Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Yet another iconoclast Italian.
greg taylor | Portland, Oregon United States | 04/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the central mysteries of the sociology (or would it be the history) of music for me is the way that a city or country will occassionally explode with a creative generation (or several such) within a genre.
Italy during the last twenty years seems to have undergone such a creative collective epiphany within the realm of jazz. There simply seems to be no end of artists coming out of Italy that are bending jazz in so many new directions. I sort of hate to say it but I kinda think they may be beating us at our own game. So be it. Because the music is amazing.
Giannin Gebbia is a Sicilian who has been influenced by Ornette Coleman and Evan Parker among others. Like Parker, Gebbia is a master of circular breathing which he uses to create endless lines of polyphonic variations on melodic fragments. Gebbia seems less of a force of nature than Parker and more attuned to what the other members of his group are doing than Parker sometimes is (I hate to say it but sometimes Evan Parker is going to play what he is going to play no matter what happens around him or so it seems to these ears).
In this particular recording from the 1997 Musique Actuelle festival, Gebbia is joined by Miriam Palma (voice and percussion) and by Vittorio Villa (drums, percussion, didjeridoo, and I swear to Zeus a jaw harp or two). Palma in particular is a revelation. Her voice can be as pure and as warm as any art singer but she also generates growling multiphonic chordal effects or this weird perfectly pitched buzzing. I would love to see her live. Villa never really states a consistent beat but decorates the rhythm and supports both Palma and Gebbia with great sensitivity. And who doesn't love the sound of the dijeridoo?
I wish I could describe the music more effectively for you but this is pretty unusual stuff. This is a music that is improvised so carefully it sounds almost fully written out. The organizer of the Musique Actuelle festival (whose name I have forgotten) is noted for refusing to define what 'Musique Actuelle' might mean. I would guess that this CD would provide as good an example as any.
For myself, I would say that we live in an era where is increasingly difficult to define what constitutes innovative music. The innovations of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi and Albert Ayler (to name a few) are now a half a century old. Increasingly music of any type is just another commodity to distribute.
But there are some people I hear who still seem to be trying to do something both innovative and heartfelt. Braxton will never be a commodity. Neither will Evan Parker. Nor will most of my beloved Italians. I may not know how to define innovation in music but I still feel it when I hear it. I feel it when I listen to Gebbia. Give him a listen. If only to hear the jaw harp of Villa outlining a path for Palma's vocalizations while Gebbia plays endlessly and brilliant variations on Sicilian folk melodies."