our local and national life have left a permanent record of engagement. As the founder and president of the Castlepoint Group, he is one of the GTA’s most recognizable and successful developers. As a philanthropist, he has contributed to many worthy causes over the years including the “Galleria Italia,” the recent addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario. As an accomplished jazz pianist, he recently released the critically acclaimed “Valentina,” the first CD of the Mario Romano quartet, featuring jazz veterans Pat Labarbara, Mark Kelso and Roberto Occhipinti. Romano remains that rare kind of entrepreneur who understands that all successful business enterprises have a cultural dimension.

Paina: To begin simply, where is our community going?
Romano: It’s taking the natural trajectories of the immigrant experience, from basically the survival mode and the condition of frontier conquest, to becoming citizens in the process of identifying with the new country. Now we’re actually quite a ways ahead, in that we have, as a community, achieved economic power. We’re very prominent, I think, in the world of business, we’re very prominent in the world of charity— the Italian community does a lot of great things, we’re always in the forefront, along with the Jewish community, the Anglo community. We have the fire power, we have the Italian tradition of culture, we have the economic power. We don’t have the consciousness that goes with it. If you look at the Jewish community, they’re ahead of us in that sense—mind you, to be fair—their diaspora, their immigrating experience comes before ours. We’ll get there. It will obviously and hopefully happen through the communion of the arts. Read more ...



Mario Romano / Valentina (輸入盤CD)

The Mario Romano Quartet features legendary sax man, Pat LaBarbera, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, drummer Mark Kelso and Mario Romano on piano. There's an elegantly understated quality in Romano's fluent playing that evokes the legendary McCoy Tyner. The quartet's recent tour included 4 sold-out shows at the famed Atina Jazz Festival in Italy.



Mario Romano Quartet

Canadian pianist Mario Romano has an interesting history in jazz. An up-and-coming performer in the 1970s, he took a hiatus from the jazz scene when his Toronto construction business became a big success. Now in 2010, he returns to the scene with the release of Valentina.
Playing with gusto and creativity, he seems not to have missed a beat over the years; still, at the keyboard, Romano owes a lot to seventies contemporaries including McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea.


 

Appearing with him here are three prominent Toronto musicians. American expat tenor saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, hails from a prominent family of jazz players, including trumpeter John LaBarbera and drummer Joe LaBarbera. Drummer Mark Kelso—also an expat, but from Ireland—is an energetic presence in the manner of Art Blakey or Jeff "Tain" Watts. Bassist Roberto Occhipinti is a well-known Canadian sideman, co-founder of NOJO—the Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra—and works regularly with Cuban musicians, bringing a Latin flair to this group.

 

The quartet regularly works together and it sounds like it. With a solid, cohesive sound, the selections are mostly Romano arrangements of jazz classics, but also includes two originals; one, Romano's "Those Damn I Love Yous," features guest vocalist Kristy Cardinal, who sings with a pure, pleasant voice.

 

The band plays in a hard-driving, straight-ahead fashion, reminiscent of hard-boppers such as Horace Silver and Blakey's Jazz Messengers, with Kelso's pyrotechnics driving the up-tempo numbers. LaBarbera is also a commanding presence, in the authoritative manner of Lew Tabackin.

 

The opener, "Night in Tunisia," is introduced by LaBarbera's brawny sax in an extended cadenza, followed by group's breakneck pace as it races headlong to Kelso's flashy solo, effectively setting off the Lennon/McCartney classic, "Norwegian Woods," which takes on a reflective aura underlined by Romano's repetitive chords, warming to a fiery climax, featuring LaBarbera's blazing tenor. Occhipinti is integral throughout the CD, but is on solo display in the bassist's "Viva Romano."

 

The closer is a beautiful rendition of "Someday My Prince Will Come," showing that LaBarbera can handle a ballad in the simple way of a John Coltrane.

 

With Romano back in the woodshed, hopefully some more well-honed recordings can be anticipated.
(from All About Jazz)



Valentina, Mario Romano Quartet 2010

Like all quartets, the Mario Romano Quartet has a solid foundation. Its leader, Toronto–born pianist Mario Romano, straddles success in both Italian and Canadian communities and is best known in both these communities for his success in real estate. Despite his penchant for land, he has spent a significant amount of time working on less tangible pursuits, and this release of the Mario Romano Quartet marks the beginning of Romano’s career as a bandleader. He spent four decades pursuing music as a hobby, despite an education in piano from both the Royal Conservatory and York University. His quartet sees the support of three other equally skilled Canadian musicians: American–born saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, drummer Mark Kelso, and bassist Robert Occhipinti. Though all are equal in talent, the remaining three members of the quartet add a cachet that can only come with fame.

 

Valentina is Romano’s first foray as a bandleader, and the quartet’s first recording as a unit, but you’d never know from the way they tackle the standards. The result is an album that slips on easily but manages to remain beautiful, as the tunes resonate with familiarity but the new interpretations keep them from sounding tired. Their version of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” is a liberal interpretation, and the familiarity of the tune creeps up on you in the same way you might recognize a longtime friend after a few moments. There is a delightfully syncopated rhythm that is entirely jazz, and it is the voice of Romano’s seemingly effortless and fluid piano that takes the place of the original’s vocals for a cool and collected number that you might know all too well.

 

Though the record features mostly covers, there is one Romano original. “Those Damn I Love Yous,” which features vocals by Toronto’s jazz vocalist Kristy Cardinali, stands strong against old favorites. Cardinali’s voice has a tonality, wistfulness, and resonance that rings closer to the sounds of Sinatra than Fitzgerald, complete with pianos reminiscent of the steadfast player who stays at the bar until the last pair of lovers have moved on. The album closes with the sweetly romantic “Someday My Prince Will Come.” The song has connotations of fairy tales, and the tenderness of the saxophone keeps it affectionate without being saccharine. Completely unhurried and without vocals, the wind instrument takes the place of pensive vocals, and the laid-back, conversational piano and gentle hiss of brush on drums makes for a tune that’s perfect for slow dancing on a warm summer night.




Realty mogul return to music   By Ashante Infantry
Published On Tue Nov 09 2010 - Toronto Star.

It's a rare measure by which Mario Romano would not be considered a success.

As founder and president of the Castlepoint Group, he oversees a multimillion-dollar development empire behind buildings in New York, Philadelphia and L.A., as well as landmark Toronto structures, such as Palace Place on Lake Shore Blvd. W. and the Daniel Libeskind-designed L Tower being erected at the Sony Centre.

And just last week, it was announced that the company was among a consortium to acquire the consequential Home Depot lands at Cherry St. and Lake Shore Blvd. E., with designs for retail, condo, hotel and office space.

But Romano’s father, Modesto, a hobby musician who raised four children on a labourer’s salary while his wife washed dishes in a hospital, was little impressed by the fortune made by his only son, who dropped out of post-secondary music studies in the mid-'70s.

"He was happy to see the family doing well, but he always used to tell me ‘You’re a bum!’ It was all music for him. As he got older, he got Parkinson’s and there were times he could barely breathe, but he would still play the harmonica. He always told me, ‘At the end, you’ll understand I’m right: it’s music.’

"Music was the paradigm in our family. When we first came to a Canada, we lived in a place with no furniture — there were the beds, a table and chairs, and an old broken-down TV my aunt gave us — but there was every instrument you could think of. Cheap, but there were guitars, drums, piano, violins. My father would’ve worked 20 hours a day just as long as he could to see me play music."

When his dad died at 85 in 2008, quickly followed by the death of his mother and split from his wife of 30 years, Romano started playing the piano again. He practised his way to public performances, here and in Italy, and this week released his first CD, Valentina.

The collection of standards, such as “Night in Tunisia” and “Autumn Leaves,” features top Toronto players, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, drummer Mark Kelso and saxist Pat LaBarbera on Romano’s hip and surprisingly complex arrangements.

But when it comes to his eloquence with the 88 keys, the 59-year-old leader, who has yet to make a full-time return to music, demurs.

"I used to be not too bad on the piano, with a lot more agility,” said the Argentinean-born Italian, who moved to Canada with his family at 13. He studied at the Royal Conservatory and in the inaugural jazz programs at York University and Humber College where classmates included guitarist Lorne Lofsky and drummer Vito Rezza, respectively. He also played the downtown club circuit.

The highlight of Romano’s promising music career was making a live recording with late trumpeter Freddie Stone alongside LaBarbera and bassist Dave Young at CBC Radio.

And then, as he puts it, “a force of destiny” intervened.

"I wanted a Steinway piano,” he explained during an interview at Castlepoint’s Maple headquarters. “And a friend said, ‘Give me some money, I’m going to make you some money.’ I borrowed $10,000 from my dad; I didn’t even tell him the truth. I invested it with this guy, he put a land deal together and it went sour. I could not face my father and tell him I didn’t have his money.”

Desperate to recoup the funds, Romano sought out King City’s mayor at home. Taken by his moxie and facility with her living-room piano, she counselled him through the municipal morass.

"I got the land approved. Not only did I make enough money to pay back my dad and buy a used Steinway, I made $5,000 to $6,000 extra. Now I think I’m a genius."

Thus was music deferred for 35 years.

"It hit me when my father passed away: I now own seven pianos (including a 9-foot Fazioli once played by Herbie Hancock) and yet I didn’t play; and that was the tragedy. I was swallowed in the objectivity of business."

Romano, devoid of formal business training, credits his improvisation skills for giving him the knack of loophole-spotting and deal-making that commercial and residential development requires.

“Leave it to a jazz musician to find an alternative, or find a note that cuts through three chord progressions at once without anybody noticing,” he explained.

“Without realizing it, it is music that built this real estate empire. If musicians can transpose the sense of harmony, the sense of dynamics, the senses of time and rhythms that they have, and objectify them in the paradigm of business, they would all be super rich; but that transition is the hardest thing to do."

The only time the media-shy, but philosophical and chatty Romano flinched was when I asked if any of his four children, ages 16 to 29, whose current interests include philanthropy, modelling, music, philosophy and literature, will join the family-helmed business.

“They tried it and they didn’t like it,” he sighed. “For me, it’s a heartbreak, obviously, but I was always taught to follow your heart."



 

Mario Romano Quartet's VALENTINA: CD review by Stanley Fefferman
Tuesday, November 16, 2010.

 

Mario Romano and his crew on this very listenable album show deep musical roots. Tunes written in the 40's and made famous in recordings of the 50's and 60's. Solid bop arrangements by Mario himself, who is at home with Miles, and Coltrane, Dizzy and Bill Evans. Mario's own style at the keyboard owes a lot to McCoy Tyner's vocal approach to soloing that comes down through Chick Corea.

 

It's a Beatles tune that stops the show for me—a 7 minute take on Lennon/McCartney's "Norwegian Wood." Listening to the languid introduction for the first time, you don't hear the melody coming, so it's a delightful surprise when the bass-line goes uptempo and Mario's rich right hand on the keyboard brings in a swinging melody line with some cool complexities and a touch of blue. Very original.

 

Many of the tracks are ornamented by Latin rhythms. Pat LaBarbera on sax is often breath-taking, if you listen for it. Roberto Occhipinti, who wrote one of the tunes—"Via Romano"— is a pillar of strength throughout the album, and Mark Kelso’s work on the drum-kit is always tasteful. Kristy Cardinal's pure voice does right by Mario's own tune "Those Damn I Love Yous."

 

The album will repay many listenings. I know. I've done it. There is also an inspiring backstory to this CD if you care to search for it.



 

Sultry Jazzy Nights
Mario Romano Quartet, Valentina
Sunday, November 7, 2010.
 

Opening with the chestnut, Night in Tunisia, Mario Romano Quartet brings a "Latin tinge" to the debut album, Valentina. It's hard to imagine that a man who runs a construction company in Toronto, Mario Romano also possesses an extraordinary gift as a pianist. In fact, the press notes cite that Romano waited 40 years before following through on his passion for music. In a way that's a shame, given that jazz audiences waited 4 decades to enjoy Romano's musical gift. But on the other hand, he brings maturity, grace, and elegance to his debut album. Sometimes we just have to wait.

 

Romano's Latin-style piano playing is immersed in Pat LaBarbera's stunning tenor saxophone, Mark Kelso's syncopated drumming; and held down by Roberto Occhipinti's bass. The four musicians travel through mostly jazz standards such as Dizzy Gillespi's Night in Tunisia, the Beatles' Norwegian Wood, Jacques Pervert Autumn Leaves (perfect timing guys!), Miles Davis' Nardis and others. Romano and Occhipinti both contribute original songs to the classic mix.

 

The interpretations and arrangements feel spot on to me, with thick chunky Coltrane-like saxophone, Latin jazz piano, and a tight rhythm section. I'm a fan of melodic jazz, but I don't mind a few twists and turns, as long as the players return me to familiar territory. This quartet takes that more adventurous route, the one with notes hanging over a cliff's edge, a few wild hairpin turns, but then a return to safe ground, musically-speaking. The interpretation of Norwegian Wood follows this recipe, and I bet John Lennon turns over in his grave, asking why the Beatles' didn't take the more bohemian route.

 

The Autumn Leaves on this recording portrays a melancholic feeling (during the introduction), that would bring tears to Edith Piaf's eyes. The piano ripples along with a plaintiff saxophone which performs the melody, then the piano takes off with a Latin jazz groove along with drums and bass—gorgeous! Romano's original, Those Damn I Love Yous features album mate, Kristy (Cardinali) on vocals, and a lush string arrangement. Overall, this vibrant debut is going to turn heads and receive its share of kudos. But I have to ask, Mario Romano, why did you make us wait?



 

Mario Romano Quartet Valentina:
www.allaboutjazz.com
 

Mario Romano Quartet Valentino: Here's the setup: a successful real estate tycoon suddenly decides to revisit his original passion, music, and pulls in three of Canada's most prestigious jazz musicians and a top-notch producer to make his first record, one full of done-to-death standards. And you're thinking, this is probably going to be a very competent but very boring, vanity project album, right? You'd be wrong. Valentina, by real estate developer and pianist Mario Romano does get the expected lift from guys the caliber of Pat LaBarbera (tenor sax), Mark Kelso (drums), and Roberto Occhipitti (bass), but it's not just that. Romano is legit force on the piano. But the biggest thing going for the album are the arrangements. Sure, they follow pretty much the same chord progressions, but the tempos are more aggressive, the bass lines are often changed up and the players are putting in crisp, enthusiastic performances (Romano himself lets it fly on "On Green Dolphin Street"). A handful of originals find their way here, including Romano's "Those Damn I Love Yous," featuring the vocal talents of Kristy Cardinali. Vocal jazz plopped in the middle of instrumental jazz can often disturb the groove, but in this case, the genteel, "with strings" three minute piece functions as a fresh breather. So, no, Valentino ain't no vanity project. This is serious business. Seriously good, that is.



 

Mario Romano's love letter to Jazz
Leading developer returns to music with Valentina By Kerry Doole
Originally Published: 2010-11-21
 

The name of Mario Romano is well-known within the Italian-Canadian community in Toronto. As the president and founder of the Castlepoint Group, he is one of the most successful and important players in real estate development in the GTA (The L Tower is one of their projects) as well as one of our most generous and committed philanthropists. Romano is now attracting attention for his work in a completely different field: jazz.

 

As a young man, he showed huge potential as a jazz pianist. Back in the early'70s, Romano studied music composition and performance at York University, and his talent back then led to a CBC Radio recording session with the likes of local greats Freddie Stone, Pat LaBarbera, and Dave Young.

 

As he told Tandem in a recent interview, Romano's career plans were then shaped by what he poetically terms "a slap from the force of destiny. I went from the complete abstract, music, to the complete concrete, which is cement!"

 

Music played a huge role in Mario Romano’s upbringing. He was actually born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of Italian migrants. After 10 years in Argentina, the Romano family moved again, to Canada. Mario was encouraged to practice the piano in between middle school and working on construction sites alongside his father Modesto.

 

He also learned the accordion and a vast repertoire of Italian folk songs, and his disposition for jazz was sparked when his father brought home a used piano. "My father lived for music," Romano recalls. "When we moved here to a rented house, we had zero furniture, but we had instruments everywhere." His passion for music never diminished, and a few years back Romano began rededicating himself to the piano. "You cannot deny your heart," Romano explains. "When my father passed away [2008], he was trying to make me understand you have to follow your heart."

 

Public performances (including one at the 2009 Art of Jazz Festival in the Distillery District) were well-received, and Romano began work on his first ever album. The result is Valentina, a highly impressive recording that showcases Romano’s fluent skill as a pianist and as an inventive arranger. The album has just been released on top local jazz label Alma Records, and it features stellar production from label head Peter Cardinali and impeccable playing from three of Canada’s best players, drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, and veteran saxophonist Pat LaBarbera



 

MARIO ROMANO QUARTET/Valentina:
Midwest Record - Entertainment Reviews, News, and Views

ALMA

MARIO ROMANO QUARTET/Valentina: Taking the long way around to launching his jazz piano career, Romano finally realizes his dream and vision by letting the Miles influences show proudly as he leads his crew through a classic kind of 60s date that shaped his tastes 40 years ago. Certainly not a manqué, Romano knows and loves the sound and the times delivering not a tribute or homage but a dose of heartfelt playing. Delivering fine workouts on a load of chestnuts, this is one disc that will let you enjoy one more take on the oldies without wondering why.



 

Valentina
www.jazzcorner.com
 

Valentina combines jazz standards - "On Green Dolphin Street," "Night in Tunisia," "Autumn Leaves" - with the Beatles' lovely "Norwegian Wood," the Disney classic "Someday My Prince Will Come," and two group originals - "Via Romano" and "Those Damn I Love Yous," written by Occhipinti and Romano, respectively.

 

Romano's three bandmates and producer Peter Cardinali have recorded and performed together on dozens of occasions, and their musical empathy is clearly audible. Romano cites "Autumn Leaves" as an example of their collaborative approach. "Peter came up with a really good idea to cut the melody in half time, so now it is like a ballad being played over a Latin feel."

 

There's an elegantly understated quality in Romano's fluent playing that evokes the legendary McCoy Tyner. Roberto Occhipinti observed that quality, harnessing it for his composition "Via Romano." "We had been rehearsing at Mario's house and he played a McCoy Tyner kind of figure. I decided to use that as a starting point of a tune I'd write for him," notes the bassist. For his own composition,the sweetly haunting ballad "Those Damn I Love Yous,"Romano called upon talented Toronto jazz vocalist (and Alma recording artist) Kristy Cardinali. "I just love her voice" he says. "It's very clean and pure, and she has a way of singing that's like whispering in your ear."



 

Alma Records' November Releases Include - Auspicious Debut From Pianist Mario Romano

 

Mario Romano's recording debut, Valentina, marks the pianist's professional return to his life-long passion for music, after he spent four decades in the construction industry, eventually becoming one of the most important players in real estate development in Toronto. One of his firm's current projects, the L Tower at the Sony Centre, has, coincidentally, been lauded as “architectural jazz." Romano's interest in music never flagged, and his long-delayed musical dreams have come to fruition with the release of Valentina.

 

While it might be easy to dismiss such an outing as a wealthy businessman's vanity project, a listen to Valentina quickly disproves that theory. Romano, who emerged in the 1970s as a serious player on the Toronto scene after studying music composition and performance at York University, has remained a serious and committed musician whose talents as a both a pianist and arranger clearly emerge on his debut offering. The four players who make up his Quartet—saxophonist Pat LaBarbera (Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones), drummer Mark Kelso (Brian Hughes, Holly Cole) and label-mate bassist Roberto Occhipinti (Hilario Duran)— escalate Romano's work as a pianist and an arranger to the highest level.

 

Valentina combines jazz standards—"On Green Dolphin Street," “Night in Tunisia,"Autumn Leaves,"— with the Beatles' lovely “Norwegian Wood," the Disney classic “Someday My Prince Will Come," and two group originals—"Via Romano" and “Those Damn I Love Yous," written by Occhipinti and Romano, respectively.

 

Romano's three band mates and producer Peter Cardinali have recorded and performed together on dozens of occasions, and their musical empathy is clearly audible. Romano cites “Autumn Leaves" as an example of their collaborative approach. “Peter came up with a really good idea to cut the melody in half time, so now it is like a ballad being played over a Latin feel."

 

There's an elegantly understated quality in Romano's fluent playing that evokes the legendary McCoy Tyner. Roberto Occhipinti observed that quality, harnessing it for his composition “Via Romano." “We had been rehearsing at Mario's house and he played a McCoy Tyner kind of figure. I decided to use that as a starting point of a tune I'd write for him," notes the bassist. For his own composition,the sweetly haunting ballad “Those Damn I Love Yous" Romano called upon talented Toronto jazz vocalist (and Alma recording artist) Kristy Cardinali. “I just love her voice," he says. “It's very clean and pure, and she has a way of singing that's like whispering in your ear."



 

Mario Romano Quartet Valentina:
somethingelsereviews.com

November 15, 2010
 

Mario Romano Quartet Valentino: Here's the setup: a successful real estate tycoon suddenly decides to revisit his original passion, music, and pulls in three of Canada's most prestigious jazz musicians and a top-notch producer to make his first record, one full of done-to-death standards. And you're thinking, this is probably going to be a very competent but very boring, vanity project album, right? You'd be wrong. Valentina, by real estate developer and pianist Mario Romano does get the expected lift from guys the caliber of Pat LaBarbera (tenor sax), Mark Kelso (drums), and Roberto Occhipitti (bass), but it's not just that. Romano is legit force on the piano. But the biggest thing going for the album are the arrangements. Sure, they follow pretty much the same chord progressions, but the tempos are more aggressive, the bass lines are often changed up and the players are putting in crisp, enthusiastic performances (Romano himself lets it fly on "On Green Dolphin Street"). A handful of originals find their way here, including Romano's "Those Damn I Love Yous," featuring the vocal talents of Kristy Cardinali. Vocal jazz plopped in the middle of instrumental jazz can often disturb the groove, but in this case, the genteel, "with strings" three minute piece functions as a fresh breather. So, no, Valentino ain't no vanity project. This is serious business. Seriously good, that is.



 

MARIO ROMANO QUARTET WITH PAT LABARBERA: VALENTINA
Democrat And Chronicle

November 12, 2010
 

MARIO ROMANO QUARTET WITH PAT LABARBERA: VALENTINA. This is a superb Canadian jazz quartet, though one key member, saxophonist LaBarbera, is transplanted from Mount Morris, Livingston County. This is fine straight-ahead jazz with a few lovely ballads for balance. Pianist Romano is the leader, but LaBarbera is an equally important voice. He has a warm, breathy tone. Romano is an expert pianist, while drummer Mark Kelso and bassist Roberto Occhipinti provide classy support. Tunes favor the Bill Evans songbook (like "Nardis," "Autumn Leaves," and "On Green Dolphin Street"), while the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" is a tasty surprise. — JACK GARNER