Photo Credit: Elisa Caldana
This November, 15 rising stars on the Italian jazz scene take to the Barbican Free Stage at this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival and for a special concert at the Italian Cultural Institute. Emily Palmer talks to music critic and curator Enrico Bettinello, who has been part of their journey to the London stage.
“I have long thought that there are many accomplished musicians in Italy who deserve the chance to perform on a wider, European stage,” explains Enrico. “Through my work with organisations such as Europe Jazz Network and I-Jazz, I have been able to help achieve that and support national artists abroad. I am so excited to introduce these 15 young artists to London next month!”
The musicians, who are all under 35 years of age, are chosen and supported by I-Jazz, the Italian association uniting over 50 of its national festivals. Through its network of festival curators and artistic directors, I-Jazz is able to connect with a range of young musicians who, after selection by a committee, are invited to be part of the Young Jazz from Italy initiative.
The majority of the artists perform original music and have distinguished themselves on the Italian scene in recent years. Whilst their compositional and improvisational approaches are different, they all share an appreciation and desire for a unique sound. The performances, which take place between 17 and 19 November, are not only a chance for the soloists and ensembles to showcase their talents, but for audiences to gain an insight into how Italian jazz has grown in these last years.
Photo Credit: Giacomo Citro
“The current young jazz scene is very exciting,” comments Enrico. “Many musicians have an international approach and take inspiration from a mix of cultures and musical ideas; their sound reflects the complex narrative of today’s connected world. For me, the musicians that are playing in London next month represent the fresh and innovative younger jazz generation in Italy.”
Concerts on 17 November include pianist Alessandro Lanzoni, awarded Musica Jazz’s ‘Best New Talent’ in 2013, performing a selection of lyrical jazz pieces and improvised original tracks, and an eclectic programme from quintet Clock’s Pointer Dance (drummer Filippo Sala, trumpeter Paolo Malacarne, trombone player Andrea Baronchelli, saxophonist Andrea Catagnoli and guitarist Michele Bonifati) with traditional jazz pieces as well as rock and open improvising forms.
Photo Credit: Paolo Soriani
On 18 November, pianist Enrico Zanisi’s performance includes tracks from his recent critically-acclaimed solo album Piano Tales. Yellow Squeeds (guitarist Francesco Diodati, pianist Enrico Zanisi, drummer Enrico Morello, trumpeter Francesco Lento and tuba player Glauco Benedetti) performs a programme that showcases the unusual textures of the quintet’s line-up. A second solo set is performed by guitarist Simona Severini who pays homage to composers and songwriters including Monteverdi, Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell. For his second appearance at the EFG London Jazz Festival, pianist Giovanni Guidi is joined by his trio Drive! (bassist Joe Rehmer and drummer Federico Scettri) for a concert featuring tracks from the trio’s recent eponymous debut album, released on Auand Records in June 2018. There is also a guest appearance from award-winning saxophonist and clarinettist Francesco Bearzatti.
For the final concerts on 19 November, which take place at the Italian Cultural Institute, Simona Severini performs an intimate set for voice and acoustic guitar, and pianist Giovanni Guidi returns with a programme of solo piano music.
Photo Credit: Cinzia Capparelli
All the concerts are free, with booking required only for the Italian Cultural Institute.
Enrico acknowledges the importance of giving the musicians a platform like this, not only to gain exposure to international audiences and promoters but also to help expand their musical network. The opportunity to meet other musicians and share ideas, opinions and experiences is invaluable. Enrico hopes that these performances will be equally as rewarding for spectators as well, giving them a real flavour of the ‘Italian blend’.
“It’s all about different artistic tensions,” explains Enrico. “That magic point where the electric and acoustic, the composed and the improvised, the global and the local all collide to give life to sounds that reflect the diversity of today’s Europe.
“I am really proud of the young musicians and it’s particularly encouraging to see the way they have supported each other,” concludes Enrico. “They have a great opportunity to engage with new audiences and I would encourage both the musicians and audiences, to keep their hearts and ears open.”
17 November, Barbican Free Stage
18 November, Barbican Free Stage
19 November, Italian Cultural Institute