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Pianist Pete Malinverni Releases New Album

On the Town- Pete Malinverni plays Leonard Bernstein is set to release on January 14th, 2022.

Pianist Pete Malinverni Releases New Album

Having spent four decades on the New York City jazz scene, pianist Pete Malinverni has crossed paths with countless revered artists and come away with a host of tales to tell. But few moments measure up to the time that Malinverni met the iconic composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein. The seeds planted in that meeting decades ago come to fruition on Malinverni's stunning new album, On the Town - Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein. Due out January 14, 2022 via Planet Arts Recordings, the album reimagines nine Bernstein favorites, along with a new Malinverni original penned in tribute to the composer, for an all-star trio featuring bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Hamilton.

At the time of that fateful meeting, Malinverni had a steady gig at an upscale restaurant in the city. One night the swanky nightspot was chosen as the site of the opening night cast party for Franco Zeffirelli's production of "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera. As Malinverni played through a selection of arias at the piano, Bernstein walked in, and the young pianist immediately launched into the composer's "Lucky To Be Me." Bernstein recognized the homage and, following a trip detour to the men's room (where a friend of Malinverni's broke the protocols of polite society and touted the pianist's virtues), proceeded to spend a considerable portion of the evening hanging around the piano.

Malinverni still recalls that encounter - which included introductions to other notables at the party, including legendary songwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green - as "one of the great moments of my musical life." To this day he remains touched by Bernstein's magnetic attraction to musicians of any stature.

"His public image was of a guy who knew his stuff and was super passionate about it. But I found out that night that as passionate as he seemed, he was even more so. When I saw him in the flesh, it was electric. His head poked through the clouds, and the piano somehow seemed a more exalted place then and thereafter."

If that weren't inspiration enough, the story takes another slight twist: some time later, Malinverni befriended a bartender at one of the nightclubs where he performed regularly, whose wife happened to be Bernstein's personal chef. The composer had given her a sheaf of blank staff paper, which the bartender then gifted to Malinverni. The pianist hung onto it for nearly thirty years, finally using it to write the arrangements for the present recording. "The last arrangement I had to write turned out to use the last piece of staff paper I had left," Malinverni recalls. "I'm always looking for signs, and that made everything feel right."

Exploring these brilliant songs with such a gifted and intuitive trio felt incredibly right as well. Malinverni's first opportunity to pay tribute to Bernstein arrived on the occasion of the composer's 2018 centennial, when the pianist was commissioned to arrange many of these pieces for a four-horn ensemble featuring Joe Lovano at Purchase College, where Malinverni is Chair of the Jazz Studies Program. But when it came time to record the music, he determined to pare the music down to a trio setting.

Another bond that Malinverni shares with Bernstein is a deep love for New York. Through his selection of tunes from the composer's oeuvre, Malinverni also made the album a love letter to the metropolis that he's called home since trekking down from his hometown of Niagara Falls in 1980. Titles like "New York New York," which opens the album, and "Lonely Town" make the reference explicit; other pieces are culled from Big Apple-centric shows like "Wonderful Town," "West Side Story" and "On the Town."

To read more about Pete Malinverni, click here.

Stream On the Town- Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein on SoundCloud now.

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