Roberta Mameli: ’ROUND M: Monteverdi Meets Jazz on GLOSSA Print E-mail
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Friday, 25 March 2011

’ROUND M: Monteverdi Meets Jazz Roberta Mameli (s); Emanuele Cisi (s-sax/t-sax); Fausto Beccalossi (acc); Alberto Lo Gatto (db); Donato Stolfi (perc); Claudio Cavina, cond; La Venexiana GLOSSA 30917 (61:10 Text and Translation)

MONTEVERDI Lamento della ninfa. Ohimè ch’io cado. Romanesca—Ohimè dov’e il mio ben. Sì dolc’è il tormento. SANCES Usurpator tiranno. MERULA Canzonetta spirituale sopra la nanna. FONTEI Pianto di Erinna. NEGRI Transfigurazione della ninfa

This is a musical concept that doesn’t quite work for me, the reason being that the musical concepts fused here are too different in style. Monteverdi was surprisingly fluid and free-form for his day, to be sure, but the form of jazz it’s fused to here is a modern bop style, à la early 1960s John Coltrane or mid 1960s Sonny Rollins, and those two styles just have too little in common other than flexibility of form. Moreover, the addition of rhythm instruments actually closes Monteverdi’s rhythmic concept, which is more flowing than this. That being said, Roberta Mameli impresses me greatly as an early-music singer—she has not only a beautiful voice, but the correct concept of legato and rhythmic flow so essential to good performances of Monteverdi (and his contemporaries Giovanni Sances, Terquinio Merula, Nicolò Fontei, and Antonio Negri)—but she doesn’t quite swing, and thereby lies some of the problem. The Italian rhythm section of Alberto Lo Gatto on bass and Donato Stolfi on drums also has trouble swinging, a problem that has afflicted Italian jazz at least as far back as the late 1940s, when Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli made a large number of recordings with an Italian piano trio. Emanuele Cisi is an excellent jazz saxophonist despite not quite meshing. The use of an accordion on some numbers is a particularly bad idea, mostly because Fausto Beccalossi isn’t much of a jazz player and his texture adds nothing while distracting one’s attention from the musical line. I give it a B+ for effort, an A- for Mameli’s singing, and a C- for overall effectiveness. This is the kind of music that an outside-the-box musician such as Ornette Coleman could have done something with, but only just. More closed-form composers like Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and Chopin work better in a fusion with jazz than the music of Monteverdi and his peers. Lynn René Bayley

Last Updated ( Friday, 25 March 2011 )
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