Pianist, composer, and conductor, major figures in the music industry have not been mistaken in letting him open for them over the years—Etta James, Earth, Wind and Fire, Richard Pryor, the Persuasions, and the Coasters. Performing both in the USA and abroad, this album is a true gem, both in terms of compositions and arrangements. It even includes a rendition of “The Godfather” theme, making Michael Costantino’s music sparkle like champagne bubbles—just in time for the season!
On this album, the pianist is joined by bassist Harvie S and drummer Thierry Arpino, who seem to take genuine pleasure in deconstructing tracks like “The Two of Us” for our delight. In fact, this album is a collection filled with surprises, as if Michael Costantino is trying to immerse us in a wholly personal kinetic universe. Here, Michael gives his best on the arrangements of numerous authors chosen not by chance—Jerome Kern, Ellington, Bill Withers, Linda Perry, and even Beethoven—all cleverly reshaped to serve the art of this magnificent trio. While purists may be alarmed by this approach to the works, beneath the seemingly simple appearances, this album is highly elitist and will appeal to those familiar with the codes of contemporary jazz. It caters to those who love beautiful arrangements, meticulous rhythms, and clever bass lines. If you belong to this category, this album will quickly become a classic for you— the kind of album you play at gatherings where friends inevitably ask, “Who is this group?”
Clearly, Michael Costantino is deeply concerned with “Classical” music, but not in the manner of European composers or arrangers. Being American, his approach is likely influenced by the teachings of the Berklee School, which he attended long ago. Allow yourself to be captivated by this album because, as the title suggests, “The Song Inside the Tune,” you’ll need to listen to it multiple times to fully experience its effects—the clever arranging tricks and the high quality of this trio.
The album concludes with an extended version of “The Godfather” theme, and one cannot help but see beyond this homage/citation a nod that proves Michael Costantino’s love for cinema. This is probably enough for the Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move editorial teams to categorize this album as one of our “Essentials.”
PARIS-MOVE, December 5th 2023