Thursday, January 18, 2018

Roberto Ottaviano - Forgotten Matches The Worlds of Steve Lacy (Dodicilune, 2017)

“Today, the more I study Lacy's repertoire, the more I deal with the transcription of his compositions, the more I listen to his unreleased recordings, the more I concentrate on his language trying to connect the strings of his inspirations and his soundographies, the more I feel little, tiny”. This is a statement by saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano, who gave light to a double album full of Lacy's music last year.

Roberto Ottaviano is a sopranist born in Bari, Italy, in 1957. He studied saxophone with Lacy himself, while applying to composition and arrangement under the guide of George Russell. Since 1979 he toured and recorded all over Europe, playing with Mal Waldron, Giorgio Gaslini, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille, Albert Mangelsdorff, Keith Tippett, Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink, Barre Phillips, Pierre Favre, Kenny Wheeler, Mark Dresser, Paul Bley, Irene Schweitzer, Tony Oxley and many others.

Roberto Ottaviano
In this double record, full of Lacy's compositions, Ottaviano plays with a quartet (with Glen Ferris on trombone, Giovanni Maier on bass and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums) on the first cd, and in a duo with pianist Alexander Hawkins on the second cd. Ottaviano style on soprano saxophone is less metaphysical, less angular than Lacy's, more rounded.

The music contained in this collection is more similar to what Lacy did in albums like 'The Kiss' (Lunatic Records, 1987) than in obliques, confrontational records as 'The Gap' (America, 1972). Both the quartet and the duo is far from free playing, and more akin to traditional jazz. To hear such interpretations is strange in a way, since Lacy music is hand to hand with the limits of his instument, while Ottaviano is playing it more like a conventional, melodic device.

Anyway it's important, now that 14 years have passed since Lacy's death, to reinvigorate this music for the new generations of musicians and listeners. Maybe this record can put a new light on Lacy's body of work, reinvigorating his legacy and leading his music to the future.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Less Of Five – Chapter Two (Caligola Records, 2017)

Do you remember that era during the 1960s when Blue Note Records was putting on the market albums of musicians such as Sam Rivers and Bobby Hutcherson? It was a 'third wave' between classical jazz and free improvisation. Now, thanks to Caligola Record, we can breath not the same music, but the same temperatures.

Pianist Giorgio Occhipinti, born in 1969, boasts collaborations with the likes of Evan Parker, Joelle Léandre, Ernst Reijseger, Paul Rutherford, Barre Phillips, and Peter Brotzmann. He started playing piano and flute with his father's band. Occhipinti was part of one of the hystorical groups of Sicilian jazz, the December Thirty Jazz Trio (1989) and since 1992 he collaborated with the Pino Minafra Sud Ensemble.

In 1993 Occhipinti created the Festival Ibleo del Jazz becoming its artistic director. In the same year he foundet a nonet (Giorgio Occhipinti Hereo Nonetto) that took many forms in the following years: octet, orchestra, and so on. In 2000 he took part in the Banlieue Bleues Quartet with Pino Minafra, Sandro Satta and Vincenzo Mazzone.

Giorgio Occhipinti
The musician that seems to me more similar to Giorgio Occhipinti is Matthew Shipp. Not for his open, ascendent chords (Occhipinti is less mysthic an more gentle), but because of a quality in improvisation and interplay. Luckily enough his new record, 'Chapter Two' by the group Less of Five (featuring Gianpiero Fronte on alto and soprano saxophone, Giuseppe Guarrella on double bass, and Emmanuele Primavera on drums) provides us with two long compositions, 'Orange's Smell' and 'Breathing New York's air' that are more than ten minutes long, leaving us with a flavour that is connected to free improvisation, even if the music is softer.

The other six pieces, from 3 to 6 minutes long, are miniatures of melody and improvisation. The effect in listening to this record is that of a music that doesn't want to be caged in a precise definition, a music that loves to take you by the hand and wonder into new landscapes, even if quite often the flavour of blues is strong, as in the track 'Expression' . Highly recommended to all the lovers of free improvisation, but not only.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Apocalypse Trio feat. Paolo Angeli – Live at Fasano Jazz (Jazz Engine Records, 2017)

I've always been a fan of Richard Teitelbaum and of his records with the likes of Anthony Braxton. That mood, that feeling, jazz with a nocturne feeling, jazz widened through its extremes, jazz and electronics. I'm also a fan of a record, issued few years ago, featuring Evan Parker and Grutronics. So, I was happy to see Paolo Angeli, one of my Italian heroes, playing with an electro-acoustic trio as in the album “Live at Fasano Jazz”.

The Apocalypse Trio features Vincenzo Deluci (trumpet), Camillo Pace (double bass) and Giuseppe Mariani (electronics). Vincenzo Deluci (b. in Fasano) started studying trumpet as a child, and took his degree in 1992. Finalist in different contests, he won the International Contest 'Astor Piazzolla' in Castel Fidardo as Best Musician. He is author of the Lp “La Rana Dalla Bocca Larga” who sold 1000 copies in only 15 days.

After a car accident, who put him on a weelchair, he came back to the music with the live show “VianDante”. Camillo Pace (b. in Taranto) graduated as a bassist at Monopoli's 'Nino Rota' Conservatory and then he took a degree in jazz music disciplines, specializing in history and musicology. He conducted studies as ethnomusicologist in Kenya and South Africa.

Giuseppe Mariani, born in Noci, studied trumpet as a child and graduated in 1999 at the 'Nino Rota' Conservatory in Monopoli. Between 2001 and 2002 he lived in London where he worked with saxophonist A. Wilkinson, drummer S. Ritchie and bassist Bellatalla. Since 2002 he took interest in other musical forms, and the relationships between improvised and electronic music.

The Apocalypse Trio
Special guest on the record is Paolo Angeli, an extraordinary musician who plays a self-built instrument. Born in 1970, he started to play guitar at 9. He traveled up to Bologna, where he started playing with different ensembles and musician, one of whom is the great Fred Frith. His instrument, a sardinian prepared guitar, is the result of Paolo Angeli's interest in both avant-garde music and folk music.

This record start with 'Apocalypse', an original composition of the trio that sees trumpet and guitar having a conversation surrounded by electronic sounds popping by. Then is the turn of another composition, 'Impro', who is very reminiscent of glitch music, followed by 'A Child is Born' (Jones/Wilder) lunar and crepuscular. Composer Ennio Morricone has his hommage paid by the 'Morricone Suite', featuring the themes from “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” and “Once Upon a Time in America”.

And then is the turn of 'Nature Boy' by Nat King Cole, where one can enjoy the richness of the textures provided by Paolo Angeli; the record finish with 'Procession', an original composition by Deluci where improvised music takes the foreground over electronics, dominated by the trumpet and the doodles of the cello/guitar.

I'm enthousiast to hear such young musicians expressing passion and knowledge, and the record will become for sure one of the best albums of the year 2017. Listen and enjoy this record, and then my advice is to recover the other records I mentioned at the beginning of this post, to have a wider landscape about the history of the encounters between jazz and electroacoustic music.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Remembering Misha Mengelberg (1935-2017)

Misha Mengelberg with Thomas Heberer, The Stone, 2008
Last week pianist Misha Mengelberg has died, aged 81. Mengelberg was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1935. The son of the Dutch conductor Karel Mengelberg, his family moved back to the Netherlands in the late 1930s and the young Mengelberg began learning the piano at age five. He studied architecture briefly before entering the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. There, he won the first prize of a jazz festival in Loosdrecht and became associated with the Fluxus movement.

His influences count the likes of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and John Cage. Mengelberg was one of the very first perpetrators of the revolution of the free jazz/avant garde jazz of the 1960s but from an European perspective. His first appearance on a record is on Eric Dolphy's final recording, Last Date (1964). On that record appears also drummer Han Bennink, marking the beginning of a long friendship and collaboration.

Mengelberg and Bennink founded later a quartet with saxophonist Piet Noordijk and many different bassists. The quartet played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1966. In 1967 Mengelberg co-founded the Instant Composers Pool, an organization that, similarly to the AACM on the other side of the Ocean, promoted avant garde jazz performances and records, with Bennink and Willem Breuker.

Mengelberg played with a large variety of musicians: quite often he performed in duo with fellow Han Bennink; other collaborations included guitarist Derek Bailey, and saxophonists Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, and Anthony Braxton. He also wrote music for other performers (leaving some space for improvisation) and oversaw some music theatre productions. On the other hand, he made known to the public the works of pianist Herbie Nichols.

Related Links:
Misha Mengelberg discography on Discogs

An interview with Misha Mengelberg by Dan Warburton

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Umberto Tricca - Moksha Pulse (Working Label, 2016)

East meets West again. The first wailings of the encounter between jazz and Indian classical music were in 1963, the year Impulse! issued “Impressions”, a record by John Coltrane featuring Eric Dolphy with the beautiful piece “India”, in which drums and bass were imitating tabla and tempoura while the saxophonist was pushing at the boundaries his concept of modality.

Then, it was the time for Mr Anthony Braxton and his 'pulse tracks' to realize a music that was compelled in blurring the boundaries between African American music and Indian music avoiding every possible 'fusion' as it happened in the 1970s, giving life to a structure that remains between the most innovative and aesthetically accomplished.

The reason why Indian music was so interesting for innovative improvisers was well explained in a chapter of Derek Bailey's “Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music” (Da Capo Press, 1993): in facts, Indian classical music features a huge amount of improvisation. Ravi Shankar is an improviser as much as a composer, and this is the same tradition of people as Coltrane and Braxton.

Umberto Tricca
Now, is the time for the young Italian guitarist Umberto Tricca to provide the world of improvised music with a new melting of jazz and Indian music. Tricca studied guitar at CEMM in Milano, then at the Berklee School of Boston. Then, he followed the lessons of arrangement with bassist Giovanni Tommaso and other courses, such as modern harmony and jazz harmony.

Umberto Tricca collaborated with musicians coming from Florence (Italy) such as Giancarlo Boselli and Masabo Trio, deepening his own studies on harmony and rhythmic conduction of musicians as Dave Holland and Steve Coleman. While experimenting with italian music revised in jazz, bossa nova and samba and contemporary jazz repertoire, he starts studying Indian music with tabla player Francesco Gherardi.

The result of these different experiences are available in his new record “Moksha Pulse” (Working Label, 2016) featuring Achille Succi (alto sax, bass clarinet), Giacomo Petrucci (baritone sax), Nazareno Caputo (vibraphone), Gabriele Rampi Ungar (bass) and Bernardo Guerra (drums). As happened with Braxton and Coltrane, you will not find any ethnic inclination in this record.

The tracks of the album show the love Umberto Tricca has for Indian music, the counterpoints of Afro Cuban rhumbas, and contemporary music – you will hear in 'Prelude' an influence by some Iannis Xenakis compositions. The name of the project comes from the Sanskrit word 'Moksha', that means 'emancipation' underlying the choice of leaving every predetermined structure, developing the possible interactions between those traditions and musical languages.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Masao Adachi “AKA Serial Killer” (1969)

Masao Adachi
“Instead of replacing the camera with the rifle, why not have one in each hand?” – Masao Adachi

Born in 1939 in Fukoka, Japan, Masao Adachi was one of the preeminent figures in revolutionary cinema during the 1960s/1970s. He was a close collaborator of filmmaker Koji Wakamatsu, and both had the same photographer director, the legendary Hideo Ito. Masao Adachi provided the scripts for such masterpieces of Wakamatsu as The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966) and Violated Angels (1967).

After directing his own movies, dealing with left-wing political themes and sex, quite often mixed together, Adachi left cinema for revolution, joining the Japanese Red Army to organize terror attack. But the reason we remember Adachi here at Complete Communion is one film, titled AKA Serial Killer, we saw yesterday night for the first time, even if the movie was released in 1969.

Masahiko Togashi - Mototeru Takagi "Isolation"
AKA Serial Killer was the film that defined the 'landscape theory' for which he is credited as one of the founders, but that has many followers in Europe – the most famous are Jean Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet: it is a radical Marxist theory stating that the landscape is a pure expression of the dominand political power. In showing the landscape, we show different degrees of alienation.

To demonstrate this theory, Adachi focuses on the story of Norio Nagayama, a 19 year old boy convicted for the murders of four people in four different Japanese cities. Adachi narrates with his own voice the life of Nagayama, while the images show landscapes of the places in which the killer lived.

This way, the movie is an act of accusation of the alienation that forced Nagayama to become an assassin. To help this, the movie is provided of a beautiful, sharp soundtrack of free jazz. The musicians involved are Masahiko Togashi (drums, vibraphone, marimba, timpani, percussions) and Mototeru Takagi (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet).

The music from the movie was collected in 1969 in a record titled Isolation (Take One Records), reissued in 2000 by Columbia and in 2005 by Bridge. There's lot of space in it, a meditative atmosphere broken by the saxophones and their cries. But it's the mix of images and music in the film by Adachi that creates a fascinating documentary of an era, an era in which the arts were all at the service of the revolution, of social change, and it is this era that we want to celebrate with this post, inviting all of you to enjoy both the music and the movie.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Žiga Koritnik's “JAZZY-GA!”

Žiga Koritnik's “JAZZY-GA!”
In Der Schillerstrasse 106
10625 Berlin – Charlottenbourg
Vernissage: Monday 31.10.2016 H. 7.00 PM

Paul Lovens photographed by Ziga Koritnik

Žiga Koritnik has been capturing images of musicians since 1987. He lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he is a regular guest on the music scene and documents the Ljubljana jazz festival, the Druga godba festival, concerts in Cankarjev dom and various other events across Europe, both large and small, including Saalfelden jazz festival, Konrontationen in Nickelsdorf, Vienna jazz festival in Austria, Musique Mettisses in Angouleme, France, Womad in Reading, England and the Talos Festival in Ruvo di Puglia, Musica Sulle Bocche, Sardegna-Italy, and the Vision festival in New York. Since 1996 he has been a resident photographer of the Skopje jazz festival in Macedonia, where each year a calendar with his photos is published. In 2001 he held a major exhibition at the Skopje City Museum to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival, which was accompanied by a book predominantly featuring Koritnik's photographs. In 2001 he spent seven weeks in New York, where he documented the Vision Festival and became acquainted with the musical and artistic events in the city. He was afforded the opportunity to exhibit in the Kavehaz Gallery in Soho. In June 2006 he was invited back to New York to exhibit his work at the Vision jazz festival, at the Angel Orensanz Center. His photographs are regularly published in Slovene newspapers and magazines (including Delo, Mladina, Muska, and Fotografija) as well as in international publications (Time Out, Jazz Times, Jazziz, Signal to Noise, Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, Ballett Internationale, Village Voice, All About Jazz, Downbeat, Jazznyt, etc.). 

He is also involved in theater photography and has regularly collaborated with Mladinsko gledališče Ljubljana. He has worked with Iztok's Kovač's En-Knap dance company, documenting performances, and shooting an accompanying film of their performance Daleč od spečih psov (Far from Sleeping Dogs), as well as a film about composer Vinko Globokar, Krotilci časa (The Time Tamers) and Metod Pevec’s film Beneath Her Window, which got many awards at the Slovenian Film Festival and was the Slovenian candidate for the Academy Awards in 2005. From 1989 until August of 2006 he has been employed by the Slovenia’s national television station, Televizija Slovenija, as a TV and film cameraman, and has worked with directors Maja Weiss, Peter Braatz, Amir Muratović, Sašo Podgoršek and Michael Benson, and others. In 2001 he documented the making of Peter Greenaway's Map to Paradise exhibition in Ljubljana, which was later that year followed by the publication of a book with extracts from his documentation of Greenaway's film, the creation of which is still underway. In 1996 he self-published a book of photographs entitled Jazzyga! (Jazz-It!). To mark the occasion, he held an exhibition at a major European jazz festival in Saalfelden, Austria. He was invited back to the festival in 2003. 

His photos have also appeared in many books by other authors, including a book on the sculptor Jakov Brdar, whose sculpting of general Rudolf Meister he documented, and Colours of Music, published on the 20th anniversary of the Saalfelden Jazz Festival. Žiga Koritnik also created the cover of the Slovene translation of Miles Davis’ autobiography. He invited photographers Mauro D'Agati, Raffaella Cavalieri, Matthiass Creutziger, Manfred Rinderspacher, Jak Kilby, Luca D'Agostino and Enid Farber to exhibit at the Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Slovenia. In 2004 he made a joint photography exhibition featuring the works of Slovenian music photographers. He has collaborated with the publishers of Mladinska knjiga magazines, and the company Hit Nova Gorica. He is a member of the Jazz Journalists Association. His photographs were included with CDs released by labels such as Tzadik, Intuition Music, Nika Records, Trost Records, The Thing Records and Leo Records. In 1997 the Italian photo magazine Zoom featured a presentation article on Žiga Koritnik. In 2005, his work was presented on 16 pages in Jazznin, a Japanese jazz magazine. He held more than 60 solo and 40 group exhibitions at home and abroad (Slovenia, Italy, USA, Austria, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Monte Negro, Ireland, Japan...). Since 2005, he is a regular visitor of Sardinia, Italy, where he documented the Musica Sulle Bocche Festival, Ai Confini tra Sardegna E Jazz Festival, and the Isola delle Storie Festival of Literature several times. In collaboration with Tumbarinos di Gavoi and Jana Project, he published their book about the Sardinian carnival in 2009. He still documents the carnival every year. In 2009 he published a book of black and white photo impressions of Lake Bohinj, Slovenia. He regularly organizes music and landscape photography workshops at home and abroad. He has received the Special Recognition Award at the Olympus photo competition in Japan, and the Zlata diploma (Golden diploma) award for the annual report by HIT Nova Gorica. The internet edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica has an entry on Koritnik’s first website, created in 1996 (, under The Web's Best Sites.

The Exibition will be held from October 31 to November 6

See also: