Reviews to Riccardo Scivales’ music books

Hi! Excerpted from reviews written by well-known jazz musicians and musicologists, below here some comments to my books of transcriptions and original piano pieces. I wish to thank all these people who found them good and spoke so highly of them!

Scivales gives us superb transcriptions, […] with details […] carefully worked out. […] what we have here is a major addition to the “must” folios shelf. (Butch Thompson, review to Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “The Mississippi Rag”, March 1991). www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwuxpsEzXE4

[…] a magnificent work tool, whose quality is comparable with the books of James Dapogny on Jelly Roll Morton or of Jed Distler on Art Tatum. (Louis Mazetier, review to Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “Bullettin du Hot Club France”, September 1991).

[…] Riccardo Scivales, […] one of the foremost authorithies on traditional jazz piano playing we know […] has recently completed a new book just now going to press, Jazz Piano: The Left Hand. This is an extraordinary treatise that traces, demonstrates, and puts into practice the techniques of the left hand in popular and jazz piano styles from ragtime to the present day. The age-old complaint, “I don’t know what to do with my left hand,” has plenty of sure-fire remedies lurking within the pages of this major work. (Ed ShanaphyPeople of Importance, “Sheet Music Magazine”, Summer 2005). http://www.riccardoscivales.com/290/

[…] an impressive folio. The transcriptions feel right under the hands and sound good to hear. (Mark Tucker, review to Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “I.S.A.M. Newsletter”, November 1991).

[…] hats off to Maestro Scivales for a superlative job. Again, my deepest gratitude; please keep up this good and important work. (Frank Feldman, letter on Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “Sheet Music Magazine”, July/August 1990).

[…] il trascrittore ha fatto un lavoro, oltre che eccellente, estenuante: ogni suono udibile (e non pochi si collocano al limite estremo della soglia di udibilità), ogni figurazione ritmica per complessa che sia, ogni accento significativo sono stati notati fedelmente […]. (Angelo Zaniol, review to Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “Rivista Italiana di Musicologia”, XXV, 1990).

Il lavoro svolto è pressoché perfetto […]. Solo chi ci si è provato […] potrà quindi apprezzare fino in fondo la precisione di Scivales. [..] C’è solo un pericolo: che adesso gli americani credano che in Italia gli esperti di jazz siano tutti bravi come Scivales. Ma per ora lasciamoglielo credere. [Marcello Piras, review to Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “Musica Jazz”, marzo 1991).

Riccardo Scivales, musicista e musicologo che si può considerare il massimo esperto a livello mondiale di stride piano, […]. (Maurizio FrancoDentro le note,“Musica Jazz”, novembre 2003).

Riccardo Scivales è, in assoluto, uno dei più autorevoli studiosi dello stride e le sue trascrizioni rappresentano un indispensabile punto di riferimento didattico per chiunque voglia accostarsi a questo stile pianistico. (Claudio Angeleri, dal sito del CDpM-Centro Didattico produzione Musica di Bergamo, www.cdpm.it).

Il lavoro di Scivales si può definire “unico” perché per la prima volta tenta di dare un quadro completo dello “stride piano” […] (Giovanni Greto, review to Harlem Stride Piano Solos, “Blu Jazz”).

Your piece, Chant Of The Sea-Horse, is a lovely and pianistic bit of impressionism. I like it quite a lot. (Dick Hyman, letter to the author, January 1, 1995).

Scivales’ transcriptions here and in his earlier book Harlem Stride Piano Solos are superb. More of this, please. (Butch Thompson, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos, “The Mississippi Rag”, October 1995).

[…] Wellstood’s stride-fueled improvisations have been faithfully transcribed by that keyboard lion of Venice, Riccardo Scivales. Like Scivales’ earlier collection, Harlem Stride Piano Solos, the Wellstood folio offers a passport to those in search of digital thrills and rhythmic revelation. (Mark Tucker, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos, “I.S.A.M. Newsletter”, Spring 1995).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJFUlxiwjKQ

As usual, the transcriptions are of a superb quality […]. This work is indispensable to everyone is interested in stride piano and in the music of Dick Wellstood more in particular. (Louis Mazetier, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos, “Bullettin du Hot Club France”, May 1995). http://www.riccardoscivales.com/dick-wellstood-version-entertainer/

[…] a valuable addition to the Wellstood legacy. […] thanks to Riccardo Scivales for this bouquet of evergreens. (Jack D. Styne, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos, “Jersey Jazz”, March 1995).

Riccardo Scivales […] è un trascrittore formidabile […]. E’ italiano, eppure pubblica i suoi preziosi lavori negli Stati Uniti, dove hanno regolarmente successo […]. Questo libro è un mattone fondamentale, che non dovrebbe mancare sul vostro pianoforte. […]  (Stefano Zenni, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos and Learn To Play Latin Piano, “Musica Jazz”, maggio 1996).

[…] nessuno affronta con sistematicità il problema ritmico come lo affronta Scivales. […] Una sorta di “il mio primo latin piano”che gli interessati […] non dovrebbero farsi sfuggire. (Stefano Zenni, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos and Learn To Play Latin Piano, “Musica Jazz”, maggio 1996). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp6firGVcmw

[…] è notevole anche lo sforzo creativo che si accompagna al metodo: le composizioni sono brani compiuti e suonabilissimi, arrangiabili e proponibili in un programma di musica latinoamericana. (Giorgio Cuscito, review to Learn To Play Latin Piano, “Jazz”, Novembre-dicembre 1995).

Giustizia è fatta! […] Riccardo Scivales […] colma una lacuna gravissima nel campo della didattica jazzistica, ristabilendo le giuste proporzioni fra Tatum ed altri campioni del jazz che, al contrario, hanno goduto di ben diversa attenzione da parte degli studiosi. […] Scivales è senz’altro il più autorevole esperto “non americano” del settore, […] le sue trascrizioni, tutte molto ben fatte, sono tra le più eseguite in Italia e all’estero […]. (Giorgio Cuscito, review to The Right Hand According To Tatum, “Jazz”, ottobre 1998).

Have a good time. And when you are taking your bows, imagined or real, thank Riccardo Scivales for his hard work in making it possible. (Russ Chase, review to Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos and The Right Hand According To Tatum, “IAJRC Journal”, Winter 1999).

Scivales offre allora dieci preziose trascrizioni integrali […] e le commenta sinteticamente con il suo consueto acume didattico. […] il lavoro dell’autore è unico e meritorio, in quanto non esistono in commercio testi che analizzino il linguaggio tatumiano. (Stefano Zenni, review to The Right Hand According To Tatum, “Musica Jazz”, marzo 2000). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGEcXxUgdhI

[…] un metodo valido ed efficace le cui composizioni, lungi dall’essere meri esercizi scolastici, pongono significativi problemi di carattere stilistico, formale, ritmico e armonico […]. (Luca Bragalini, review to Blues Piano, “Musica Jazz”, novembre 1999).

Una proposta che si distingue dalle molte altre pur piacevoli raccolte “jazzeggianti”, per il rigore stilistico e il livello compositivo che ne fanno un ottimo strumento jazzistico. (Chiara Zocca, review to Blues Piano, “Musica Domani”, marzo 2000).

Per l’assoluta cura dei dettagli e la ricchezza delle annotazioni spicca quindi questa nuova, notevole fatica del pianista veneziano Riccardo Scivales […] già autore di altri volumi di trascrizioni pianistiche, tra cui il fondamentale Harlem Stride Piano Solos. (Maurizio Franco, review to The Soul Of Blues, Stride & Swing Piano, “Musica Jazz, dicembre 2002).

A truly indispensable book because of the reliability of its transcriptions. (Maurizio Franco, review to The Soul of Blues, Stride & Swing Piano, “Musica Jazz”, December 2002).

All of the compositions are challenging but sound great. (D.P., review to Southern-Fried Blues, “Clavier”, December 2002). www.youtube.com/watch?v=tezN3ZNTF_s

Riccardo Scivales […] has done us an invaluable service. He’s given us piano solos, faithfully and lovingly transcribed; a well-observed career overview and analysis of style; and […] a comprehensive inventory on Wellstood on record and film. (Richard M. Sudhalter, from the Preface to Dick Wellstood: The Art of Jazz and Blues Piano, Vol. 1). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp1jZefOD9s

These solos are faithfully transcribed and are very accurate. […] I found this production very worthwhile. (John Collinson, review to Dick Wellstood:The Art of Jazz and Blues Piano Vol. 1, “VJM Jazz and Blues Mart”, 2002).

I brani sono analizzati in modo sintetico ma illuminante […]. E varrà la pena che pianisti e musicologi prestino orecchio a Scivales […] uno dei più esperti e abili trascrittori del pianismo jazz […]. (Luca Bragalini, review to Dick Wellstood: The Art of Jazz and Blues Piano, Vol. 1, “Musica Jazz”, novembre 2004).

 

Dick Wellstood version of “The Entertainer”

Among many other masterworks, jazz and stride piano great Dick Wellstood devised a memorable and very original interpretation of Scott Joplin’s famous ragtime classic The Entertainer, taken at a slow tempo and with plenty of bluesy colorations. He recorded it many times, for example in his LP Live at Café des Copains (Unisson DDA 1003). My note-for-note transcription of this great recording is included in my book Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos (San Diego, California, Neil A. Kjos Music Company, 1994). Here is a beautiful live performance of this transcription, played by my friend the Italian ragtime specialist Marco Fumohttp://youtu.be/yJFUlxiwjKQ

As one can easily see here, Wellstood departs considerably from the original Joplin score and he also improvises in the repetitions of each strain. Contrary to the popular belief that Ragtime has to be played exactly as written, Wellstood was “legitimate” in using this improvisational approach from a historical point of view too. As reported by Eubie Blake and many other ragtime pioneers and instructors, every good ragtime pianist had his own performing style and would improvise or at least personalize his renditions. More on this fascinating and very important matter soon on these pages…

Recorded in 1985, Live at Café des Copains is definitely one of Wellstood’s best albums.  Really, it’s a pity that (at least to my knowledge) it has not been reissued on CD until now. Anyway, a similar studio version of this version of The Entertainer is currently available in his truly great CD Ragtime Piano Favorites, from which I transcribed five of the piano solos included in my book. I hope you’ll enjoy this transcription of Dick Wellstood The Entertainer!

Libro Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos

Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos: Seven Historic SolosTranscribed and annotated by Riccardo Scivales, with a preface by Dick Hyman (San Diego, California, Neil A. Kjos Music Company, 1994, pp. 64, WP332, $ 8.95). A collection of note-for-note transcriptions of seven great piano solos recorded by this stride, jazz, and blues piano master. Includes outstanding stride piano versions of famous old standards such as The Entertainer, Bill Bailey, If Dreams Come True, Hello My Baby, Washington & Lee Swing, My Gal Sal and Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider, plus performance notes and introductory notes to each solo and to Wellstood’s style. The Preface is by jazz piano great Dick Hyman, who also performed and recorded with Wellstood in the highly acclaimed “Stridemonster!” two-piano team. 

photo Dick Wellstood

Dick Wellstood