Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Nero and His Piano give Fans an Earful

Cleveland Press July 17, 1964

Down through the years there has been a particular breed of pianist -- neither classicist nor pure jazz artist -- who has captured the popular fancy. Add to such names as Eddy Duchin, Frankie Carle, Carmen Cavelaro and Roger Williams the latest in the group, Peter Nero.

Nero performed first with Louis Lane and the Cleveland Summer Orchestra, but the bulk of the program was music played by Nero accompanied only by drums and bass.

There's just enough jazz in his style to make it attractive, not enough to scare off the squares. It's palatable, easy-to-listen-to music, the kind that sells.

NERO'S CLASSICAL training is very evident. One of the hallmarks of his playing is the use of easily recognizable styles of some of the masters.

Thus, "Golden Earrings" sounds more like Chopin than Victor Young, and there's a good bit of Mozart mixed with Kern in "The Way You Look Tonight."

The improvisations are more studied than spontaneous -- but they're slick and pleasant.

Nero sounded particularly good in show tunes -- his arrangement of music from "West Side Story," plus "People" and "Hello, Dolly'"

THEN THERE was that tongue-in-cheek closer, the Beatle song -- "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- sounding as though Edward Elgar had a hand in composing it.

Lane and the orchestra opened the concert with a march and two ballet numbers -- "El Capitan," music from Piston's "The Incredible Flutist" and Richard Rodgers' "Slaughter on 10th Avenue."

The Piston work, at times exotic and at other moments raucous, is a popular standard in the orchestra's repertoire and one that is well done.