ROOTS AND WINGS (Radici ed ali)
di Maria Pia De Vito
Direttore artistico Jazz
The concept underlying the jazz section of the Ravello Festival 2018 programme is the work of musicians who have reinterpreted the musical traditions in terms of their own voices, their own fields of action and research, as it were. Like in the past two years of the festival which I have curated, there will be a special focus on voices, this time male voices.
We shall hear Ivan Lins, an icon of Brasilian Popular Music and an artist who is loved and reread by dozens of greats on the world’s jazz scene, especially for his compositions which are steeped in modernity and a rare sense of harmony: George Benson, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Sara Vaughan, the Manhattan Transfer to name just a few. Lins will present his “Ravello Concert”, an exquisite programme based on a reworking of pieces from his repertoire as jazz, together with the Italian group InventaRio, with whom he has collaborated for some time; a collaboration which in 2014 won a Latin Grammy nomination for the best disc in the Musica Popular Brasileira per the album “InventaRio incontra Ivan Lins” (EMI 2012).
Kurt Elling, the most famous and prize-winning United States jazz singer, an innovator firmly rooted in jazz tradition, will present his latest disc “The Questions” (Okeh/Sony Masterworks 2018). Together with his sestet, reinterpreting pieces by writers such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Bernsyein, Paul Simon, and with his magnificent vocalese lyrics (Kurt being a great lyricist), he will perform his musical and philosophical reaction to this historical moment of great uncertainty when human values are constantly being put to the test and challenged.
The prodigious Armenian pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan will perform his solo piano concert “An Ancient Observer” in its Italian premier on the stage of the Villa Rufolo. The concert is from the album of the same name recorded by the prestigious Nonesuch Records Company. The title is extremely significant for this brilliant thirty-year-old with his roots in the past; in only twelve years he has achieved immense prestige on the world jazz scene, winning awards on every continent thanks to his unique style of profound and skilful composition, steeped in echoes of Armenian music, but also jazz, rock and electronic music.
Paolo Fresu, our most famous and versatile trombonist and composer, leader of numerous projects in company with international electronic jazz, will be accompanied by the Mistico Mediterraneo group with Daniele di Bonaventura on the bandoneon and the fabulous Filetta Choir (six male voices). He will perform the Italian premiere of “Danse mémoire, danse”, a disc to come out in November based on texts by Aimé Césaire, and Jean Nicoli, two Corsican heroes – the former a poet laureate and the latter a maestro who was a victim of Nazism and who are bearers of a message of resistance and opposition to any form of racism and colonialism.
A special place has been reserved for the record company ECM, the most important and historical independent European label, the company of idols such as Keith Jarret, Jan Garbarek, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner and Bill Frisell, as well as Arvo Pärt and other important contemporary composers. This Munich record company has always been open to productions that go from classical to improvised music. The event will be two concerts: their original production for the Ravello festival, “Four Quartets”, with music composed by Stefano Battaglia (piano) based on poems by Thomas Stearns Eliot, interpreted by Theo Bleckmann, the most-loved singer on the New York scene, whose world of expression goes from jazz to contemporary classical music. A collaborator of Meredith Monk and Uri Caine, Theo’s singing is limpid and crystalline, a style which has been developed as a very personal vision of singing and electronic experimentation. Accompanying the original compositions of Stefano Battaglia, permeated with liturgical echoes and daring improvisations, we have the funambulistic and magical Michele Rabbia on percussion and electronic elaborations; Rabbia is the inventor of new sounds and soundscapes and of great poetry.
The second concert is that of Django Bates, a pianist and composer; he is the founder of legendary bands among which are Delightful Precipice, Human Chain and Loose Tubes, but he is also a soloist pianist of exceptional lyricism and skillful compositions, as well as the composer of music for the theatre and dance, his recent trio, Beloved, being a personal, very modern musical work and, as is his custom, takes an irreverent look at the work of Charlie Parker. The trio recent brought out with ECM “The Art of Touch”, a work which has received unanimous praise from specialist critics and the international public. Lastly, the legendary guitarist Bill Frisell will perform in a quartet “When you Wish upon a Star”, with the singing of Petra Haden. This is a series of revisitations of music from film and TV series which have become icons in the American and international imagination. The songs will be reinterpreted by this extraordinary group. The uniqueness and peculiarity of Frisell’s magnificent sound, a “voice” which has no equal, being as it is soaked in folk, country and American culture in general, has lived on for forty years in the history of western music side-by-side with seminal figures of the jazz world such as Paul Motian, John Zorn, Jan Garbarek and Chet Baker, always original and recognisable, expressive of both nostalgia and the future, between roots and wings.