I never really took the time to talk in depth about my friendship and musical relationship with vibraphonist, pianist, bassist and composer Bill Ware. Bill and I met around 1997 when I first arrived in New York, thanks to saxophonist Jay Rodriguez, who had been living in Italy prior to that time and convinced me to move to the U.S. During that time both Jay and Bill were very active with Groove Collective, the most popular acid-jazz band in New York, featuring some great musicians who I became quite acquainted with such as trumpet player Fabio Morgera, trombonist Josh Roseman, keyboardists Itaal Shur and Barney McCall. I used to go see them perform quite often and only now I realize how influential their music has been for my musical development. Bill has also been part of the "Jazz Passengers", a theatrical and conceptual jazz band born out of John Lurie's "Lounge Lizards" and led by alto saxophonist and story teller Roy Nathanson.
Starting in 2002 I started collaborating with Bill on a regular basis playing gigs around New York City. We mainly performed with one of the most amazing bass players I've had the pleasure to play with, Mr. Bradley Jones, also a member of the Jazz Passengers. Bill and Brad had a trio called "Vibes" including the original drummer from the Jazz Passengers, E.J. Rodriguez (not to be confused with the saxophone player from Groove Collective), who at the time had relocated in Phoenix (AZ). We mostly played the trio repertoire with the addition of a few improvisations and jazz standards. Here's a not so hi-res video of a performance we made in 2005 at the legendary Nyuorican Poets Cafe', with Chauncey Yearwood on congas.
As time went by Bill started recording me on drums for a series of different projects he was working on. One of the first things to come out was an outstanding 14 minutes through-composed piece entitled "Das Juengste Kind" from the album "Bach Set" co-led by Bill and cellist Sarah Wollan with a wonderful line-up of musicians including Roy Nathanson, DK Dyson, Brad Jones, Curtis Fowlkes, David Wechsler, E.J. Rodriguez, Russ Johnson, Tommaso Cappellato, Victoria Paterson and Sam Bardfeld.
In early 2005 Bill decided to start a new challenge called "Urban Vibes" thanks to a residency we had at Acme Underground, a club located on Great Jones St, in Noho. The concept around this project was to have an open ensemble with different players who would alternate according to each one's availability and to experiment with different instrumentation settings. The core nucleus of this band included Bill on vibes, me on drums, Chauncey Yearwood on vocals and percussion, Giorgio Poli on electronics, Freddy Shehadi and sometimes Marc Ribot on guitar. Many hours of music have been tracked and to this day Bill is still working on this material.
Another project that involves me on drums is "New Vibes" featuring a series of new original compositions written by Bill in which he also acts as vocalist. This project includes saxophonist Jay Rodriguez and bassist Brad Jones. Hopefully all of this material will be available soon and it's one of the freshest things I've heard lately. Here's me, Brad and Bill after a recent show at Nublu in NYC.
Thanks to Bill in May 2005 I got to play with the Jazz Passengers featuring Debbie Harry (aka Blondie) in occasion of the Howl Festival held by the Federation of East Village Artists paying tribute to Allen Ginsberg. I was so honored to be part of the show, the music was great and Debbie revealed to be a true, humble and sweet person. Among the guests I remember seeing Philipp Glass and "meeting" Bjork who inadvertently ended up punching me in the face while dancing like crazy!!
My collaboration with Mr. Ware has never stopped since and we've been performing in various settings throughout the years. In May 2014 we'll be performing two shows at Nublu in New York City: May 11 featuring Brad Jones on bass with special guests Francesco Geminiani (saxophone) and Francesco Fratini (trumpet), and May 25 featuring Saadi Zian on bass with special guests Kazu Kumagai (tap dance). Hope to see you there and for many more shows to come!!
We're well deep into spring and a new chapter has started. After three great shows with Astral Travel in Italy, I'm now in New York to run some bureaucratic errands and play some shows. It's been a week since I've been here and I was able to reconnect with lots of friends and musical partners I haven't seen in quite a long time. So great to see how everybody is doing so well!
Starting this weekend, Friday April 25, I'll be playing at improv session Paradigm Refrain with Nico Soffiato on guitar and Giacomo Merega on electric bass at Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn. On Sunday April 27 I'll be part of Michael Blake's Band featuring Teddy Kumpel and Tim Luntzel at Bizarre Bar in Bushwick playing some rare and obscure oldies. On May 10 I will be joining Rosita Késs and Doug Wieselman at Nublu to perform Rosita's originals while on the 17th I'll be performing duo with the legendary Don Byron paying tribute to John Coltrane at Michiko's Studios on 46 St. (bet. Times Sq. & 6th Ave.). More shows to be confirmed in the next few days.
Some exciting news regarding Astral Travel are our new partnership with Berlin-based booking agent Daniel Best of Best Works (Jazzanova, Da Lata, Mop Mop) and the release of "Cosm'ethic" on Japanese label P-VINE Records on June 4 2014, while Shuya Okino from Kyoto Jazz Massive selected us as Best New Artist of 2013 for the JAJ InterFM Awards. A series of interviews and reviews have come out on Musica Jazz, Soundwall Magazine, Witclub and radio podcasters worldwide have been playing the album on a regular basis.
A new video has been released for the GIBUS 2014 campaign featuring myself on drums, Ty Le Blanc (voice), Andrea Lombardini (bass) and Alfonso Santimone (keys). It's an ad shot to market their brand new line of high-end gazebos "Sun Room". For the occasion Ty and I co-wrote the song "Let The Sunshine In".
A new promotional video has been released by the Jazz Re:freshed crew, an interview where we talk about my favorite records in my vynil collection.
A new Mixtape of mine has been broadcasted on Polish Radio Kampus through the series "Digital Meditation". Here's what they had to say about it: "Making long story short, the inspiration information continues! Musician responsible for one of the best jazz albums of 2013, encouraged by Maceo’s sonic meditation phenomenon (#91) hit us with special transcendental jazz-mix prepared exclusively for our show! We still can’t hide our excitation and can’t wait to launch this beautiful trip for you. Don’t think twice and tune in to listen meditation of one of our favorite drummers around – Tommaso Cappellato!"
Enjoy the spring and hope to bring some more exciting news in the weeks to come.
"Music brings you places" (Anonymous)
Recently returned from a trip in India, where I regained my energies after a fierce 2013, I'm back in the grind moving around and making moves. The musical season started with a nice series of gigs with my friends Rosita Késs and Richard Julian, two wonderful songwriters and musicians who I have been playing with for a few years. The release of the album we recorded together in 2012 in New Orleans is way overdue but it should definitely happen this year.
The album "Cosm'ethic" keeps receiving props from every possible source: magazines, blogs, radio programs and podcasts from all over the world. "World Traveller" was featured on 2013's last episode of "Bandcamp Weekly" (the world's largest independent online music store) as one of the highlights of last year, while Shuya Okino of Kyoto Jazz Massive in Japan listed us among the five Best New Artists of the year. On January 24 Astral Travel opened the new season of concerts at the prestigious Casa del Jazz in Rome and other gigs are to follow in early spring around northern Italy. For en extensive read of recent reviews you can visit the Album Page.
I'm currently in Berlin playing CTM Festival on January 29 with Upperground Orchestra led by DJ and producer Rabih Beaini and featuring Piero Bittolo Bon on reeds and Alvise Seggi on bass. Joining the concert will be legendary and visionary musician and composer Charles Cohen, worldwide renown for having mastered the Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, an extremely rare integrated analog performance instrument made by pioneer Don Buchla. On January 31 I will join piano player and composer Kelvin Sholar, originally from Detroit and a Berlin resident, for a piano trio performance at Kaffeehaus Mila.
Back in Italy I will play a double date with a massive quartet featuring Carlo Atti on tenor saxophone, Fabrizio Puglisi on piano and Stefano Senni on bass. This will take place at Barazzo in Bologna February 8-9, while on February 20 I will join young talents Alessandro Lanzoni and Gabriele Evangelista for piano trio performance in Siena, Tuscany. Those who are familiar with these players know what they're in for!
Other big news are around the corner but it's quite too early for them to be revealed so stay tuned. You can subscribe to the NEWSLETTER and like my FACEBOOK PAGE to keep informed. Thank you all for your support!
For the second time this wonderful band I'm part of releases an album of high and intense energy. Following "Live at Panic" (Abeat 2011) saxophonist, composer and band leader Michele Polga decides to take the group to the studio to record a new set of tunes. The outcome is "Studio Session" (Abeat 2013) featuring Fabrizio Bosso (trumpet), Luca Mannutza (piano), Luca Bulgarelli (bass) and myself on drums.
The official presentation will be held at Q Club in Padova on November 28 2013.
Tickets will still be available at the door.
The man himself, Enrico Rava wrote some great liner notes, commenting the music on the album:
The opening is quite astounding. A fast, lively theme is carried over a very solid and effective bass line, which would definitely contradict the sense of the title “Boh” (a typical Italian exclamation denoting perplexity, surprise or some degree of incertitude) and paves the way for Polga’s powerful, engaging solo. We are instantly hooked.
So is jazz alive and is it doing well? Very definitely, and with musicians such as Polga and his fellow players one can easily capture an idea of the current fortunate lot and good health of the genre. This jazz release offers a blend of different feelings and musical elements and there are no moments of waning vitality or hesitation. We also note echoes of the work of Horace Silver, Joe Henderson and all of the great musicians of the past who made us fall in love with this type of music. But then, as we listen more carefully, we are of course fully aware that this is Michele Polga; his music is really only reminiscent of his own work.
Fabrizio Bosso is simply incredible (as always), and we enjoy the unpredictable and strikingly creative sparks he manages to generate and admire the outstanding control of his instrument. Mannuzza, Bulgarelli and Cappellato are absolutely essential; they are imaginative, alert and reactive. It is evident that it is a pleasurable experience for all of them all but it is for us too. They listen and respond to each other, offering an essential contribution towards the unity of the band.
Apart from ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ and the final blues track, these pieces were all composed by Polga, who once again proves himself a moving saxophonist but also as an extraordinary composer and sound designer.
What else can we say? This is a great, truly authentic jazz album. This is the way they used to be produced and they’re increasingly rare. In this sense too I appreciate the fact it closes with a slow blues piece. It is basically one of those albums that you just want to play again and again.
October has been a month of great new encounters and high energy. The Free Spirits/Steve Reid Foundation 12-hours musical marathon in Berlin was one of the most memorable events I have been involved in. I got to meet and spend time with some legendary talents of the likes of Gilles Peterson, Fourtet, Floating Points, Fuasi Abdul Khaliq and Dwight Trible. Not only that but we were honored with the presence in the audience of some old time friends and great artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Andrea Benini (Mop Mop), Rabih Beaini (who opened for Astral Travel with a deep spiritual DJ set) and Daniel Best.
(Unity right after a deep cosmic jam between Astral Travel & Horace Tapscott Memorial Ensemple at Free Spirits, Berlin)
On October 19 Astral Travel was invited by Circolo Culturale Controtempo to perform at the series "Le Nuove Rotte del Jazz" (New Routes in Jazz) along with Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset and piano legend Bobo Stenson at Teatro Miela in Trieste. And if this was not enough, last friday I took part to Mark de Clive-Lowe's Church project at Uberjazz Festival in Hamburg featuring violist and arranger Miguel Atwood Ferguson, vocalist Tawiah, saxophonist/flutist/composer Finn Peters and bass player Manuel Hugas. Some of us met for the very first time and as it happens sometimes, it resulted in some magic musical moments.
Next and last appointment in the fall with Astral Travel will be in my hometown Padova at Fishmarket celebrating the release of "Cosm'ethic" on Jazz Re:Freshed Records along with those who made it happen: TwICE (Black Aroma), Volcov (Neroli/Archive) & Mark de Clive-Lowe. I'm really looking forward to this one, CD's will be available at 10 Euros. Spread the word!!!
Together with Gilles Peterson & the Brownswood Label, Berlin based promoter J.A.W Family set up a special event around the extraordinary music universe of NY Drummer Steve Reid (RIP) with the aim at raising money for the Steve Reid Foundation & helping Festsaal Kreuzberg with its reconstruction.
This event brings for the first time in Berlin worldwide renowned DJs, Producers & live musicians together for a day & night of independent, improvised & spiritual music. All proceeds will go to the Steve Reid Foundation to support Steve’s close friend & musician Arthur Blythe who’s currently struggling with Parkinson’s disease.
Sunday October 13// 3pm - 4am // Festsaal Edition c/o Prince Charles
Gilles Peterson (Brownswood Recordings BBC 6 UK)
Floating Points (Eglo Records UK)
Four Tet (Text Records UK)
Claas Brieler (Jazzanova DE)
Horace Tapscott Memorial Ensemble (US DE) LIVE
Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq (tenor sax)
Ghasim Batamuntu (soprano sax)
Bobby West (keys/ Fender Rhodes)
Kenny Martin (drums)
Daryl Taylor (bass)
+ very special guest Dwight Trible (vocals)
Astral Travel (Jazz Re:freshed IT) LIVE
Tommaso Cappellato (drums)
Alessia Obino (voice)
Anna Maria Dalla Valle (flute)
Paolo Corsini (piano/fender rhodes/ moog synthesizer)
Andrea Lombardini (electric bass)
Pre-sale tickets only available on Resident Advisor
Astral Travel was welcomed and well received at Mau Mau Bar in London with great energy and enthusiasm by the Jazz Re:Freshed crew and a wonderful audience. It was great to finally meet in person the masterminds behind this generous collective, Adam Moses, Justin McKenzie and Bunny Bread and we were honored with the presence of some vip's such as Dego and Robert Strauss.
Physical copies of the album with refined graphic design and packaging are finally available at http//:jazzrefreshed.bandcamp.com/album/cosmethic
Here's an extract of the gig while performing "My Body Needs To Breathe, I Doesn't" with Alessia Obino (voice), Anna Maria Dalla Valle (flute), Paolo Corsini (keys) and Marco Privato (bass).