Antonio Solimene

Thanks to the European visibility and contextualization achieved with Italian Jazz on The Road, Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. which broadens its dissemination potential, in order to distribute original and experimental Italian jazz music all over the world.

What do you think of this project?
R: With Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. the Director Stefano Mastruzzi wanted to give space to composers and arrangers and for the first time we crossed the ocean. A dazzling start! Even I would not have imagined that a project of this type could bring to me, first of all, (because you never stop learning: you are a teacher only if you continue to listen to the change in modern music in the world!) And above all to the children who in the last year they have had an enormous enrichment, which can only be reached after many years of study. A practical enrichment, close to reality. It cannot be excluded that there may also be a second edition of Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. It has been hypothesized the possibility of undertaking an Erasmus with the University of North Texas, an exclusive thing with one of the most qualified universities in the United States of America that would allow our students to enrich their academic career with renewed competence.

With Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. he was a guest of the University of North Texas together with the two students of the two-year course in jazz composition and arrangement, Gabriele Ceccarelli and Filippo Minisola.

What are your thoughts on this experience lived by you and your students?
A: Summarizing all the experience lived is very difficult. The work went above and beyond our expectations. The proposed objectives were very ambitious: to get out of Europe in an international confrontation, with systems and mechanisms far from our routine and, as if that were not enough, in the homeland of jazz. Basically we Europeans share a sort of modification of jazz, but going to America we are confronted with what is the most real, most natural root of jazz. It is therefore inevitable to hide some awe and concern. The boys were very well received by the structure, Richard De Rosa was extremely available, a person in the hand despite his curriculum making everyone envy: he has directed and written for the most prestigious world realities. He welcomed us calmly, with joy, with pleasure. We had a confrontation with the orchestras, we listened and also witnessed the rehearsals. There are nine orchestras, made up of twenty musicians who alternate daily with fifty-minute rehearsals. The organization alone was a source of amazement! The seriousness with which the students of the University of North Texas face this test was truly above all my expectations. It is a Campus, a reality that we can share in part, where the students live and do not have the variables of the Friday metro strike! The space dedicated to us was quite large. The boys tried and it was preferred to have the performance of their compositions directed by M ° Richard De Rosa because the language, the confrontation was already a complex event in itself: to let the boys take practice with that type of situation. and the orchestra would have taken a few more days.

Before departure there was a skype-class of the composers and arrangers of Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. with M ° Richard De Rosa, in connection from Texas. Director of Jazz Composition and Arrangement at North Texas University, Maestro De Rosa was a guest of the Saint Louis last year: he conducted the Saint Louis Big Band and held Composition and Arrangement Masterclasses.

What do you think of M ° De Rosa's teaching method? Did you find any differences compared to the Italian one?
A: Maestro Richard De Rosa is an authoritative person, but not an authoritarian one. With the weight of his competence he succeeds in obtaining absolute attention and credibility. I attended some of his lessons at the University, the courses are held in classes with forty-fifty people; then there are sub-teachers, excellent students of the Master who take small groups of students of five or ten and give support and in-depth lessons. I noticed a university dynamic almost as if you were teaching medicine: the authoritative professor holds the lesson with a power point presentation, great clarity and a lot of seriousness. Jazz is part of their history, it is a bit like our experience in the field of classical music. For us Europeans there is a musical hierarchy: classical music comes first, followed by jazz and popular music. For Americans, medicine, jazz music, engineering are all areas taken with the same rigor and the same seriousness. We have had jazz in national institutions for twenty years, they invented it and therefore have it in their routine.

Also with regard to the performances performed by the Texan academic orchestra, did you notice any differences compared to the Italian performances?
A: If an Italian learns to speak English or American, one always feels that he is a European speaking. And that's how it works for the swing and jazz pronunciation we learn from them. Inevitably when we play jazz, we Europeans are emulative. Not to belittle our jazz vision, because we have written and coined Europeanized jazz music, which has an equally interesting vision. There are also many American musicians who are close enough to a more Euro-cultured jazz system. But it is as if an American were playing the tarantella: surely he would not have that fluidity, that naturalness, that lightness and that sense of belonging of the Neapolitan culture. With Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. the comparison takes on the value and height of content precisely because we are addressing the source, the essential root: America. Talking about pronunciation, improvisation, swing, groove, timing, for Americans is an innate slang. I have seen that M ° De Rosa never had to spend to improve a pronunciation when he conducted the orchestra. Here, during the lessons, many of us teachers' interventions are often correcting pronunciation, to help our students understand what the slang, swing, timing of a particular musical step is like.

In November, the last stage of the international tour. This time we fly to Spain, to Pamplona, ​​and it will be the orchestra of the Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Navarra to perform the compositions of the students of Saint Louis with Special Guest Javier Girotto.

What do you expect from this experience?
R: Italian Jazz C.R.E.A. it was a very rich journey: we invited De Rosa and we went to him, we invited Iňaki Askunze and now let's go to him. It is a 360 ° exchange: they know our world and we know theirs. I know it will be different. Going to America we wanted to meet the pure reality of jazz; going to Spain we wanted to meet the world of artistic contamination, because jazz does not just mean traditional jazz. By now it has reached a much wider meaning, in which it embraces a tide of styles, and in this Javier Girotto enters fully. In Pamplona we will bring Javier Girotto's songs that follow a tradition contaminated by the nuevo tango, by Argentine and South American music. All of Javier's original pieces have been arranged by the two-year students in arrangement and composition Gabriele Ceccarelli and Filippo Minisola who will conduct the orchestra of the Superior Conservatory de Musica de Navarra during the concert. The evening will be characterized by a synergy of frightening elements: Argentine culture, the writing of Italian arrangers who grew up at Saint Louis, the comparison with a Spanish reality that maintains points in common with Argentina and that has points in common with the jazz vision. we met in Texas.

I wanted to tell you about an episode that struck me very much. There was a moment when our Richard De Rosa was rehearsing Gabriele Ceccarelli's piece with the orchestra directed by the resident director of the Three O'Clock lab Band, who among other things will soon be a Berkeley teacher and who was not happy with how the drummer was playing the piece. So he asked Richard De Rosa to go to the drums, called the student drummer, made him sit next to her and conducted the piece. We found ourselves in a situation where the intersection of skills and international creative moments was crazy. So there was: the orchestra that was playing a piece by an Italian pupil that became a reason for didactic integration and amplification, because the piece inevitably had Euro-cultured influences because the boys brought their universe there. So the conductor who became a drummer, the student who listened to what the teacher had to say ... An opportunity for integration that produced a great emotion in me! Seeing the evolution of young people and participating in the international explosion of their work was extremely exciting and motivating for everyone!

Filippo Minisola

The experience of Italian Jazz C.R.E.A in America is undoubtedly an adventure that I will always carry in my heart, both for the meetings that involved us in Texas and for the traveling companions with whom we lived it.

One of the most fascinating things was certainly the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a distant reality (geographically and culturally!) From ours. The impact of the first visit to the University of North Texas Campus was dazzling: a real city of students and teachers, hectic, convulsive, passionate, overwhelming, radiating energy and the desire to work and grow together, immersed in a climate of collectivity and community.

Among the thousands of students who crowded the campus at any time, there were those of the university's numerous Big Bands. We had the honor of having songs performed by the fantastic guys of the Three O'Clock Lab Band; it was very interesting and instructive to see them work with so much professionalism (despite their young age) and at very intense and frenetic rhythms on pieces that, at times, had characters far from the “traditional” Jazz culture; in fact, while we immersed ourselves in their culture, we brought through our music some aspects of ours, with which they had to deal, and this led us to a precious form of communication.

The real "gold nugget" of our trip was the meeting with Maestro Richard De Rosa, who guided us like a true Cicero through the boundless spaces of Texas, always characterized by a rare humanity; it was he who conducted our songs with acute sensitivity. During his lessons, which we were lucky enough to follow, I was struck by the extraordinary ability to deal with the most technical topics from an exquisitely emotional, communicative point of view, always poised between technique and inspiration, creating a splendid synthesis of art. and crafts that make up this profession.

Gabriele Ceccarelli

The trip to America, at the University of North Texas, was above all a wonderful cultural experience: meeting a culture so different from ours was exciting. Living on the Campus, almost as if I were a Texan, this was the thing that I liked most of all, in addition of course to the musical, professional aspects.

It is difficult to feel an integral part of their world: we lived the experience as guests, as people strangers to their university dynamics. Everything is completely different there than how we are used to living at the university. Everyone was pleasantly available, even simply in making us guests participate in what they were doing. We followed two hours of private lessons with M ° Richard De Rosa that he himself proposed us to do, as well as allowing us to attend some of his academic appointments.

Precise and engaging, Maestro De Rosa asked for attention and participation. He is a fantastic teacher, truly one of the best I have ever met. Working on my piece with the musicians of the Three o 'Clock Lab Band, under the direction of Maestro De Rosa and with the participation of Maestro Solimene was one of the best moments of the whole experience. Not only the performance itself, but above all the rehearsals! Participating and seeing how the master directs and works was exciting. Encountering a world that is different from yours gives you infinite possibilities for growth.

This path was a great opportunity for growth even just by observing what we faced. All very inspiring!


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