Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Music From Italy

Stefano Giust
"What type of music can represent the contemporary world? Doubtless it would be modern music, the type of music that has its roots in the reality of daily life, that reports on social upheavals and the fact that the majority of the public couldn't care less about music. At the same time there would have to be — as is true of any truth — something sensational about it and to this aim it would suffice for it not to be false..." Fred K. Prieberg, Musica Ex Machina, Berlin, 1960. (From the Setola Di Maiale website)

I have Stef’s Free Jazz Blog to thank for introducing me to the Italian musician-owned label Setola Di Maiale and to Gianni Lenoci’s album Empty Chair in particular. Setola Di Maiale (which according to Google Translate means “Bristle Pig”) is a musician’s collective started in 1993 by drummer Stefano Giust to document work in a high-quality CDR format. As the website states, “Self-produced music and DIY attitude inevitably are the only way for (a) certain type of music to exist, in a market that either is clearly not there, or is stereotyped.”

Gianni Lenoci Hocus Pocus 4 + Taylor Ho Bynum
Empty Chair

Gianni Lenoci - Piano
Vittorio Gallo - Soprano Sax
Pasquale Gadaleta – Double Bass
Giacomo Mongelli – Drums
Taylor Ho Bynum - Cornet

For Empty Chair, Lenoci’s quartet is augmented by Taylor Ho Bynum, and the result is a stellar effort in which compositions, mostly by Lenoci, are interspersed with a series of duets between Bynum and each band member. The album is capped off with a collective improvisation. The compositions are intriguing, building episodically rather than in a head-solos-head manner. The duets fold in well with the composed pieces, and there’s a very cohesive feel to the whole album.


Nils Gerold - Flute
Nicola Guazzaloca - Piano
Stefano Giust - Drums

I’m generally steering clear of free improv dates these days, as I feel that there are relatively few musicians who can sustain interest in that format. This one, however, is an exception. I don’t know how long this group has been playing together, but they are a very close-knit unit. That they can turn on a dime from intense rumbling passages to sparse meditation has me wondering if maybe there are composed elements to this, or some kind of pre-arranged structure. At any rate, I like that there’s an underlying sense of purpose behind the music, it’s not just meandering about.

Guazzaloca uses dark, dense clusters that will remind you of Cecil Taylor, but he’s not a slavish imitator and has his own language as well. Guist alternates between a Cyrille-like fleetness and something heavier, almost tympani-like in places. Gerold concentrates on the “natural” sound of the flute rather than extended techniques and impresses as well. Here's a clip with some of the music:

Both can be ordered through the Setola Di Maiale website.


  1. I'm a Setola di Maiale fan! It's one of the best indipendent italian label, thanks for this post!


  2. You're welcome! I'm very glad I discovered this music.

  3. Dear Craig,
    thank you so much for your review!
    all my best
    Gianni Lenoci