Fonè 142 SACD
Jazz - Vocal
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2. Una palabra (Carlos Varela) - 3.19
3. Madalena (Ivan Lins) - 4.03
4. Piccolissima serenata (Ferrio/Amurri) - 3.21
5. Fina estampa (Chabuca Granda) - 3.03
6. Una ragione di piu’ (Reitano/Califano) - 3.29
7. È scesa ormai la sera (Ferri/Pintucci) - 4.19
8. Se non avessi più te (Migliacci/Bacalov/Zambrini) - 4.37
9. Nessuno al mondo (Nebb/Rastrelli) - 3.53
10. Algo contigo (Andres Calamaro) - 3.51
11. High and dry (Radiohead) - 2.31
12. Nueva (Hugo Fattoruso) - 5.19
13. Mother nature’s son (Lennon/Mc Cartney) - 3.00
Review by Mark Werlin - November 4, 2015
"Dos" is an intriguing session for two players that blurs the boundaries of popular song, jazz and avant-garde music.
The thirteen selections on the SACD (also released on LP and download) comprise Italian, Brazilian, Spanish-language and British pop songs deconstructed to duet arrangements by vocalist Eleonora Bianchini and bassist Enzo Pietropaoli. It's a daring concept, expertly and elegantly realized.
Label owner Giulio Cesare Ricci's motivation for starting a record company is described on the Fonè Records website:
"ricci’s infinite passion and indefinable madness led him to become a creative activity himself: fonè."
It may require indefinable madness to operate an audiophile label in an era of corporate-dominated cultural production, fragmentary audiences for art music, and widespread distribution of low-resolution audio. It certainly requires creative vision and engineering expertise to produce an artistically successful recording of such high audio standards.
"Dos" was recorded by Signor Ricci in the resonant acoustic of Pieve del Convento dei Cappuchini, a monastery church located in Peccioli, in the Tuscany region of Italy. The recording equipment used at the session should set the hearts of audiophiles racing, particularly vintage microphone enthusiasts: Neumann U47, U48 and M49 valve microphones, dCS A/D and D/A converters, Pyramix DSD workstation. The liner notes indicate that no editing was performed. This is a 'purist' original DSD recording, a document of the live performance.
The legendary, silky-sounding Neumann U47 and U48 microphones that once captured the voices of Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra are prized by today's recording engineers, and require expert repair and restoration to preserve their distinctive upper-mid coloration and bloom. Ricci designed his own mic preamps, which have a very low noise floor. I could not detect any hum, crackle or distortion at any level in these highly dynamic performances.
Eleonora Bianchini is a young Italian vocalist, pianist, and guitarist from Perugia. Like so many of her generation of aspiring jazz artists, she has been drawn to study, work and reside in the centers of contemporary music and performance. Her conservatory credentials include attendance at the prestigious Berklee School in Boston. She established a performing career in New York, then devoted two years to teaching in Ecuador. She has a special interest in Latin American and Brazilian popular song that is evident in the selection of material for "Dos". While her vocal instrument can range from a breathy whisper to a full-throated fortissimo, she doesn't overemphasize technique at the expense of interpretative subtlety.
Bianchini's obvious affection—and respect—for Italian songwriters who were active in the 1960s shapes the central portion of the disc's program. Works by songwriting teams such as Ferrio/Amurri and Reitano/Califano were composed and recorded well before Bianchini's time; but the cool tone of her collaborative engagement with jazz bassist Enzo Pietropaoli precludes nostalgia. Their recreations of half-century-old songs evoke a spectrum of moods from playful to elegiac; the minimal settings of voice and bass spotlight the emotional content of the lyrics while advancing a modernist musical statement.
Bianchini and Pietropaoli's interpretation of the Led Zeppelin song "Kashmir" opens the disc and provides an English-language doorway to the non-Italian-literate. It's a virtuoso performance that situates the listener both in the acoustic space of the Convento dei Cappuchini church and the virtual space of the druggy 1970s. The minimal arrangement, which includes what sounds like a toy piano or celesta, showcases the melodic lines as a vehicle for the textures of the voice and bass blended with room reverberation. The slap of the bow against the strings produces a complex sound that varies with the string pitch and force of the strike. The church acoustic functions almost as a third musician.
Cuban nueva trova songwriter Carlos Varela's "Una Palabra" begins with a haunting unaccompanied vocal: "a word does not say anything / and at the same time hides everything" (translation). This could be the credo of the entire disc: the paradox of language as a carrier of emotion and concealer of meaning. Bianchini brings out the poignancy and romantic yearning of the lyrics, conveying the melody, which has become widely known through its presence on film soundtracks, with honest simplicity.
The set moves through a sequence of Italian, Brazilian and Spanish popular songs, then arrives at Uruguayan composer Hugo Fattoruso's song "Nueva". A longtime collaborator of the great Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento, Fattoruso writes lovely melodies. On "Nueva", Bianchini adopts a slow tempo that is perfectly balanced against Pietropaoli's sparse bass accompaniment; she brings emotional clarity to Fattoruso's somewhat obscure lyrics. A double-stopped bass chord and soft finger-snapping introduces the final song, The Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son", sung sweetly and without irony.
"Dos" is a labor of love: love of popular song and the interplay of voice and instrument; and a love-letter to the art of natural sound recording.
Signor Ricci: Saluto la vostra follia indefinibile.
Copyright © 2015 Mark Werlin and HRAudio.net