Ferdinando Romano double bass
Ralph Alessi trumpet on tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8
Simone Alessandrini alto & soprano sax
Tommaso Iacoviello flugelhorn on tracks 1, 3 & 7
Manuel Magrini piano
Nazareno Caputo vibraphone, marimba
Giovanni Paolo Liguori drums
Release No: LOS 242-2
180 gram LP info
Release No: LOS 242-1
Recorded, mixed and mastered October 10 and 11, 2019 by Stefano Amerio at Artesuono Recording Studios, Cavalcco, UD, Italy
Produced by Ferdinando Romano
Front cover photo by Ellen Ekevik
When I thought about giving a name to this album I was looking for an image, a symbol, that could be deeply representative of the music that I had written. Being my musical sources and experiences so much variegated, I needed something that could synthesize it as a whole. Then, the image of the Totem came to my mind.
A Totem is a symbol that represents a natural or spiritual entity which has a particular meaning for a single person or even for a large group of people. In an artistic sense, each of us has got his own Totems, they are our references, our lighthouses and also the people we met and whom we shared musical and artistic experiences with. However, the single Totems can give life to a much bigger one, something that is much more than the sum of the parts and that represents the creative synthesis of our musical personality, giving birth to something new.
After listening to the band playing live, the writer Federico Fini said: “Totem is a sort of narration in music of the monolite made of memories, convictions and roots around which we dance all our life”. I immediately found these words very effective and representative of my work. They also made to my mind the image of the painting “The Dance” by Henry Matisse, a work that I have always associated with “The Rite of Spring”, by Igor Stravinsky, one of the most totemic compositions of all times.
Artistically, this album represents an important step for me. It is my first work as a leader, entirely thought and written following a personal process. I let myself free in writing music and I got inspired by different sources and directions; in this sense, I feel it is music with no limitations.
My love for jazz, my classical composition studies, and the love for contemporary music have melted naturally, without forgetting a continuous search for melody, even in the most dissonant contexts.Getting to the point of writing and realizing this album has been a long but really joyful work for me.
In composing, I have given particular attention to the form of the tunes, making large use of development and avoiding more classical forms. The melodies stated at the beginning of the tune don’t always come back in the end and when they do, it is always in a different way than before, with a different arrangement or even in the form of another melodic line which is the full development of the original one.
This happens, for example, in the first track, The Gecko. Geckos are animals that, at an archetypal level, represent perseverance, tenacity and regeneration combined with tranquility. The tune starts with a persistent bass pedal on top of which harmonies flow, while Ralph Alessi plays an evocative solo. This simple idea develops all along the tune, keeping the regularity of the rhythmic cell but evolving the bass line, the harmony and the melodies, changing more than once until the final peace is achieved, where the tranquillity of the gecko is evoked.
Sea Crossing (Part 1 and Part 2) is more like a suite. The image I thought of is the one of a ship at the mercy of the waves and the sea. It has been written using techniques from serial composition. The series is stated at the beginning and it immediately divides into two parallel lines that move in two different tonalities, finding consonance only in a careful use of counterpoint. Then, they immediately break up again into improvisations, a tempest that ends into the calm of a piano choral, an improvised piano transition gradually bringing back to the original material, organized in different melodic lines but still connected to the initial statement.
As for Memories Reprise, I rewrote and rearranged an old composition to which a gave a new life. The tune has a more orchestral conception and has connections with the Italian sound of the Mediterranean melodies.
Evocation and Wolf Totem have been inspired to me by reading the book “Wolf Totem”, by Jiang Rong, a beautiful novel on which Jean-Jacques Annaud also based a very intense film.
It is the story of the relationship between Man and Nature. A young Chinese student is sent to Mongolia to educate the local nomadic shepherds and becomes deeply fascinated by their world, their connection with nature and their veneration for the great architect of the balance of the ecosystem, the wolf. Men respect and admire the qualities of the wolf while they struggle with him at the same time, always considering him as a God, as their Totem. I tried to paint in music the images of the landscapes, people and animals described in the novel, with the final arrival of the wolf.
Curly is a tender ballad. The intensity is gradually built. The first head is stated by piano and vibes only, while the other instruments enter gradually, building the climax reached with the counterpoint choral in the final.
As regards Mirrors, the title of the tune itself was suggested by the way I composed it. Melodic fragments chase each other in a specular counterpoint, almost tirelessly, without creating a stable tonal center. The improvisations are built by playing with timbres and acoustic sound effects, overlapping with the harmonic setting.
In creating the band, I chose some of my favorite musicians, with whom I feel a deep affinity in the way we approach music. I think they are some of the most creative and interesting musicians in the Italian scene.
We all immediately established a great feeling with Ralph and his contribution to music was so deep and natural that it seemed we had been playing together for really a long time.