DANCES IN MY MIND (CANADA)
This project was born from a trip to Sicily with Dominic Mancuso, Canadian singer, guitarist and composer. A story of friendship, between enchanted beaches, unexpected almost paranormal encounters in Toronto, lots of seafood, wine and friends, improvised theater in various squares and nocturnal strumming: we began to think of an imaginary bridge between the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and America.
What an incredible story, the one of us Italians! We wanted to tell it our own way.
NAPOLI JAZZ SONGS
VITTORIO MEZZA TRIO (CANADA)
This record was born from an idea of my friend Jadro Subic who I met years ago in Montreal. I arrived in the city from New York by train, a wonderful journey: between deserted landscapes, rivers, breathtaking nature, I still remember the emotions that this slice of America gave me.
In response to my proposal of a pop-rock album arrangement to be recorded in acoustic jazz trio, Jadro simply replies: NAPLES!!!
And it was Naples, but in Canada, in the sense that I recorded some Neapolitan songs in Toronto with two extraordinary musicians: George Koller and Davide DiRenzo. How nice to interact with this trio by creating something so intuitive, solid, simple, metamorphic; too much fun to see the authentic Canadian spirit breathe Neapolitanity and its poems in music.
MMEQ – MEZZA MILZOW EUROPEAN QUARTET (GERMANY)
After MMP, it was decided with David Milzow to found a European quartet, almost as a natural evolution of the first project; a quartet that ranged between contemporary jazz and tradition in a very dynamic way, where the baritone sax and fender piano recreated surreal atmospheres, while the soprano and tenor encountered the blanket of the harmonic-rhythmic fabric of the acoustic piano. In a series of pindaric flights with the support of the drums, the general sound is vividly permeated by the strength of a European imprint.
A friendship, the one with David, which has led me on a tour in Germany every year since, meeting fantastic people, in a land that is a symbol of Europe and of history. Every time I am there, it makes me feel at home. Then I also had the opportunity to host the German quartet several times in Italy, in an equally uplifting and motivating exchange.
CONVERGENCE – MEZZA GINSBURG ENSEMBLE (SOUTH AFRICA/AUSTRALIA)
This is another beautiful story of friendship and extraordinary people and families. I met Mark Ginsburg (saxophonist and composer) in New York. We both went to follow David Liebman’s masterclass and talking with the latter on the phone, he told me that, at that precise moment, there must be a saxophonist named Mark at Penn Station from where I was calling, who was also going to follow his course.
To date, I still don’t know how I did it but, once hung up the phone to the public call box, in a sharp second, I was able to identify Mark among thousands and thousands of people, simply thanks to the shape of his saxophone case: he was the only one having it in that incredible American chaos! As soon as I saw him – in that chaotic crossroads that is Penn Station at rush hour – I went to meet him without hesitation and said: ”Sorry but you are Mark and you are going to Liebman’s masterclass”. His reaction, somewhat surprised, was: ”How do you know …? ”. And I: ”Shall we go together?”
Since then, we have been friends and, from year to year, pandemics permitting, we carry out projects all over the world, collaborating with musicians from South Africa to Australia passing through Italy!
MMP – MEZZA MILZOW PROJECT (GERMANY)
The history of our partnership is now more than ten years old, both me and David Milzow (saxophonist and composer) studied in the United States with the great David Liebman, teacher and historic saxophonist alongside Miles Davis in the early 1970s. This was the first record with David Milzow, very special, because it was decided to record in a trio setup without bass – ‘bassless’ as the Americans say -, with piano, saxophones and drums.
A project that is not easy to manage for a pianist who has to completely rethink the set-up and interaction between the two hands. ‘’Your left shall not know what your right is doing” is a beautiful sentence taken from the Gospel according to Matthew, just to underline the great independence of the limbs which is necessary, in my opinion, to create the particular sounds and rhythmic stratifications we got in this ensemble.
VITTORIO MEZZA TRIO (ITALIA)
You never forget your first trio album! Born in a very simple way, it turned out to be a project of international importance: with Massimo Moriconi on bass and Ettore Fioravanti on drums. At that time I had the intuition that the fusion of musicians with such different backgrounds, the first omnivore/pop /jazz, the other an acoustic jazz purist, in the end, could give back something magical, essential and unique. In summary, the final result was exceeding the sum of the parts, inexplicably.
Here was my Italian ‘’triangle’’ fully manifested: plenty of energy, brilliance, heterogeneity, experience, magma, pure contemporary trio, Italian but with a strongly international sound.
Not my first solo piano recording, because I’ve always liked playing in solo, but the first published one. A very varied work, which sees me shaping original compositions, songs, jazz standards, contemporary music, all distilled in a raw, original, distinct and sometimes brutal pianism.
A photograph of my evolving soloism, me and the piano alone, challenging us from piece to piece, moving the bar higher and higher. I remember that back then as now, I was looking for the clarity of a crystal sound, the purity of harmonics, my breath that crosses the magical scaffolding of this great instrument and dissolves.
Stefano and Vittorio are match made in heaven, they are so complementary: the silent singing of the bass, dark and ancient, ‘Mingusian black’, welcomes and displaces the fierce poetry of the piano and its cascades of dizzying cries, cries always at the edge of something. Both on the run, “I don’t know what I’m looking for, but when I find it I recognize it”. And I recognized many emotions, strong and tender images of passion and amazement, of listening in the desire of the other and of moving along common lines of variation, invented by the two musicians in that moment – what a wonderful interaction! – and that collides with current systems, which tend to foolishly entertain or please at all cost like well-packaged products. Here we are, however, finally, outside the labels, MP2 speaks only one language but in a bilingual way: as Deleuze would say, they can “speak in their own language like a foreigner. You should be able to write in the same way as a mouse twists its tail, a bird whistles or a feline moves or sleeps heavily”. This is what happens in the forest that we cross listening to this excellent work, up to the final trumpeting of Theme for Ayrton, beyond which words are lost to reach the ineffable.
PIANO SOLO – SKETCHES OF CINEMA and more
Creative reworking of some soundtracks taken from the XX Century Italian cinema to celebrate in particular the union among some of the greatest Italian directors and composers: from Federico Fellini with Nino Rota, to Ettore Scola with Armando Trovajoli, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi with Ennio Morricone, Enrico Maria Salerno with Stelvio Cipriani, Luigi Zampa with Piero Piccioni. The program also includes original pieces and some unscheduled ones such as the homage to Franco Battiato, Chick Corea (both recently passed away) and Michel Petrucciani.
It was not easy to find my way around the choice of songs – in such a vast and interesting panorama – but what influenced me the most was the unparalleled interpretations of some characters who have become true icons of the ‘900; artists who have narrated, through their recitative verve, the history and culture of our great country, enhancing it under various aspects: let’s think of Alberto Sordi, Monica Vitti, Marcello Mastroianni, Giancarlo Giannini, Ciccio Ingrassia, Pupella Maggio, Carlo Verdone, only to name a few. The concert aims to attract and encourage, in terms of usability and transversality, the interest of listeners in our country – above all in this very difficult pandemic period that we are going through – and to promote it adequately, with the maximum enhancement and advertising, the image itself. In a nutshell: the art of making Italian music.
ORCHESTRATIONS for soundtracks
These are samples of orchestrations made both personally and in collaboration with some colleagues of mine, including Giovanni Scapecchi.
NEAD (New Electro Acoustic Dimension) – solo synthesizer
A crossover work born ”under covid”, more precisely during the first tragic lockdown. I began to explore the possibility of using electronic sounds (which I obviously knew, having played keyboards in the past) looking for a deep acoustic sense with a solo live performance approach, in which the sound interaction and the immediate improvisational possibility was the highest possible, structural and structuring. It helped me a lot to spend whole days thinking about how to set the sounds, combine them together, navigate the KRONOS (my digital workstation) and, above all, find the right improvisational feeling with a certain dose of dynamism, lightness, freshness, all these characteristics contrasting at the time we were all experiencing.
JULIET & ROMEO IN JAZZ (NOT SHAKESPEARE BUT BANDELLO) – THEATRE SHOW
The acoustic piano and saxophone duo seem to be able to play anything, ranging from Nino Rota to Piotr Tchaikovsky, through total improvisation, Charles Mingus, Louis Armstrong, Burt Bacharach, Billie Holiday, some of my original songs, up to Bruce Springsteen!
Apparently all this might seem like a big full cauldron but the overall coherence is evident: the listener is kidnapped and thrown in the progress of the novel and the scenes unfold in a succession of tension until the final act, where the most famous love drama in history takes place.
AUDITORIUM ”CASA DEL JAZZ” – ROME: