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FARFALLE (Butterflies) by Pietro Tonolo Gil Goldstein Paolo Birro

Believe it or not, it is not compulsory, and not even all that important, despite the semantics that appear with regularity in the musical interplay, almost as though this were one of the added values. Semantics are a philosophical concept that follow the times and movements caused by change (evolutionary or involutional, dynamic or stationary) of the society in which we live. So, while some believe that sound is an entity enclosed within itself (an old and neutral hope of some twentieth century avant-garde), others consider the minutely descriptive style one of the purest expressions of musical abstractionism. Yet others are committed to that "musique d’ameublement" (today possibly transformed into new-age or ambient) that Satie would have liked to impose upon his audience, thereby anticipating the tastes of the end of the 20th century, which is often hidden in an anonymous sound destined to create "in vitro" sensationalism. I think that Pietro Tonolo is one of the few jazz musicians able to perpetuate a study that can still give body and meaning to notes. An artist that, like Max Weber, asks the question, "What is music?". This is difficult to answer, although, in being descriptive, slightly impressionist, but never extravagant or fleeting, bound to the figurative side, not simply "divulging" the notes (capable of experiencing them, portraying them), he does offer us some small clues on how to acquire the skills to examine this production. The formal structure of the recording is of concreteness and randomness (let us not consider the term musically but only metaphorically), giving the sense of a completeness and of a precision that do not, however, seek to be entirely well-finished or rigid.

In "Farfalla", if we are to speak of semantics, can we imagine, or can the image be, something different projected inside us? It is there emotionally, in the "flourishes" of the sax and in the accordion that Gil Goldstein commands in a pointillist manner, of a craftsman of the sound of a popular festival seen from the window of the soul. And yet, it is not that simple; there is a tango (Abartil), and themes, that reveal an ethnicity (The Phoenicians) captured with vigor and with the need to start a "spiteful" game of reminders, of passages where the improvisation is the natural extension of the melody. With harmonies and tone colors, the saxophonist explores his world of tender ambiguities, of songs without words (although the line of the cantabile is strong), of tales without pages (imagination is all that is needed), of poems made up of accents and lyrical blends. Space is a determining concept, the nth one, because it makes you think of a sort of "marginality", of disturbing remoteness, of a restless search. These seven pieces drift one into the other, the notes that make them up live on "spatiality", on the contrasts of this strongly Mediterranean entity, which considers time with wisdom, as do Tonolo’s solos, occasionally "abandoned" to the interaction of piano, accordion and double bass, which vary, resume, regain possession of the magic of the themes. Pietro processes the material in all of its multifarious aspects; he does it revealing always a particular interest in structural conflicts, in harmonic annotations, in shades. The charm of the counterpoint, the levity of the rapid passages with an almost chamber music-like imprint (in Arco), the piercing staining of the tenor, which phrases with a bold clarity, abandoning any application of style, transform "Farfalle" into a little masterpiece. It is a question of mutant layers of sound; of synthesis, action and transformation in a continuous becoming, where the sense of measure and of proportion plays an essential "driving" role. A work, therefore, that does not manifest the idea of street bazaar folklore, that does not stick jazz onto tradition, that does not do its "little deed" just to please. A work, rather, that, by using "conversion processes" (the starting data serve to overcome the conventionalism of sound) courageously drifts towards dynamic overtures ready to welcome a new concept of modernity that is not only the expression of a brawny act of virtuosity, but also, and above all, of an emotional, human interaction. This is why Paolo Birro, on piano, and Pietro Ciancaglini, on double bass, are the leaders of a "drift" rhythm, and not only the protagonists of a simple accompaniment.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Pietro Tonolo Gil Goldstein Paolo Birro
  • CD Title: FARFALLE (Butterflies)
  • Genre: Ambient Jazz
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: EGEA Records
  • Tracks: The Phoenitians, Perugia...
  • Musicians: PIETRO TONOLO, sax GIL GOLDSTEIN, accordion PAOLO BIRRO, piano PIETRO CIANCAGLINI, double-bass
  • Rating: Five Stars
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