Spring - Dark clouds - Lento estivo - Autunnale - Semplicemente tu - Children song n° 6 - Parte I: Kind im Einschlummern; Parte II: Sogni Bambini;
Parte III: Kind im Einschlummern - Momenti - Parte I: Vom Fremden Ländern und Menschen; Parte II: Romantici spaesamenti;
Parte III: Vom Fremden Ländern und Menschen - Mystical - Lullaby for Cichito
Gianmario Liuni (piano), Tito Mangialajo Rantzer (double bass), Alessio Pacifico (drums and percussion)
Original compositions and arrangements: Gianmario Liuni
except Kind im Einschlummern and Vom Fremden Ländern und Menschen (Schumann);
Children song n° 6 (Chick Corea)
Milano - October 24th,25th, 2005
Advice Music CD AM 007.
DE TRICERCANDO: OBSERVATIONS
Since the beginning of the XVI century, the term "Research" referred to an instrumental composition in free form developed through imitation, generally in canonical form. From a strictly etymological point of view, it could indicate both the search for the instrument's timbre and phonic possibilities and the study for the counterpoint opportunities that a given musical idea offered; from here the two most common aspects of "Research:" improvisation on one hand and imitation on the other, articulating the latter in parts that are interconnected through the close relationships with the musical material used.
A rather academic departure, the reader would think, especially for a "jazz" record. But -my response – we are talking about music and music implies a story that has a common basis in all genres, a story that repeats, just like that of man. We are also discussing the art of a musician who has always proved to have at his heart the most hidden wrinkles of musical invention, those that surprise, especially those who make music, create it, expressing them- selves through small and unexpected spells. That's right, because what conquers me the most in Gianmario Liuni's music is that fresh feeling he unknowingly transmits – and I hope it is genuine – that, while composing and then playing, he is the first to be ama- zed by the notes that emerge, not only in a professional sense, but in an infinitely passionate one. And the long chats on composition or music history that we recently had demonstrate and confirm it.
Getting back to "Research," conducted in three – as if music made alone were to lose that extra magic that is born from the encounter of different souls. Search and investigate: almost by constitution, Gianmario's composition forms and is conducted by gradual accumulation beginning from a cell or pattern that is immediately exposed, declared as an essential base for the entire piece. The antique imitation technique is now substituted by that of repetition or reproposition of a baseline, a rhythm, a melody, a short harmonic trip, a shape or emotion; with a constant surprise effect that becomes a structural element of the actual composition, like a refrain.
Going in order, almost as if to trace an aural route: an exclusively personal direction, it should be clear, born simply and sincerely while listening – four disorderly seasons open the red curtains of the CD. Spring, more than the season, but as a water source or fountain, gushes at every hint of improvisation. The piano's rhythmic pattern gives way to the contrabass so that it may be the first to chant the cascading and lighthearted theme of Dark Clouds, cold winter clouds that suddenly darken the sky until a gust of wind blows them away. Gianmario is a real maestro in the art of tracing with just a few notes, not a panorama, but the emotion that the panorama transmits; and this is where the skin appears to chill for the frost that takes you by surprise on a cold winter's day. It isn't even hot in the subsequent Lento Estivo: because the weather mixes with the gradual passing of summer, or, perhaps, it mixes with September's memory of the summer - so full of melancholy and illustrated by the short thematic refrain that appears and quickly disappears. Even slower and relentless, the solemn advance of Autunnale, somber like the distinct thoughts of the left hand on the piano, the song's only rhythmic pattern. A song without words, Semplicemente tu: the title's tu (you) seems to refer to the listener because it seems as though he's the one who has been invited to add words, dictated by his or her life for a very sweet melody that slowly moves away. Chick Corea's Children Song n. 6, announces the second part of the CD, dedicated to that little corner of childhood that has survived in each of us. Bravo, Gianmario, for not having forgotten that 2006 celebrates Mozart's 250th birthday, but also 150 years since Schumann's death! Very few have done it and you celebrate them with too small jewels (dedicated to the children who are just beginning to learn to play the piano) Kind im Einschlummern and Von Fremden Ländern und Menschen¸ which you interrupt and enrich and develop (the intent of "Research" is always present) from free improvisations on thematic material. Bravo, because they are not mere musical divertissements, but opportunities to once again remember past studies and perha- ps think of those to come (of his children), commemorating those two pieces and with a nostalgic smile, intentionally playing them "badly," to make up for the hours spent attempting to play them "well" - like the teacher wanted. A small bit of revenge, but done with such touching affection; especially if we accept the intermezzo Momenti as the piece that offers the right code key, opening with the drum cymbals that undress the melody's Schumann theme, restoring the only rhythmic figure, like an echo that dissolves like smoke illuminated by a lantern. We've almost reached the end. Mystical once again proposes a common structure to Liuni's music (the bass starts with a rhythmic figure, fundamental to the creation of the piece), but the Gianmario's imagination surprises again, capable of always narrating something new with so few notes. But narrating to whom? Maybe and foremost to those who always listen to him at home: that "Cichito" from the last Lullaby, a lullaby that does not so much as sing softly, but instead, contains that upward movement that seems to embrace the sleeping "Cichito," taking him from the coach to bed. The rattle has fallen from his hands. We pick it up and follow him, thankful for this brief trip through the life and memories of everyone.
Trio has been discussed for years as the germ cell of jazz music and in fact, this small ensemble still exerts an irresistible charm on many piano players and other musicians not only because of tradition but also because it represents a crucial turning point in the elaboration of one's identity.After the works I have done in larger ensembles in my artistic path, my work in trio is a moment of pure intimacy, a moment of respite, a pause for meditation, a privileged dialogue between friends exchanging secrets while enjoying mutual presence.Here, I uncover – as the trio after all demands– my personality in its different forms, spanning from the cheerfulness of tunes like "Spring" or Lullaby for Chiquito" (my son Federico) to the melancholy of "Romantici spaesamenti", from my love for the exuberant Africa of "Sogni bambini" to the anguishing sorrow of "Autunnale".All this, not in the sublime and ruthless solitude of piano solo, but in the comforting presence of a gathering of souls. As a matter of fact, listening to the entire work again some time after we made it, I was surprised by its absolute lack of voids: no hint, no word was dispersed in thin air or indifference but rather, continually reprised or re-thought by each of the band members with an attention that implies both care and interest toward each other.In this sense, which is the most beautiful and for which I thank them with deep affection, Alessio and Tito worked with me in an extraordinary way, getting into the songs and letting themselves be fully involved, speaking with me and talking about them.Tricercando (Triseeking) is dedicated to my parents who have been asking for a work in trio for a while; my thank you goes to them then, for this and for much more.
Gianmario Liuni - (note di copertina)
Open letter from Bruno Pollacci:Dear Gianmario,how wonderful it is to listen to your new cd. Every day I listen to dozens, hundreds of cds, one after the other, from all over the world, and at this point it is extremely difficult to surprise me, to really grab my attention. Your project struck me at once for it's richness and quality. The many and varied strands combine, like a sort of DNA, the accomplishments of the best of the historic European past, while simultaneously being open to modernity. My heart opens to your “Italian musicality,” an approach which offers a unique take on jazz, demonstrating that your jazz doesn't necessarily have to mimic anything, nor does it have to grasp for other cultures—Africa, the Balkan states, or the Mideast, for example—in the desperate yet futile quest to be only different. Yours is a jazz, instead, which quite naturally plumbs the immense depths of the harmonic and poetic universe of our infinite and great culture. Of course, in the end, it is the uniqueness of your soul that shows itself in this marvelous and romantic elegance; it is your musical intuition that allows these intoxicating emotions to unfold, from the delicate but luminous hope to the hidden modesty of a soul at the sad margins. Like the scent of grass after the rain, there is in your compositions the inviting “discreet flight through the harmonic colors,” and one realizes that every creative decision has been informed by a life lived with sincere emotional presence, with a poetic soul, with kindness, with love.It is a mature work, but at the same time fresh, because it is clean, pure, candid.Special mention must also be given to Mangialajo Rantzer and Pacifico, two artists who bring a great sensitivity to every project in which they participate, whether as leaders or collaborators, two absolutely professional accomplices who give great creative and expressive prufundity to every beat of this musical project.Thank you for this latest work of great music. It will be a true pleasure to promote it on my program, and I am happy that via the internet, “Animajazz” is heard worldwide so it is possible for the world at large to hear the level we have reached with our new jazz.
I salute you heartily.
Bruno Pollacci (Animajazz) - Pisa
Review and interview by Matteo Brancaleoni "Jazz Magazine" Aprile 2007:
Review taken from "All About Jazz Italia":One can find every feeling of the human soul in this recording of Gianmario Liuni, who on this occasion utilizes a trio, possibly the unit that more than any other allows for an introspective approach, reflexive and at the same time relating and interactive.Consequently, the natural result is the variety of moods that impart on the eleven tracks of the album, bound between them by a fine red thread of discretion, of whispering rather than shouting. In this, an important role is played by bassist Mangialajo Rantzer, impeccable in his timing, powerful, warm and emcompassing in his sound, inventive in his phrasing, and by Alessio Pacifico's volatile drums, gentle but constantly moving.“Tricercando” seems to play its best cards with the first three tracks: “Spring” is sluggishly sparkling with a sensation of serentiy that grabs at the first listen; “Dark Clouds” is a tango that distills melancholy and passion into a mood more easily mediterranean; “Lento Estivo” possesses the magic force of attraction of the finest melodies and grows with intensity through a progressive procession of accumulation. After these, the thread mentioned above slackens a bit before resuming with vigor at the end with “Lullaby for Cichito,” a sort of anthem for hope and the future.A complex and interesting disc even if, while appreciating the expressive fertility of Liuni, seventy minutes appears excessive.
Vincenzo Roggero, (All About Jazz Italia)
Review taken from "Studi Cattolici", July 2007:
Gianmario Liuni's boundless creativity has always derived from a meticulous and deliberate effort to rise above traditional music genres through a musical concept that, as Liuni himself points out, has “common origins and a history that repeats itself, exactly like the history of mankind.” This rather romantic idea is promoted by Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, one of the great advocates of musical “purity” that is timeless and cannot be labeled. If we look at the object of our discussion through the eyes of the “historicist” or through Proust's “telescope,” we realize that Music is universal, for it inspired the song of Stone Age hunter-gatherers, accompanied the magical propitiatory rites of the Roman Lustrals, and opened the dances in the Renaissance courts. The work of this young musician from the Lombardy Region of Italy who has recorded and released the beautiful CD “ Tricercando ” (2006, Advice Music, distributed by It-Why) delves deep within to analyze and reveal the secret of Sound with a capital “S” from the musically, melodically, and rhythmically free perspective of jazz. His work also presents an original new take on the classics, starting with Chick Corea's “ Children's Songs ,” in which quick jig-like triplets are followed by soaring, meditative passages, and ending with two real gems of musical classicism, both by Schumann (“ Kinderszenen , op.15” is the obvious point of reference). Authentic and plagal cadences give a complete sense to the phrasing, and its classicism is never dusty or tired: on the contrary, it is given a refreshing new twist through the curious eyes of one who loves rhythm and the vital energy that flows from the music through its sounds, miraculous harmonies, and figures sculpted in the rocks of time. Schumann-esque traces soon make way for the blues, which is certainly not a bad thing if one remembers that precisely the crystallization of rhythm and the related “incompleteness” of the cadences, due to an obstinate compulsion for repetition that would eventually lead the composer to depression and suicide (“the ancient technique of imitation is now replaced by repetition,” wrote Marco Iannelli in the refined presentation of this CD), are salient characteristics of the German composer, and they are used to create a cohesive mood in this wonderful CD as well. Everything is subject to a poised, pondered process of “slow accumulation”.
It emerges, for example, in the bolero rhythm that Liuni skillfully uses in his “descending and carefree” “Dark Clouds,” with octaves in the basso ostinato, which were also favored by Paderewski and Rachmaninov. But we believe that accumulation is also the best way to deal with the irresistible culture of the Twentieth Century, a true masterpiece of the stratification and scientific interpretation of seemingly fortuitous, gratuitous, and random things, which also legitimized the advent of the Postmodern era.The “romantic disorientation” to which Liuni dedicates the tenth song (“Mystical”) evokes a sense of losing one's bearings in the restless shadows of a culture too stifling to be able to restore to us even a small part of what humanity gave us over the centuries: the German word for this concept is “Entfremdung ,” which means estrangement or alienation. In fact, this breath can be heard in the next to last track. Liuni's piano technique favors big, bright, full chords that soar in the treble range of the piano like kites or a meteor. Or a comet (Hale-Bopp is depicted on the cover). The music is not dark and gloomy: it is more akin to the enchantingly vibrant spirit of Schumann than to the shadowy, mournful soul of Schubert. Too melodic to be inspired by Brahms, it is melodic enough to be related to the mature Romanticism of his successors. Liuni's right hand gleans sounds like drops of water, clean rivulets that swirl in sonorous spirals and evanescent arabesques: they are “fleeting visions” that never tire the listener.The eleventh and final track -- a lullaby written for his son Federico -- lets Liuni show off his mastery of instrumental counterpoint, performed with bassist Tito Mangialajo Rantzer, a true virtuoso (his awesome pizzicato playing in the beginning of the development of the theme, is truly touching). For Liuni, counterpoint is always a chance to create a “fellowship of souls,” as the artist himself points out, that is the authentic spirit of every ensemble and form of “Hausmusik,” whether classical or jazz, that allows its performers to listen to themselves and others and to interact with them. This is truest spirit of “communion” or, as a theorist would say, of “consonance”: a communion of sounds, chords, and souls. Liuni “has the groove.” The lush sound, captivating melodies, compelling rhythms, harmonic counterpoint, the excellent balance between the instruments, and practically perfect timing are utterly enjoyable, exciting, and fascinating. Liuni's trio is great. The trio is an excellent musical form that Beethoven and Brahms loved; Keith Jarrett is also a fan of the trio today. Gianmario Liuni's new CD should be heard. Right now. Those of us who have heard it have been absolutely wowed and are grateful that real musicians like Luini still exist.
Carlo Alessandro Landini
Review taken from "Musica Jazz " December 2007, Year 63°, N° 12:
A key for interpreting this CD is the fact that it features two pieces from Schumann's Scenes From Childhood Op. 15 (Child Falling Asleep and the famous Of Strange Lands and People) besides Chick Corea's Children's Songs and Liuni's own compositions Sogni Bambini and Lullaby For Cichito . Liuni's trio deliberately seeks childlike simplicity: clear melodies, a sense of repetition with an almost singsong feel, a dreamy air of a little boy with his head in the clouds, and a few slightly spooky fairytale-like touches ( Dark Clouds, Autunnale, which is an excellent piece with a vaguely sinister Oriental mood). There is no flashy display of virtuosity, and not even a moment that lets loose with a swing tempo, save for a subdued passage in “ Momenti”. While the trio's slow tempo does not always keep the listener's attention, the idea is original and the ensemble playing of the three musicians (who all focus on color) is awesome. Liuni toys with pauses and uses the pedal extensively. Mangialajo is one of those bass players that make their instrument sing, and Pacifico creates shimmering effects that make the most of the cymbals.
Piacentino (Musica Jazz)