Saturday, February 25, 2012

Marco Cappelli Acoustic Trio - Les Nuages En France (Mode, 2011)

Words and photos: Gian Paolo Galasi

Marco Cappelli with Marc Ribot, Pavia, Apr. 6 2011
Marco Cappelli is a composer and improviser. One of the rare figures that you can find in an international contemporary music festival and, not that much later, in a small record shop playing one set on solo guitar before small and young experimental combos. 

While I strongly advice the reader to take time and reflect on practices that are related both to today's business ethics, so to speak, and to a musician's personal approach, I'd like to start my review of his Acoustic Trio's Les Nuages En France (Mode Records, 2011) with some biographical hints. 

Born in Naples in 1965, Cappelli took his degree at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome in 1989. After studying chamber music in Basilea, and performing the music of Schonberg, Boulez, Kurtag and Scelsi, Cappelli became one of the co-founder of Dissonanzen, an association based in his home town whose goal is promoting and diffusing contemporary music, while at the same time he began to perform improvised music with the likes of Han Bennink, Anthony Coleman and Marc Ribot. 

His most internationally acclaimed personal project is EGP (Extreme Guitar Project), dedicated to the radical exploration of compositions kindly provided by downtown NY composers Elliott Sharp - a musicians with whom Cappelli has a great affinity, Anthony Coleman, Ikue Mori, Otomo Yoshihide and David Shea, performed with a guitar projected by Cappelli himself and provided with eight resonance strings. Issued on record by Mode, a label devoted to composers like Iannis Xenakis and Edgard Varèse, and chattered by The Wire, the project was premiered both in Naples by the Association Alessandro Scarlatti in 2003 and then in 2004 at the Issue Project Room in NY. 

For Les Nuages en France, inspired by Barbara Raggi's poems based on Fred Vargas' novels, Cappelli uses an acoustic guitar provided by Alessandro Marseglia, a luthier residing in Pozzuoli. With his Acoustic Trio, featuring Ken Filiano (Michael Moore, Roswell Rudd, Joelle Léandre, Warne Marsh, Jason Kao Hwang) on double bass and Satoshi Takeishi (Eliane Elias, Ray Barretto, Dave Liebman, Anthony Braxton, Eric Friedlander) on percussions. 

Nocturne melodies gifted with a clustering crescendo, with arcoed bass and small percussions swirling all around, drums vamps shifting into the bass, reminiscent of the modus operandi typical of Sam Rivers - especially on some ole Blue Note records, guitar and bass on mood shifting, an elegant and melancholic sense of grooving is what gives life to a music that is 'cinematic' - and deeply rooted 'downtown', even if the relaxed - but intimately stretched - mood of the record tells so much about an era in which music can be also used as a vehicle to take time to ponder.

Not by chance in the liner notes Cappelli talks about the liaison between Fred Vargas stories, his father, and his music. It would be of worth to dedicate some time to Syntax Error (Marco Cappelli guitar, Daniele Ledda keyboards and live electronics, Roberto Pellegrini drums and percussions) project dedicated to Art Spiegelman's 'In the Shadow of No Towers', now on DVD, and featuring actor John Turturro. Both the projects seems to go in a direction that gives more power to captions than to a multilayered flow of energies aptly captured into structures created ad hoc. But this is most of the half of what sorts out of the Big Apple scenario since some years, possibly for complex reasons a trip to New York in the future maybe will give me time to deepen.

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