[Interview] Alessandra Celletti

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A few days ago, I had the honor of interviewing Italian pianist Alessandra Celletti, one of the most creative composers active today.  I came to know her work thanks to an old business partner named Michael Sheppard, who became her champion until his passing a few years ago.

Without further ado, here is Alessandra:


 

Though I know you from our conversations, can you tell us about yourself? Who you are, your background?

I’m a musician, and naturally I love music. But, first of all, I love life. I love nature, the sea, the trees and the flowers, I love all people and animals as well. I like to come upon new things. The relevance of music is that it gives meaning and emotion to everything. I’ve been playing the piano since I was six. The piano is my life, but I also adore singing. Singing is happiness. I have a classical education, but I am too curious not to look for other musical experiences, so I’m always looking for something new.

What inspired you to be a composer and pianist?

I’ve always played the piano. I started my career as a pianist playing classical authors: Mozart, Bach, Chopin, Brahms, Ravel… but at some point I felt the desire to transfer my personal emotions into music by composing myself. It felt like a natural passage.

Which composers or art movements have left a lasting influence in your compositions?
Erik Satie is my first love and I think of him as one of my milestones. I was swept away by the purity and freedom of his search. Then, I appreciate the intelligence and lightness of John Cage. But I am also into punk music, electronics, rock and, sometimes, even pop music. I love painting and the commixture of colors. For me, music is also color. Not for nothing my last album is a blue vinyl titled #cellettiblue, inspired by my favorite color. Blue, for me, is the color of freedom. Just look at the sky and you’ll understand.

How do you go about planning for and making a new album?

I had several producers for my previous albums: here in Italy, in England but also in America. I was lucky enough to have Michael Sheppard of Transparency as a producer. It was a very special human and artistic relationship and I miss him so much. Before he died, he told me that he would be in every note I played and sung… and, indeed, I can feel his presence. I want to make you party to a secret: I always think of Michael when I compose a new melody. Right now I don’t have a record label that produces me, so for my new project I resorted to Musicraiser’s crowdfunding. I really like this personal contact with my audience

What inspired this latest album?

To put it simply, my love for animals. I’m working on six songs dedicated to the animals that had a special role in my life, tangible or symbolic. Among these is Pedro, a cat to whom I am connected in a magical way. And a donkey that I fantasize becoming my husband… And, last but not least, my mother, who I consider the sweetest and most wonderful of all the animals that filled my life. It is, obviously, an affectionate dedication to the person who gave me life and who flew away just a few months ago.

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Are you collaborating with anyone else these days in terms of live performance or studio collaborations?

Yes: a while ago I’ve discovered Paola Luciani and I’ve literally been bewitched by her animations. Luckily for me, this internationally recognized artist hasn’t lost the purity of her artistic expression, so I proposed a collaboration, to which she graciously agreed.
Now she’s drawing and animating her paper clippings according to an age-old and very peculiar technique. Ath the moment she is working on the donkey song and she will soon finalize the animations for the little cat Pedro (or maybe for a little bird)…

How do you feel about the state of the music business?

It seems so difficult for artists to get exposure outside of working with a major label.

How do you manage to do so well?

I simply dedicate myself to what I do with commitment and love, thinking of people with affection and trust. And – this will probably surprise you – I’m even confident in the future of music. Modes and media change all the time: vinyl, cd, streaming… but, basically, nobody can live without music.

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What projects are you working on? What should be expected to see from you in 2020?

As I said, I am working with Paola Luciani on the “Love Animals” project and I very much hope to be able to make it with Musicraiser’s help. Then, I’d like to do a lorryload of concerts and play my piano and sing these sweet songs to everyone. Even if they are dedicated to animals, they are all love songs.

https://musicraiser.com/it/projects/15090-love-animals

[Music] Eleni Karaindrou: David (ECM New Series 2221) — between sound and space: ECM Records and Beyond

Eleni Karaindrou David Kim Kashkashian viola Irini Karagianni mezzo-soprano Tassis Christoyannopoulos baritone Vangelis Christopoulos oboe Stella Gadedi flute Marie-Cécile Boulard clarinet Sonia Pisk bassoon Vangelis Skouras French horn Sokratis Anthis trumpet Maria Bildea harp Katerina Ktona harpsichord ERT Choir Antonis Kontogeorgiou choirmaster Camerata Orchestra Alexandros Myrat conductor Concert production: The Athens Concert Hall Recorded live […]

via Eleni Karaindrou: David (ECM New Series 2221) — between sound and space: ECM Records and Beyond

[Music] The Ed Palermo Big Band – Eddy Loves Frank


 
Judging by the quality of the music and the fact that this is Ed Palermo’s third full-length album dedicated to Frank Zappa’s avant-big-band interpretations, I think that the album title is apropos.  Eddy does indeed loves Frank!  From his Bandcamp site:

Ed and his amazing 16 piece band (+ guests) return with his third album of his distinctive, big-band interpretations of the great 20th century composer, Frank Zappa. This body of work has won them huge acclaim from both new and old fans of the music and they even appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition for a short feature which was heard by millions of listeners in 2006. For those not already familiar with Ed’s colorful, jazz-based arrangements of Zappa’s compositions, Ed has led a big band for 30 years (!) and has had his band performing the music of Frank Zappa for 15 years. Many years of playing these pieces in front of hugely enthusiastic crowds have honed the band’s skills interpreting Zappa’s beautiful but notoriously difficult material to where they are able to perform these challenging charts with apparent ease. All of these musicians are high caliber, hugely talented NYC professional players, and most of them have been playing this music for a decade and a half with this group, not because it is a good paying gig (it isn’t) but because they all admire and appreciate the genius of Zappa’s work and they love having the opportunity to be able to perform these terrifically exciting charts.

“Wonderful, breathtaking, fantastic, exhilarating, great sound, great production, great musicianship…I run out of superlatives…”
– paradoxone.uk

“Palermo developed these charts during years of live shows with these musicians, and their mastery of the material shows in the performances, which turn on a dime yet feel fierce with spontaneous invention…. Palermo’s arrangements and these performances are precise, dedicated, raucous and incisive—just like Zappa himself.”
– JazzTimes

“Palermo uses Zappa’s compositions as a framework for inspiration, rather than simply trying to recreate what is already available on CD.”
– allaboutjazz.com 

 

[Music] Ed Carlsen – The Journey Tapes (Deluxe Edition)

I grew up with piano music in my home because my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (a violinist by trade) were fond of the instrument.  I would grow up hearing piano music, dated a pianist in Italy for a brief and stormy moment, and even here in China, I’m surrounded by it.

It pleases me to no end that piano music continues to be revolutionary.
Montreal’s Moderna Records is at the forefront of putting out the best of cinematic, minimalist piano music, and Ed Carlsen’s music has proven to be my current favorite of their bunch. For those familiar with Yann Tiersen’s music, Ed’s compositions will feel familiar. These are wispy, thought-provoking pieces which make you want to break out the blanket and coffee and sit by the window on a chilly day.