Roberto Occhipinti forms top-flight piano trio for new album The Next Step

Juno Award-winning bassist Roberto Occhipinti has just released his latest album The Next Step.

The new release represents a culmination of all of Occhipinti’s influences from throughout his diverse career. Joining him are two other musicians firmly rooted in Toronto’s music scene: pianist Adrean Farrugia and Grammy-winning drummer Larnell Lewis.

The Next Step is Occhipinti’s sixth release as bandleader. The album blends his many musical interests in a tight nine-track traditional jazz format.

Throughout the pandemic, Occhipinti has continued to record in his own studio, using the time to consolidate projects. He opted to put together a piano trio recording in order to test himself creatively.

“It’s always been a favourite form of mine, from the time I started playing bass after hearing Ray Brown in the Oscar Peterson Trio, then moving on to the classic Bill Evans trio with Scott LoFaro, and finally in my work with the Hilario Duran Trio.”

Over the years, Occhipinti has earned a large presence in jazz scenes in Canada and worldwide. Recently, he’s been recording with Cuban musicians, with notable appearances on records by Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnett. His body of work extends even further outside the scope of jazz as he’s performed with top-rated Canadian musicians and orchestras around the world. While recording, Occhipinti uses the various techniques he’s acquired from many different musical disciplines and artists.

“My other recording projects were for larger ensembles with winds and strings. For The Next Step, I would be the string section, using techniques I learned in my career playing classical and contemporary music,” he says.

The compositions on The Next Step reference his influences from classical ballads, Afrobeat and pivotal musicians like McCoy Tyner, Jaco Pastorius and Stevie Wonder. On this project, Occhipinti takes the opportunity to let his voice on solos truly shine while giving equal space for Farrugia and Lewis to colourfully accompany his compositions and take their own solos, too.

Here’s the track listing for The Next Step:

  1. The Next Step
  2. Emancipation Days
  3. The Peacocks
  4. Il Muro
  5. O Cessate Di Piagarmi
  6. Three Man Crew
  7. Opus Pocus
  8. Steveland
  9. A Tynerish Swing

Roberto Occhipinti’s The Next Step was released March 4 via Modica Music.