He does it with the help not only of his primary, classical instrument, the violin, but also with his surreptitious jazz love, the piano. Ciarla switches from one instrument to the other, gradually blurring the differences between genres without forcing one style to conform to the other's routines.
Ciarla, who moved to the U.S. from his native Italy in 1996, obtained a master's degree in violin performance at Indiana University, one of the great American schools for classical musicians. While there, he also studied jazz with David Baker. Ciarla came to the UA in 1998 to work on his doctorate, and the music on this CD echoes a UA recital he gave last June.
His intention with this program, he writes, is to create "a dimension where Mozart, Charlie Parker, Bach and Keith Jarrett are just part of the same family." Ciarla largely succeeds, but his most interesting work is on the violin. That's where he takes on greater technical challenges, whether he's playing a straight classical piece or one of his own crossover compositions.
The violin solos include a Spanish Rhapsody by one J. Vanecek, which could pass for something by the better-known Spanish firebrand Pablo Sarasate; the lyrical Meditation from Jules Massenet's Thaïs; and J.S. Bach's equally songful Air with Ciarla simultaneously playing both the melody and the stately accompaniment. Ciarla's own violin compositions are hyperactive, ostinato-driven and technically challenging, and should intrigue partisans of either the classical or jazz camp.
Ciarla's piano work, on the other hand, is generally much more subdued. There may be a touch of Jarrett here, but more often Ciarla's keyboard work shares the atmospheric dreaminess of George Winston. The exception is the album closer, "SOULe Mio" (it's a bilingual pun), which gets down and dirty--like the inebriated end of a family reunion.
Meet Luca Ciarla and hear some tunes live at his CD release party at 5 p.m. October 15 at Borders Books and Music, 4235 N. Oracle Road.