Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia has recorded regularly for the Splasc(h) label since his debut as a leader in 1987, Things Ain't What They Used to Be. By that time, he had been playing piano for 15 years and had graduated from the Conservatory of Milan three years prior. Active in both classical and jazz music, he has performed at a number of European festivals, including the 1986 J.S. Bach Festival in Düsseldorf and the Umbria Jazz Festival on several occasions during the '80s and '90s.
In 2009, Battaglia took a different tack: he recorded an album of duets, playing piano and prepared piano with percussionist and electronic musician Michele Rabbia. The album was issued by ECM in 2010 as Pastorale. Also in 2009, Battaglia returned to work with his trio, comprising Salvatore Maiore on double bass and Roberto Dani on drums. The set was recorded at Lugano's Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera with producer Manfred Eicher. Comprised of ten tracks — all of which were inspired by mythical places — Battaglia sought to compose works that ignored the language of contemporary music and harked back to those of earlier eras. The trio issued The River of Anyder in 2011 and returned with Songways in March of 2013.
Battaglia recorded as a soloist, guest, and bandleader for a number of labels. That same year he collaborated with bassist Fiorenzo Bodrato, guitarist Andrea Massaria, and drummer Massimiliano Furia on Bartelby the Scrivener (based on Herman Melville's novel) for Evil Rabbit and Three Open Rooms on Caligola with bassist Roberto Caon and drummer Marco Carlesso. The following year his Triosonic band — with drummer/percussionist Michele Rabbia and bassist Giovanni Maier — issued the ballad collection Anything Your Little Heart Says on Parco Della Maria. In 2015, Battaglia and Rabbia, along with guitarist/electronicist Evivind Arset, issued the privately released double-length In Memoriam. Pow-bee, on Leo, featured the pianist in a quartet setting with saxophonist Andrea Buffa, bassist Bodrato, and drummer Dario Mazzucco. 2016 was busy as well. His duo album Little Peace Lullaby, with German reedist Ulrich Drechsler, was released by Enja's Yellowbird imprint, while another duo set, Winds with guitarist Samo Šalamon, was issued by Klopotec. A reissue of his first trio record called Things Ain't What They Used to Be, with bassist Piero Leveratto and drummer Gianni Cazzola, featuring covers by Stevie Wonder, the Gershwins, Henry Mancini and others, appeared on Splasc(h).
Battaglia issued his seventh disc for ECM in 2017, the double-length solo album Pelagos. The music was performed on acoustic and prepared piano (sometimes played simultaneously) and offered both compositions and improvisations as well as two versions of the traditional Arabic song "Lamma Bada Yatathanna." Recorded in concert and in intimate closed door studio sessions at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, Italy, the tracks were then arranged by producer Manfred Eicher who, according to Battaglia, instilled them with "a new fantastic form, based on a totally renewed dramaturgy." ~ Joslyn Layne