Piano Solo - Free musical dialogue


The solo performance represents for the pianist the moment of maximum artistic expression during which to get naked through an all-encompassing inner dialogue; one cannot pretend or resort to external creators to tell about oneself, one's own experience. On the contrary, one must rely on the natural flow of pulsations, thoughts, emotions, imaginative paths and introjected logical schemes. For this reason the floor only it is the direct consequence of a compulsory critical elaboration through which the soloist measures himself with himself, reaffirming or questioning at the same time what he has done and thought up to that moment; a symbiotic point of arrival and turning point, a prelude to a change or continuation of a direction taken. Certainly there performance solo is a complex situation, which requires preparation and commitment, to combine invention and technical and expressive ability in order to give shape to one's musical idea; in this case virtuosity is not enough, to communicate with the listener and arrive at a desired result you need to weave a sincere, deep, coherent flow of dialogue without being afraid to turn your exposed weaknesses into strengths. When this happens the floor only it turns into a liberating and cathartic exercise that invests the mind and the senses.

Every pianist throughout his career has felt the need to try his hand at this type of execution in the studio or in concert, taking a break, or rather a moment of reflection, from the role of leader or component of the rhythm section of a combo or a formation more enlarged. The results, in some cases, have proved to be excellent, testified by records that have rightfully entered the history of modern jazz: "Conversation with Myself" by Bill Evans, “Thelonious Monk Alone in San Francisco“, “Open to Love” by Paul Bley, “Facing You" and "The Köln Concert” di Keith Jarrett, “Piano Improvisationby Chick Corea, just to mention a few. Also in Italian jazz there are episodes in floor only that have made the "difference", not only with regard to the excellent executive and inventive level of the musician involved - subsequently taken as a model by other gifted pianists or followers - but also with reference to the contingent situations, personal or historical-musical, which have framed the studio performance. In this article we will deal in particular with one of the fundamental engravings in floor only of Italian jazz, "The Day After The Silence” by the pianist and composer Enrico Pieranunzi.

Recorded in 1976, in the midst of the jazz ferment that pervades the Roman scene (promoted by young musicians such as Massimo Urbani, Enzo Pietropaoli, Roberto GattoMaurizio Giammarco), the disc is a personal and intimate reworking of the jazz narrative of the first half of the 1900s, from the origins of blues to be-bop, to modal harmonies, resulting from the expressive ethos adopted by the pianist following listening to the lexicon of Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Horace Silver, Chick Coreacon particolare riferimento all’album “Now he sings, now he sobs”) and the hard-bop language of McCoy Tyner. In fact in that period Pieranunzi discovers playing that he knows how to compose, that he can finally give a precise identity to his ideas that gradually transform into melodic, rhythmic cells, motifs, embellishments and so on. The process is not causal, it is a writing meditated on listening, as mentioned earlier, to the jazz and blues records that his father, Alvaro, keeps at home. Among the first blues guitarists in Italy, Alvaro Pieranunzi introduces his son to the discovery of the roots of modern jazz and what it stands for hyphen between the tradition of the origins of African-American music and be-bop, saxophonist Charlie Parker. The line of conjunction between the blues, identified in the legendary and controversial figure of Parker, and the reality of the popular neighborhood, in which the pianist grows up and takes his first steps in approaching the study and practice of the piano, lies in the ambivalent essence of that music that comes from afar, in which unbridled joy and sadness, marginalization and redemption, loneliness and a sense of belonging coexist. All characters traceable in the urban reality of Rome, then as now, which take on a new perspective in the eyes of the young pianist, making the blues appear as something strangely close to one's feelings, difficult to explain in words but equally clear when "speaking" is a piano. In fact, the solo recording of “The Day After The Silence” channels the entire experience hitherto elaborated and put to good use by the pianist through a series of pieces performed with instinctive energy, youthful physicality and technical mastery due to the intense classical studies at the Reggio Calabria Conservatory completed a few years earlier. As often happens in performance solo performances, Enrico Pieranunzi unconsciously pushes forward in time with the composition and execution of the piece "The Mood is Good”, suggesting those characterizations of writing still to come, which will become his trademark, with a nostalgic gait, with dreamy and dreamy fading atmospheres, marked in ¾ time. This is precisely the case in which the soloist becomes a subsidiary figure of the orchestra in direct correspondence with the fact of being able to use the entire tonal range of the instrument at his disposal, from the low to the high register, to find differentiated harmonic solutions supported by a total independence of the hands and an extraordinary use of the technique of walking bass borrowed from the fathers of boogie-woogie and stride piano.

On the other hand, the recording work is noted as "foreign" to the Italian jazz panorama of the time marked by a politicized cultural climate, monopolized by free jazz and by the various movements, demonstrations, rallies and magazines close to the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary left. Music outside politics is viewed with suspicion, labeled as reactionary, and, in addition, be-bop is still held up as an expression of American capitalism. But Pieranunzi looks further, it's not that he's not interested in left-wing politics, on the contrary, but he wants to follow a precise direction without being influenced by fads or fleeting positions that have little to do with the quality of the music expressed. It is noteworthy that within a few years, with the decade of the eighties, Italian jazz will be invaded by fusion but also from other approaches of free improvisation detached from the ideological-political message forcibly associated with a way of interpreting the free. Following these assumptions of intent "The Day After The Silence” presents itself as a timeless solo performance, not anchored to the isms of the decade of the seventies, thus summarizing the canonical values ​​of universal inspiration that any form of art should assume.

The disc released by the label Edipan by the composer and conductor Bruno Nicolai (collaborator for many years of Maestro Ennio Morricone) enjoys an unexpected success with audiences and critics both in Italy and abroad, especially in France, confirming the technical and compositional skills of that uncompromising and gifted twenty-seven-year-old Roman pianist.

Paolo Marra


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