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INTERWIEW TO PIETRO CONDORELLI
by Carmine Leone.
(Translation by Emanuele Condorelli)

    
Q: In jazz music, the  Dvds contain almost simple recordings of concerts; for what reasons did you have felt the need of this record support ?
In other words, why did you feel the need for texts and images in addition to music?
A: Before answering I would go a little bit “back in time”. I consider myself lucky to meet the music  on my way; because I have a very radical character that could have taken me  on the margins of society or make rash acts. The music has saved me and so is part of my existence, the music is  in relation with my other passions, such as literature – I have graduated in DAMS in Bologna - and I  had always a passion for movies. So, to answer you, everything that has been done in the DVD, music, text and images,was born from these aspects of my personality.
I actually spent  my life in  music: planes, trains, travel on the highwayed, I just relax and ate little and in a very bad way. I quit that life (which gave me great satisfaction,  with the exception of the economic point of view)  almost twenty years ago. Now I work with more relax than in the past, in a way that is more suitable to my pace. My present work  is inspired by the kind of needs I feel in the present period.

Q: It seems to me that this was also mentioned in the dialogue between the two chess players; this  game perhaps want to tell something about you, beyond the fact that you are a skilled player?
A: As the old tale of the fool who conceives the world like a huge chess game, I think this is a possible metaphor for life; in fact it has been used to express other concepts. Although this may seem a little rhetoric, these ideas  are not borrowed from readings, but this is my real way of perceiving things; nothing new, then, but I like to communicate it to others.
I wanted to do this  in the best way and so, I decided to use a  different line-up from the usual, with a main voice singing and acting, along with other narrators, and a new instrumentation .
This happened  because I wanted a different  sound from the standard  jazz sonorities. There is no piano, there are no reeds or brass instruments, but there is a flute.
It is commonly said that “the flute and guitar together sound a little cloying” . In this work instead there is a specific writing work to bring out the most of their qualities.

Q: We feel in the writing of two instruments, the guitar and the flute, that their volume is not loud, and  sometimes they are mixed with the human voice. This is like a brass section, a bit as Mingus did, evoking the Ellingtonian  sound just with  a sax and a trumpet .
A: Yes, sometimes two of these three 'instruments', in turn, work as background to the third.
Originally, there is still a desire on my part, considering my experience as an educator and as teacher, to communicate some things especially to the young people; this, because  the mass media only convey some messages and not others.
For example, it is an acclaimed idea that, even if you haven’t a special talent, but you have an image with a charming appeal, than you can became successful and be appreciated by the people.
On the contrary, I suppose that it may be a  good method to know how to do something, possibly above the average, to achieve a lasting success or at least to have a form of survival.

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Q: In this work one of  the main subjects discussed is television. I wanted to ask: whether this is an adaptation of a live show. In addition, I understand that you also recite, then you use the words a lot, which is the exact opposite of what normally happens during a jazz concert, in which the leader barely introduces  other members of the band and often he does not even say the song titles going to run. In summary, what happens in this show, during a live performance?
A: I think  that the frequent “self-reference” of some jazzmen doesn’t work  in a good way for  music. In the audience, there are also some people who are not regular listeners to this kind of music, a more efficient communication could greatly improve the involvement of the audience. Then, there is the problem of focus, that, at least at the beginning, must necessarily be held to  enjoy of music.
Jazz often seems to go in the opposite direction, some musicians may sometimes seem  only to enjoy the ego satisfaction without caring too much about the listener, and I certainly had the  same attitude in the past.
Over the past 25 years, the media have to turned off the interest in culture in general. Instead we need a generational change. There is the need to work so that this music may go on and  renew itself. A self-centered or self-referential attitude, certainly does not help. For these reasons we try to communicate from the stage a number of ideas (so the title Jazz, Ideas & Songs), conveyed by the recited or sung lyrics in the songs. These are (except  a couple of tunes) my songs in which it was added texts written by Simona, the singer, on the basis of suggestions and ideas that I provided. All this then assumes a compact, homogeneous and coherent form  even if this is often quite different from what you usually hear in a concert. I am very happy with the response we get, especially from the audience not involved in jazz.
In conclusion, I try to bring more people to the improvised music, and then I try to communicate my philosophy of life and my thoughts.
There is something funny, like  the legendary character in a movie: Colin McKenzie, who pushed me, long time ago, to compose a song dedicated to him in my album for the Red Record,'Quasimodo' with Fabrizio Bosso.This character was fictional, but I did not know!

Q: I understand then that this work is not strictly related with jazz circles, if that's what you propose also live.
A: After having participated in countless concerts and festivals, I feel I can say that the placement of this show is generally cultural festival; 'Jazz Ideas and Songs' can’t be characterized only as a work of jazz.


Q: Let's talk about the content; the articulation of the video is a series of short movies, each of which is set into a certain atmosphere, or periods during which there has been a blossoming of expressive forms not only in music. I wish you can  focus better on this aspect.
A: In part there is this idea: sometimes just  few symbols can  denote an age, clothing, hair styling, all set in a dream-like vision.
And this is the case of “Lost Generation” opening suite, dropped in a cultural environment  which I know very well, since it has been a part of my adolescence. I was interested in comparing my experience with that of other people to understand whether it were just my nostalgic interpretation, related to my youth or universally this time  was  felt in that way.
I have also learned from others that this period has been experienced in the same way, as well as other extraordinary periods for the development of music.
As a matter of fact,the period after the'80s ended badly. I am mainly talking of rock music. In previous years, however, even though maybe the musicians were not especially gifted, they tried  to produce music with their style, their own sound and they were therefore recognizable.
This made it impossible, for instance, that someone would had imitated other successful things, because it was contrary to the primary intention: to play your own music ...
What happened in those years(70 ‘s) is comparable to what happened after the war, in the bop period of Charlie Parker. The music we listen to today has a still a strong link with bebop;
Ornette Coleman too, a great innovator, was definitely influenced by Parker, swing and sound.

Q: We notice an extreme variety of situations and environments: you mentioned the 70s, bebop, Lennie Tristano, the imaginary Colin McKenzie, then there are songs that I think dissolve the tension between these things, but they are always recognizable in your way of playing and composing. You've come to play even a rap in your way; then you've come to our times.
A: To tell the truth, I did not want to actualize the things I do, which are fine as they are. To reflect well on, also this springs out from the tradition, sometimes maybe it becomes easy listening to sell but on the other hand it can become a way to communicate things, just like we did. African American music has a red  thread that goes through all these trends.

Q: So you consider your music as the development of musical trends, like Quincy Jones did.
A: Yes, because you can’t stop  listening to and  feeling the current sounds and then you try to include them in your work. I can’t  exclude that the next musical trip would lead  me to contemporary music influences, blues or Irish or Cuban music. I don’t  exclude anything about that, because I've never loved to have a single musical color.

Q: This may therefore represent the first step of a larger mosaic you're thinking?
A: Definitely yes, this is the main idea; I hope to continue with the same approach for the future. In the course of my career, as a freelance I played with various musicians in different projects. Other times I worked at my own music, as for the Red Record  Cd’s  or with Sonora Art Quartet.
In this project I wanted to put the same youthful spirit; though at the time I was convinced that one could change the world through music. I have had to learn that even  if you can’t change the world, you can try to improve the environment around you making a good music and showing others how to do.

Q: This was a very widespread belief, in the '70s .
A: I can’t  help but say it. This project has given to me  the same feeling and enthusiasm of the Sonora Art Quartet era, because I'm convinced that we are saying something new.

Q: Finally, how and where was this work created , that I know to be self-produced ?  
A: just  few words about this genesis: before recording, there was a work in progress started with some concerts .  I often  changed  music  time after time, forcing colleagues to play every time something new, maybe handing out scores  few hours before the concert, to check if the ideas would work. So the  whole project reached this form, but I have to say that in the next  future I will do the same: there will always be something changed, deleted or added, as I have continually new ideas.
The recording  materially occurred in very good  set in Caserta: DayTwenty9 by the “cultural association Feelix”.
The place is particularly good in acoustic, having been built to make  live music and the people who animate it are extraordinary, because they do it in an almost no profit spirit .
We succeeded in producing this project with a very low budget, entrusting the direction to a young musician who is also involved in video productions. It was our beginning experience. The director did well, although it was  for him  the first time he worked on such a long movie. We worked as: choreographers, writers, authors of texts (all unusual activities for us!), but the result is quite professional.

Q: So the opera  is recorded direct, live?
A: Yes, everything is played live, improvisations can’t be overdubbed in a movie. Even for this  we needed a real musician as director, able to follow the logic of theevents.




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