Closeup: Oscar Rossignoli

Published on: October 11th, 2023

Presenting "Closeup: Oscar Rossignoli!"

A native of Honduras, Rossignoli is an accomplished pianist and composer in both jazz and classical music, based in New Orleans since 2015. He began studying classical music when he was six years old and discovered jazz in high school, when he immediately began writing and performing his own compositions.

Upon enrolling at the University of New Orleans (UNO) music department where he earned his Masters, Rossignoli became an in-demand player in New Orleans, performing with Jason Marsalis, Bill Summers, Christian Chief aTunde Adjuah Scott, James Singleton, Brian Seeger, Brad Walker and others. He was named the 2015-2016 ASCAP Louis Armstrong Scholar at UNO by the New York-based ASCAP Foundation, and was also recognized as a finalist for the Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Summer 2018 Competition, a contest meant to be the most comprehensive, challenging, and in-depth jazz piano competition in the world.

Rossignoli folds many traditions into his music, from his classical music formation to his passion for Latin and North American jazz. Currently based in New Orleans, he regularly works with some of the city’s best jazz musicians. He has also established his reputation in various settings and bands, including the EXTENDED trio with Matt Booth and Brad Webb, and by leading his own quartet. He collaborates on a wide range of projects with artists such as John Boutté, Jason Marsalis, Joe Dyson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Alexey Marti, among many others.

His latest self-released album, “Inertia,” marks his first full-length solo piano project. Recorded mostly during the 2020-2021 pandemic and released in late 2021, the record showcases his long relationship with his instrument of choice, as well as his process of discovery through improvisation. Tracks range from original compositions to improvisations and include a nod to Chopin and a tribute to the late great Chick Corea.

Now, for a few notes from WWOZ's Video Director, Charlie Steiner:

This short documentary came out of a silly joke. So many times, the WWOZ video crew was waiting at a soundcheck for the band to show up, and along came Oscar, prodding me to say “Oh, you again.” He laughed each time but the point is that many important musicians have hired him to be in their bands, and then he was given the chance to headline a show with his own band, playing his own compositions, at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center. I came to realize that we had so much material about him that we only needed an interview to be able to highlight his short career in New Orleans — and that was done by WWOZ show host (and English professor) T.R. Johnson in the 'OZ studio.

In the film Rossignoli traces his musical journey through Chopin and Rachmaninoff to Latin jazz and free improvisation. His improvs on solo piano earned him standing ovations at the last two WWOZ Piano Night concerts during Jazz Fest. He is fearless and will play a slow piece when everyone else is pounding the keys, or playing an unscripted set in a dive bar with much older and established musicians like Johnny Vidacovich.

There is a playlist on YouTube with the full sets of the performances that are excerpted in the film, and several others that WWOZ has captured that did not make it into this short documentary.

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