“Pioneered” out on Domanda Music

After many years of hard work and brainstorming, I’m excited to announce and celebrate the launch of my new imprint Domanda Music with the release of my new album “Pioneered”. This album was recorded during a month-long residency in 2018 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, and was post-produced during the lockdown.

The LP drops July 16 2021 on vinyl and digital, featuring some of my favorite artists in the New York scene, including jaimie branch, Shahzad Ismaily, Val Jeanty, Michael Blake, Afrikan Sciences, Mariano Gil, Nico Soffiato, Justine Cefalu and Francesco Geminiani.

1. To Be Born And Forget
Tommaso Cappellato (drums, sensory percussion)

2. Legend Of The Bringer
Shahzad Ismaily (electric bass, moog)
Yusuke Yamamoto (electric vibes)
Mariano Gil (flute)
Justine Cefalù (violin)
Michael Blake (bansuri)
Tommaso Cappellato (drums, organ)

3. The Elite
jaimie branch (trumpet, synths)
Val Jeanty (turntables)
Tommaso Cappellato (drums)

4. So Hard To Be Apart
Afrikan Sciences (synths, programming)
Tommaso Cappellato (drums)

5. Green Is The Color Of The Heart
Tommaso Cappellato (drums, synths, sensory percussion)

6. Angels In Space
Michael Blake (tenor saxophone)
Tommaso Cappellato (drums, synths, percussion)

7. Bikes, Rides & Tides
Shahzad Ismaily (moog)
Nico Soffiato (guitar)
Tommaso Cappellato (drums, programming)

8. In Need To Slow Down
Yusuke Yamamoto (synths, vibes)
Francesco Geminiani (ewi)
Tommaso Cappellato (drums, synths, percussion)

Mixed by Tommaso Cappellato & Dave Vettraino
Tape Transfer by Donato Dozzy
Mastered by Max Trisotto
Original Artwork by Giorgio Pasini
Art Direction by Raimund Wong
Design by Mattia Tono

Press Release

The Italian percussionist-producer-composer Tommaso Cappellato will release his seventh album as a bandleader, Pioneered, on July 16, 2021. It was recorded during the artist’s month-long residency at the venerable Brooklyn contemporary arts space Pioneer Works, in 2018. Pioneered features contributions from a multicultural and sonically diverse cast of electronic, jazz, and experimental players whose own work and ideas about music communities naturally inform Cappellato’s.

The impressive list of contributors to Pioneered includes Shahzad Ismaily, jaimie branch, Val Jeanty, Afrikan Sciences, Michael Blake, Yusuke Yamamoto, Donato Dozzy, and others. Pioneered also marks the first release on Cappellato’s Domanda Music label, devoted to a global-minded eclecticism, rhythm, improvisation and joy.

Liner Notes by Piotr Orlov

We live in a time whose contemporary music escapes easy categorization, constantly blurring borders—genre, origin, identity, creative tradition—yearning for shared spirituality and freedom, yet bound by the requirements of Earthly description. While largely defined by the limitless availability of an entire century’s recordings, this music demands its definitions: pushed by technological, sonic breakthroughs, grounded in the classic conversations of rhythm and improvisation. Like other aspects of modern life, it needs to be both familiar and innovative.

In many ways, the Italian percussionist-producer-composer Tommaso Cappellato has been striving towards his own version of this music for two decades; and on Pioneered, his seventh album as a bandleader and the inaugural release on his Domanda Music label, he has begun achieving it. Pioneered was born from a global ecosystem of wild ideas, a longtime natural habitat for creative breakthroughs. Yet Cappellato’s work synthesizes elements that are marks of a distinctly modern world of a global culture, and the joys and tragedies that inform it.

Tommaso hails from Northern Italy, and began playing drums at a young age. It drove him towards a jazz studies degree at New York’s New School, where his mentors included Pharoah Sanders’ drummer Michael Carvin, and where he studied with a who’s who of improvisation giants (drummer like Billy Hart, Joe Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, and bassist such as Reggie Workman, Cecil McBee, and Buster Williams). By night, he played in the house band at the world famous Rainbow Room—with, among others, the late Harry Whitaker, pianist with Roy Ayers’ Ubiquity in the ’70s—and soaked in the city’s rap and house music. This resulted in a turn-of-the-century love affair with the sounds of the Big Apple, from hip-hop to hard bop, which, mixed with his homeland’s forever-roots, cemented the permanent multicultural aspirations of Tommaso’s music.

Cappellato never stopped playing what is often regarded as “jazz” (see his spiritual ensemble, Astral Travel), less as its traditionalist minder than a conductor of great Black American music’s ideas to far-flung contexts, often invoking a love of electronic production. He’s found himself in collaborative situations with techno and house producers like Donato Dozzy and Khalab, Egyptian composer Maurice Louca, UK broken-beat multi-instrumentalist Kaidi Tatham, London’s massive saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, and genius vocalists Dwight Trible and Roba El-Essawy, among many others across four continents. Like his oft colleague, the New Zealand keyboards/synths wiz Mark de Clive Lowe, Cappellato is regarded as a rhythmalist and an improviser, shaping the art of the electronic dance from a large arsenal of spontaneous, optimistic creation.

The borderless culture that sowed the seeds for Pioneered also gave rise to the institution where Cappellato brought the album it’s kinda named after into being. Pioneer Works is a multi-purpose arts space (gallery venue, studio, clubhouse) in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood; and in September of 2018, Cappellato participated in its highly respected music residency program. The program’s timing was perfect (a long-term relationship in Italy was hitting a rocky path), and for Tommaso the faraway opportunity “came as a breath of fresh air.” Arriving at Pioneer Works with no predetermined creative ideas, Tommaso choose to be guided by chance, spending a month recording tracks with a variety of old friends (reed player Michael Blake, vibraphonist Yusuke Yamammoto, flautist Mariano Gil), new acquaintances (bassist Shahzad Ismaily, trumpeter jaimie branch, electronic producer Afrika Sciences, guitarist Nico Soffiato, saxophonist Francesco Germiani), and those he encountered via circumstance (turntablist Val Jeanty, violinist Justine Celafù). The resulting sounds deeply hinted at the shifts that were shaping all society at the time, imbued with a natural sense of personal and global loss, yet also a strange hope based in the community-building that Cappellato’s music often aspires to.

Though every track on Pioneered rests upon Tommaso’s drums and percussion ideas, what gives the album meaning and a novel depth are contexts shaped by collaboration. Call it fusioneering! This idea is exemplified in the sounds by the two players besides Cappellato who add parts to multiple tracks. Ismaily’s electric bass and Moog bring elements of the future and the funk (“Bikes, Rides & Tides” is a percussive powerhouse, a low-key electronic dub excursion); while Blake’s bansuri flute and layered tenor saxophone elevate the music heavenward (“Angels in Space” splits an intense difference between jazz spirituality and new age mood). Both appear on “Legend of the Bringer,” the album’s jazz-dance stand-out, built on an organ lick that harkens to Stax instrumentals, while a bevy of textures (vibes, woodwinds, light strings) percolate between historicity and modernity, all in the spirit of profound fun.

At other times, sample-based abstraction is the flavor of the day. “The Elite,” with branch’s echo-heavy trumpet and Jeanty’s turntable scratches and vignettes, is the clarion call of a thoroughly modernist, triumphalist trio. On “So Hard to Be Apart,” Cappellato and Afrikan Sciences create a smokey noir scene out of classic piano samples, playing with the emotions of lovers navigating separate darknesses. Raw emotions are also central to the tracks where Tommaso goes it alone, especially “Green Is the Color of the Heart,” a psychologically reflective post-rock moment.

When he was done recording at Pioneer Works, Cappellato took the music back home—first to Italy, then his new home in Los Angeles—where he began shaping it towards finality. He did some mixing on his own before enlisting Dave Vettraino, best known as the in-house engineer for Chicago’s great International Anthem Recordings; then shared the results with his trusted old collaborator Dozzy, who transferred the sounds to tape. Two-plus years and one pandemic later, Pioneered speaks to that month Tommaso spent in Brooklyn, “a story about the experience of recording, about the people who came through during that time, the interesting encounters and conversations, my deep learning and understanding.” Yet Pioneered transcends that finite period to get at something universal, “A desire to tell a different story to the world, another history of the world.” Categories of story-telling be damned.

ABOUT Domanda Music

Pioneered is the first release on Tommaso Cappellato’s newly launched, Los Angeles-based label, Domanda Music. An imprint that has been in the works for several years, Domanda is a partnership with Mother Tongue, an independent label, distributor and pressing plant based in Verona, Italy. It is also a familial collaboration of sorts: the art of Domanda’s early releases will feature the work of the late graphic designer and illustrator Giorgio Pasini, father of Andrea Pasini, the actual vinyl presser at Mother Tongue. The idea is to bring attention to specific Italian visual aesthetics inspired by the Kinetic Art movement of the early 1960s, and whose creative epicentre was in Cappellato’s hometown of Padova. Upcoming Domanda Music releases will include an array of styles and sounds from Cappellato’s mentors, peers and colleagues across multiple continents.

Astral Travel – “If You Say You Are From This Planet, Why Do You Treat It Like You Do?” out on Hyperjazz Records March 20 2020

Enter a world in which drummer and composer Tommaso Cappellato leads a new configuration of his Astral Travel ensemble, comprised of select improvisers from the contemporary creative music scene.

Inspired by the poetry of Sun Ra inscribed within the pages of the book “This Planet Is Doomed”, the music and lyrics focus on the current consciousness of the planet, raising questions and issues of humanity’s collective spiritual direction. The body of work contained in this album is the result of numerous live-in-studio improvisations, deconstructed in a meticulous post-production process by avant-garde electronic producer Rabih Beaini.

Vocalists Dwight Trible and Camilla Battaglia sing and declaim the poems, which are enveloped in a spontaneous musical magma. Each piece is collectively created by Tommaso Cappellato on drums along with pianist Fabrizio Puglisi, reeds player Piero Bittolo Bon, who also contributes to the electronic soundscape, and double bassist Marco Privato. Astral Travel was created in memory of Cappellato’s late mentor, pianist and arranger Harry Whitaker, composer of the ‘70s masterpiece “Black Renaissance”.

Butterflying Bonus Tracks and New Video

Starting October 16 I will be touring with my solo act and with some musical heavy weights in several cities across the US. The tour is supported by Italia Music Export, powered by SIAE. Facebook events and ticket links below.

For the occasion I’m releasing two new Butterflying Bonus Tracks and a new video clip of “No Flies For A Closed Mouth” (feat. Piero Bittolo Bon) contained in the original “Butterflying LP” out on Mother Tongue Records. Copies of the vinyl will be available at each show. Cover Designs by Raimund Wong.

 

Tommaso Cappellato US Tour Supported by Italia Music Export

My upcoming US tour courtesy of Italia Music Export starts October 16 at some of my favorite spots around the country. I’ll be performing with my solo act as well as collaborating with some musical heavy weights!

For the occasion I’ll be releasing two Butterflying Bonus Tracks mixed & mastered by none other than Zeroh out on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms on October 15.

Here the details, hope to see you soon somewhere!

10.16 Trio + C. Brown & Y. Yamamoto – Bar Lunatico, Brooklyn (NY)
10.18 Solo + Nickodemus + Spy From Cairo – Nublu, New York (NY)
10.22 Solo + Korgy & Bass – The Hallowed Halls, Portland (OR)
10.23 Solo + Carlos Overall & Friends – Royal Room, Seattle (WA)
10.25 Solo + Mark de Clive-Lowe “Church” – Cafe Stritch, San Jose (CA)
10.26 Solo + Mark de Clive-Lowe “Church” – Spirithaus, Oakland (CA)
10.27 Solo + Mark de Clive-Lowe “Church” – Teragram, Los Angeles (CA)
10.29 Dub + Todd Simon “Hodgepodge” – Apotheke, Los Angeles (CA)

Many thanks to Re::life Bookings, Jonathan Rudnick at Soul’d Out Productions for putting it all together and Edoardo Cantarella at Weird Studio for the graphic design. Flyer photo by Elena Botti.

Upperground Orchestra plays Panorama Bar and releases “Euganea”

After three years of hiatus Upperground Orchestra – led by Rabih Beaini and featuring Piero Bittolo-Bon, Alvise Seggi, Tommaso Cappellato and new entry as an additional drummer Daniele De Santis – will be performing at legendary techno venue Berghain-Panorama Bar in Berlin, Germany as part of a label two-nights event presenting four new releases.

FACEBOOK EVENT

The Upperground Orchestra LP, titled Euganea, was recorded at the Renaissance-era Villa dei Vescovi outside Padua in 2016 during the Musica Veneta residency supported by Fondo Ambiente Italiano. It’s the four-piece electronic jazz group’s first release since 2012’s The Eupen Takes. The lineup for Euganea features Beaini on electronics and spatula, Tommaso Cappellato on drums and percussion, Alvise Seggi on bass and oud plus Piero Bittolo Bon on woodwinds and electronics. The five-track LP is out October 7th.

 

 

“Butterflying” out on Mother Tongue Records

Butterflying — the latest offering from Italian multi-instrumentalist, producer and selector, Tommaso Cappellato — is an honest celebration of musical evolution.

Inspired by a recent trip to NYC (where he spent most of his formative years) and a beat tape by definition, these eight tracks saunter between lo-fi hip hop and free jazz, from downtempo electronica to ambient bliss; the result of an open-hearted approach to discovery and time spent meticulously unearthing, rearranging and merging old and new material.It’s this ‘built with care’ attitude that makes Butterflying the perfect first release on dj/producer Patrick Gibin’s groundbreaking new venture, Mother Tongue. Started in 2019, it houses an independent record label, vinyl pressing plant, distribution and shop under one roof, prioritising growing quality relationships with quality artists.

Download + Vinyl here: https://mothertonguerecords.bandcamp.com/album/tommaso-cappellato-butterflying

 

Mother Tongue Records Launch Party

Saturday May 4 Mother Tongue vinyl pressing plant, record label & distribution launch party will be happening in Verona, Italy with a stellar lineup of djs and live musicians: Volcov, Kaidi Tatham, Patrick Gibin, Gin Tonic Orchestra & yours truly! make sure you get your tickets in advance as space is limited. Supported by Sounds Familiar.

Mother Tongue will be releasing Tommaso’s upcoming beat tape “Butterflying” on May 21. Pre-sales will start on May 6.

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/273478613573940/

Upcoming Solo in Detroit, April 26

Excited to be debuting in Detroit at Motorcity Wine on April 26. I’ll be presenting a new solo set featuring tracks contained in the upcoming beat tape soon to be released on Mother Tongue Records. Opening set: Leafar!

FB EVENT

Solo Live Recording at Fylkingen in Stockholm

During the debut week in Stockholm of “Elephantine”, a 9-piece band presented by Egyptian musician and composer Maurice Louca – and which I’m part of as one of two drummers – I had the opportunity to introduce a more experimental side of my solo Aforemention, using exclusively acoustic drums, Sunhouse Sensory Percussion and a JDXI Roland synth.

The whole set is based on improvisation around 5 scenes, or movements. There is a whole plot I’m developing but won’t reveal any of it until it’s fully conceived. In the meantime you can listen to the recording masterfully executed by experimental musician, sound engineer and art director John Chantler.

Tommaso teams up with Sunhouse Sensory Percussion

In the beginning of 2018 I joined forces with avant-thinking company Sunhouse Sensory Percussion and acquired four of their sensors to enhance my solo performances. Since then my Aforemention set has reached a new plateau in terms of sound, direction and versatility.

The sensors are attached to each of the four drums and have three methods of sound acquisition: optical, acoustic and magnetic. Each sensor communicates with the audio interface (through XLR cables) which then transfers the signal to an AI software made by the Sunhouse company itself. The software tells the sensors to split each drum in 10 different virtual parts, each assignable with countless samples, sounds, loops, effects and automations. The possibilities are infinite!

One of the things I like the most is assigning a note to one or more drums and automate the pitch according to the velocity of my strokes. You can even choose what kind of harmonic scale should the automation follow. My personal preference is to use these sensors with acoustic drums, although you can choose to use mesh heads instead and just go for the electronic sounds while still playing a drum kit.

In this video I play three short demos with some sounds I imported from my own library. New audio/video material on the way soon!