Hear in Now, ‘Leaving Livorno’ A thick splash of sound — not a warning shot so much as a call to focus — begins “Leaving Livorno,” the second track on “Not Living in Fear,” the sophomore album by the improvising trio Hear in Now. The cellist Tomeka Reid and the double bassist Silvia Bolognesi fold into a grounded, three-beat pattern as the violinist Mazz Swift glides over them, her knowing melody flowing across the bar lines. Small groups making creative music often call themselves collectives, but there’s something particularly credible about this trio: The group’s energy doesn’t refract through the prism of any single voice. A few moments of brief and total silence divide up this short piece. The last comes after a brief, discursive solo turn from Ms. Reid; the group seems to sink one level deeper into its conversation. Some of the same motifs from the earlier rhythmic section return, but now the instruments are freer bodies of sound, swimming in an unsynchronized motion, slowing down and leading each other toward rest. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO - nytimes.com
Silvia Bolognesi (double bass) Silvia Bolognesi's deep doublebass sound is as contagious as her smile. Her projects naturally connect roots and avant-garde, a Mingus-like approach that allows her to collaborate with many inspiring partners in Italy as well as in Chicago. The trio Hear In Now sees Silvia's bass triangulate with "string sisters" cellist Tomeka Reid and violinist Mazz Swift, while the Almond Tree quartet triggers original interactions with trombone (the talented Tony Cattano) and vibes (Pasquale Mirra—for more on him, see below). Suggested listening: Silvia Bolognesi: Chicago Sessions (Fonterossa Records, 2017) Silvia Bolognesi: Almond Tree (Fonterossa Records, 2017) - allaboutjazz.com
Episode 7: Tomeka Reid January 5, 2018Podcastaacm, Anthony Braxton, art ensemble of Chicago, Jaimie branch, Jason Ajemian, Mary Halvorson, mazz swift, mike reed, nick Mazzarella, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, Silvia Bolognesi, Tomas Fujiwara, Tomeka Reidpdfreeman The seventh episode of the Burning Ambulance podcast features an interview with cellist Tomeka Reid. She’s been on the avant-garde/free jazz scene since 2002, but has really begun to make her mark in the last few years. She’s got long-standing artistic relationships with flautist Nicole Mitchell, drummer Mike Reed, saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton, and the AACM. She leads her own quartet with guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tomas Fujiwara; is a member of the string trio Hear In Now with violinist Mazz Swift and bassist Silvia Bolognesi; And recorded a duo album, Signaling, with saxophonist Nick Mazzarella in 2017. She also performed on trumpeter Jaimie Branch‘s Fly Or Die, two Nicole Mitchell albums, and Hear In Now‘s Not Living In Fear, and became a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In our interview, Reid discusses her creative relationships, her recent recordings, and much more. It’s a really interesting conversation I’ve been wanting to have for quite a while—she was one of the first artists I approached about appearing on the podcast—and I hope you’ll enjoy it. http://burningambulance.blubrry.net/tag/silvia-bolognesi/
Tackling the folkloric tradition of another country can carry the pitfall of sounding palely imitative, or worse still, a pastiche. But when the source is but a launching pad for personal expression then the results can be vital and unique. In celebrating the music of American gospel-cum-folk singer Bessie Jones (1902-1984), Silvia Bolognesi's Young Shouts—an all Italian quartet—responds to the rhythmic energy in Jones' field songs, children's songs, chants and gospel call-and-response, with jazz of uncommon vibrancy. Recorded live at il Lavoratorio, Florence, the music is rooted in tradition yet burns with contemporary urgency. Two Silvia Bolognesi originals bookend the set. On the aptly tempestuous "Chicago Storm" trumpeter Emanuele Marsico, who doubles on vocals throughout, belts out the lyrics like an evangelical preacher forecasting hellfire and damnation—the prelude to fired-up solos from alto saxophonist Attilio Sepe and the trumpeter. All the while, Bolognesi's propulsive ostinatos and drummer Sergio Bolognesi's snappy stick work drive the quartet relentlessly. The album's only non-vocal number, "Semplice," by contrast, moves from a restless and somewhat abstract collective intro into more unified and melodic direction. Just when the music seems to be verging on joyous release the quartet slams on the brakes. In between, a forty-minute, six-part suite pays overt homage to Jones, whose legacy lives on largely thanks to the recordings of the singer that ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax made in New York in 1961. The quartet's chemistry is pronounced in this visceral performance, especially in the improvised passages where Sepe and Marsico's lines criss-cross thrillingly. Jones' gospel roots are evidenced on
"You Better Mind," a slow-burning sermon of impending judgment day. Hand claps and call-and- response vocals guide the catchy "Shoo Turkey." On this catchy tune Marsico's vocal rhythm gradually
melts into Bolognesi's bass line, while trumpet and saxophone alternate between elegant harmonic lines and biting solo excursions. Bassist and drummer lay down a wicked groove on "I'm a Rollin,'" a vehicle for Sepe and Marsico to strut their stuff in exhilarating fashion. The final two minutes of this song feature an unaccompanied drum solo, which bleeds into the child-like vocal rhymes of "Hambone." Once more, the rhythmic
energy of Marsico's vocals serve as a prelude to the quartet's meaty improvisations, this time over fast- walking bass. Bolognesi, whose profile has risen through her work in Roscoe Mitchell's sextet as well
as the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, steps into the spotlight here with a sinewy solo. The leader handles lead vocals on the infectious, clap-along "Sometimes," sampled with some success in 1998 by dance/electronica artist Moby, who had heard Jones on Lomax's 7-LP compilation of field recordings Southern Folk Heritage Series (Atlantic, 1960). Saxophone and drums combine in freewheeling play before Marsico and Sepe reconnect on the breezy outro. aLive Shouts is a gutsy ode to an African American singer of enduring significance. Silvia Bolognesi's Young Shouts honor Bessie Jones not merely by borrowing her lyrics, but by playing with the sort of passion and sincerity that was the singer's musical currency.
Being considered for a long time already one of the major double bass players in the country and an excellent composer and bandleader, Silvia Bolognesi, lives a particularly exalted moment of her career: beyond her national and international long-term projects, it’s two years now that she is a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and based on her work as a teacher at Siena Jazz, she has set up a quartet as leader of very young and talented musicians. Being impressed by this contemporary experience of two realities that force her to play different or even opposite roles, we interviewed her to ask about her impressions. All About Jazz Italy: at this moment of this artistic life you are in a particular and very interesting situation: infact, on one hand you became part of the Art Ensemble of Chicago that nowadays represents maybe more than others the tradition of jazz and its continuous strain for innovation; yet, on the other hand, among your own groups, you have one as a teacher of 20 to 24 years old “youngsters” who are your students at Siena Jazz. While another of your very young students – the 21 year old Amedeo Verniani – has released this year a surprisingly mature album. How do you live this situation that sees you as much disciple as teacher as contexts change? Silvia Bolognesi: This is really one thing that made think a lot, because it’s true that I find myself, so to say, in a sort of “mid age” that has offered me both the opportunity of being part of this group that is surely one of the eldest ones on the international scene – this year it has celebrated 50 years of activity and, as you said, has represented much for this half century of jazz history – and that of teaching and playing with young people full of enthusiasm. Thinking about this particular situation, I realized above all that personalities like Roscoe Mitchell and Don Moye are really unique: I don’t even know how to explain why, if not saying that often, when I hear them talk, telling or explaining things to me, I truly remain surprised by the way they are both deep and humble. They really worry that their way of doing and behaving beyond music, may be an example for those in the group who have less experience and this regards also decisions that happen to be taken together, like the cancellation in October of the Istambul concert in protest against the turkish army invading Syria. But at the same time, they are also very simple persons: they share thoughts with those who are younger and are not embarrassed if the thirty or forty more years produce some limits or ailments. They are always very humble. To be their disciple offers also this kind of teaching that I carry with me when working with who is younger and inexperienced. In fact, the same attention I have towards Roscoe and Don Moye, I find in the young people with whom I play in the group Young Shouts: they are young, with great technical and artistic qualities, but what counts more is their involvement in the musical material, to believe and put their heart in it. Which is what we younger members do in Art Ensemble: the desire to play their music, both the new one and the one we all listened to, is what we find ourselves doing now – and want to do well! AAJ: Even the audience feels the attention of the young members of Young Shouts: I saw you twice and realized how concentrated they were on music, sometimes on details, sometimes taken by enthusiasm. That is, both paying attention to what they are doing and what music means and communicates. But, how about you, what changes when switching the two roles? Because both bear responsibility and acknowledgment, but of quite a different type. SB: The change is next to be a leader and a sideman with some amplified aspects and as for me, it always was more stressing as a sideman, simply because getting other people’s music wrong weighs on me more than getting my own wrong! Even so, it must be said, the concept of “error” doesn’t exist in Art Ensemble: if anything, there is the attention not to compromise the energy of the moment or the eventual thought of Roscoe and Moye; but this is enough to make me concentrate and definitely worried more than with my own group of young people. A concern that obviously grows because of the difference in expectations of the audience and the type of stage you play on: the last concert the Barbican in London had an audience of two thousand people which is hard to imagine for the Young Shouts. Although part of this worry is absorbed by the fact that the group is larger, very cohesive and has also a protective complicity among the younger ones. With the young people instead, the responsibility I feel mosti s to keep them calm: it’s right for them to live their emotions as I lived mine and enjoy the music in the best of ways. From this point of view it is important that they forgot I am a teacher of the school where they study – Siena Jazz – and feel that I accept their musical personality and their decisions. In short, an equal collaboration and that I am not offended if they make present that it’s me who has made a mistake and that the fact that I wrote the music and therefore have to give indications, does not mean that they cannot have their say, offer solutions, put their own. That is, as said before, what the “elderly” of Art Ensemble would like to pass on to us: Roscoe told us more than once that we are in the group because we are composers and bandleaders, therefore we have to take our decisions in function of the music without being sidemen who follow passively their instructions. They want us to be free and I want the young ones to be free. Anyway, more in general, in music the age becomes relative. In the groups there always were the elder ones, more expert, and the younger ones at their first tries. A situation that becomes even more frequenti f who leads the group i salso a teacher. Like Roscoe at Mills College: you know young people interested in their own music, who have the necessary quality and talent to play and it is natural that you involve them in your own projects. Same happened to me teaching at Siena Jazz: there I met the young musicians of Young Shouts and at first they impressed me then they even inspired me. The music of the group is written thinking of them and of what they would be able to realize when playing it. Nevertheless, today, after having them chosen, passed a period together, during which they evolved everytime step by step, I would like to pass on working on different material. Next year we will see what’s going to happen. AAJ: By the way, writing the actual quartet repertory, you were inspired by the figure of Bessie Jones. How come? SB: I came across Bessie Jones thanks to Dee Alexander, dear friend and great singer from Chicago, with whom I worked several times. Some years ago, she spent a period in Italy and during on of the workshops we then organized together, she brought some material of Bessie Jones, an artist I didn’t know then, but who had a strong impact on me and I promised myself to learn more about her. Listening and discovering her, I was fascinated both by her way of singing and her simple repertoire of “countryard” folk songs - which are also sung in groups – as, infact, we do on stage too. It is exactly this simplicity that makes her songs introduce themselves like a blank sheet and her voice evokes sounds in me: starting from there, I leaned on the text – which I am not able to write, although I wrote a couple in my life – and composed the music. To tell the truth, the choice of Bessie Jones containes also a didactic intenta s I was going to work with very young people: that is to stimulate the attention towards little known and a bit arcaic materials, that maybe wouldn’t have cought their interest – when young, normally traditions do not stir up a particular interest – but that instead will be usefull for the progress of artistic activities. In a way, it was how I behaved as a “teacher”, passing something “antique”, changing it into something actual and suitable for them. Moreover, being another generation, practicing other listening, they transmitted me things I didn’t know so that the music has been renewed also thanks to their contribution. AAJ: But, Emanuele Marsico, the trumpeter, did he sing already before or was he available out of necessity of a singer? SB: No, he was already singing. Emanuele has a beautiful gift, even if he never studied singing, he does it with great naturalness and a beautiful voice. He is a boy with a disarming musical instict. AAJ: Getting back to your experience as “disciple” at Art Ensemble, I want to ask you – aprt your relationship with the historical members – how do you live this most important adventure that lasts already for a couple of years? SB: The first and immediate answer is that I feel like a mouse among cheese! That is, I feel like being in a dream. Even now, after two years and so many things done together, when I go on stage and Roscoe says “The Art Ensemble of Chicago”, my heart jumps up my throat! Because, due to listening and music tastes, my maximum desire has always been to play just that music: that it came true still seems impossible to me! And then, with Roscoe who always continues to push ahead, to invent something new, it happens that you experience everything – as happened for example at the Chicago concert, where we were with the large formation, with two opera singers and the conductors, playing from black music to atonal, passing through opera and folk – and I feel immensely happy because there is everything I studied and I’m passionate about: jazz, classic music and contemporary. And it’s not even necessary to be on stage to be happy. Just the rehearsal, just to play is enough! AAJ: After all, during your concert you are happy when playing, it’s obvious... SB: Yes, I’m always happy when playing, but still more at this moment of my career, because I am doing so many things that I’m passionate about; besides Art Ensemble and Young Shouts there is the trio Hear In Now that celebrate sten years in these days and has a lot of projects for the next year, and I also have been able to make play again my Open Combo together with Dinamitri Jazz Folklore. AAJ: One question about your student Amedeo Verniani who has churned out an album this year. “Due”, impressive in complexity and maturity, which is really surprising for a young man of his age. What can you say about, having been his teacher? SB: I have some difficulty to talk about, both because he should not be distracted – he has yet to study and grow – and because I’m influenced by a certain pride in what he is doing. I can say, he always has been a bit out of the norm: he reads, informs himself, is interested in politics, thing s that many others don’t do today. I met him when he was eleven years old and came to the music school Associazione Mosaico in Colle Val d’Elsa, where I’m teaching. He was so small, he played a reduced electric bass because his hands were still too small, so that I wondered about the possibilities of being up to teaching a child.(he was the first one, now I got some more experience). But Amedeo is very well-suited for study: when playing the electric bass, I already made him listen to some jazz players and he was always very interested; he studied theory with Emanuele Parrini and I don’t remember exactly how old he was when we got to know that he had brought a search on Ornette Coleman to school (not our school of music), we were both amazed; growing up a little, I invited him to switch to double bass and he did so. Finished high school I recommended him to enter the conservatory and he didn't; he was very bright at school because he cares about doing things well. The album too is an intelligent choice: he favored the composition aspect and the sound one, leaving aside any demonstration of how good he is at double bass. And, please note, he has the technique, it was really his choice, in my opinion a very mature one: you can hear it from how he plays, from how he gives the cavata to lead the group. When the moment came to release the album, I had some hesitation to do it with Fonterossa, doubting to be too protective, not to say nepotist; then, instead, I decide to do so, a little for the quality and a bit because there play two artists that are part of Fonterossa community – Emanuele Parrini and Tony Cattano – and also a little because it seemed right to me to make place for young musicians in my label. Otherwise what are we getting old for? AAJ: But, in the end, between the role of teacher and the role of disciple, which is the one you like the most? SB: I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, also because I like very much both the situations and they give me so much at the teaching level as well. But that’s exactly the reason why I don’t know which one I like more!
Young Shouts, the last group set up by Silvia Bolognesi, was at the Pinocchio Jazz in Florence to present in concert their recently released album (recorded live last May a few hundred meters away from the jazz club), dedicated to the afroamerican singer Bessie Jones. Young Shouts is a quartet of very young people that were found by the double bass player at the courses she holds at Siena Jazz, for whom she then composed the program inspired by the songs of Jones, who used to interpret almost exclusively vocal pieces, accompanied by choirs and often by the audience. The lyrics if the folksinger, preserved in the songs composed by Bolognesi, act like inspiration for a music which further on becomes structurally autonomous but remains linked to them in spirit. To intepret the lyrics, that normally initiated the songs, there was the trumpeter Emanuele Marsico, an excellent vocal interpreter, despite not having specific studies of singing, chorally accompanied by the other memebrs of the group and occasionally by the audience exhorted by the musicians. In the continuation, the music provided for the entrance of the other instruments, once together, once in dialogical interweaving, now launched in solo, but always with great energy and freshness, combining the enthusiasm of youth, experience of the leader and the immediacy of the repertory inherited from the original pieces: those of Jones were infact street songs, born to socialize at work or in moments of gatherings of the black community, endowed with a spontaneous musicality. The enthusiasm of the group was palpable and shown by the radiant expressions that accompanied the performance, but also by the way in which choral songs were dealt with and the moments of collective improvisation. An enthusiasm that captured the audience, accomplice a music with a strong communicative impact that was performed in an excellent way by the young musicians: without too many artifices, but with great energy and remarkable personality. The added value was obviously Bolognesi: far from stealing the scene from the young partners, she once more gave the depth of sound she can draw from double bass and the richness of inventions she is capable of. Really a great concert, in balance between tradition and innovation, both in the contents – the Bessie Jones songs were all fully recreated – and in the organic – Bolognesi plays for two years in the Art Ensmeble of Chicago, her three partners are at their first professional commitment. A great omen for the shape of jazz to come.
Among the first appointments of the 2021 edition, the Florence Festival Fabbrica Europa scheduled in the music session the Silvia Bolognesi FOnterossa Open Orchestra with its new program dedicated to Charles Mingus, in particular to the pieces of the 1964 album Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus. The double bass player form Siena recalled how her career owes a lot to Mingus, having approached her instrument right after listening to the sound of the American maestro’s instrument and that therefore working on that material, even as a conductor and nota s a double bass player, was particularly touching. On this occasion, the concert made use of a location as suggestive as it was suitable for such a numerous group, coloured, joyful and sometimes overflowing as the Fonterossa Orchetsra: the gardens of the Faculty of Agriculture, inside Parco delle Cascine, the green lung of Florence. Who knows the Orchestra, also knows that its music is creative, exposed to risk, recombined on the spot,thanks to the inspiration of who is conducting – indicating references, dictating times, asking for individual interventions, regulating the dynamics, all on the basis of agreements established during rehearsals, but also always strictly at the imprint – and on who is playing – however the freedom granted to individual players remains high. In case of this repertory, it has meant to use the mingusian material almost exclusively like a pretext to bring alive complete different situations, sometimes quite far from the original. In other words, the compositions of Mingus peeped out and then disappeared in the bursting of the ostinates or in the festive play of voices, or in the very personal expressiveness of the solos. Different by intensity, as the Orchestra joins top musicians – among other Emanuele Parrini, Tony Cattano, Michela Lombardi, “PeeWee” Paolo Durante – other less known but equally good professionals and some non professionals, they are able precisely by virtue of their expressive variety, to compose a fresco of great and unpredictable richness. The concert has evidenced another step forward of an Orchestra that works – despite the understandable difficulties of bringing together over thirty elements from many areas of the country – with a certain continuity for years now carry on a singular music that is very unfashionable in festivals but that, as the success of the evening has shown, does not have problem to get back a feedback from the audience. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/fonterossa-open-orchestra-per-fabbrica-europa-silvia-bolognesi