Andrea Grossi BLEND 3
Manuel Caliumi – alto sax
Michele Bonifati – electric guitar
Andrea Grossi – double bass, compositions
Thanks to: my parents (Gianni & Monica) and my family, that gave me the freedom to choose my path; my mentor (Roberto Bonati), who gave me the tools to search my own path; Caterina, who walks beside me whatever path I choose.
Thanks also to Simone Sanvito, Grace Young and Ricardo Costa for the translations.
A special thanks to Maria Borghi and Nino Locatelli of WE INSIST! Records who believed in me and my music, who accepted it without any compromise.
Recorded by Gianmaria Aprile (Dr. Capricorn) at Argo Laboratorium, Gorla Maggiore (VA), on September 24 & 25 2018.
Mixed by Simone Coen (Assistant Engineer: Vito Ruggieri) at Chocolate Audio Studio, Seregno (MB).
Mastered by Andrea De Bernardi at Eleven Mastering, Busto Arsizio (VA).
Cover: Original Lubok “Koncert ital’janskoj truppy” (concert by an italian company), lithography, 1889.
Liner notes by Roberto Masotti / Band Photo by Anna Ferro / Rec Session Photos by Gianni Grossi.
Produced by WE INSIST! Records, 2019
Concert by an italian company
“Let’s go home, Fëkla Kuzminišna! What the hell kind of music is this? I threw my money away. They look like dogs howling in front of a dead man… But can we compare our Van’ka?! When he plays the balalajka, it gives you goosebumps!“
The lubok was a type of popular Russian print widely spread in the 1800s that was hand-colored by women who brushed large spots of bright colors over the painted scenes. The overlap between the colors and the scenes highlighted some details of the picture and, at the same time, created a sort of abstract structure in juxtaposition with the original image.
After seeing some of these prints, I was deeply moved. The powerful contrast between the pure bright color and the simplicity – although often refined – of the print, and the fact that those very bright spots were highlighting some traits of the underlying picture, immediately created a whole universe of sonorities inside of me.
I have been working for a while attempting to merge and mix different languages, hence the name Blend, and I feel as if the lubok, in some way, symbolizes my phase of research that is based on musical “traditions” of the 1900s but also a personal forward-looking style.
Blend 3 is an organism made up of three different but similar personalities. The group explores the diverse sonorities of a trio that, without a predetermined set, utilizes composition and improvisation as its only resources.
By means of this combination of composition and improvisation, what is already written is proposed in an original and revisited way time after time. Concurrently, improvisation as an actual practice rather than as a genre is developed with a deep compositional function. Blend 3 does not know how many pieces it will play or how long it will improvise for. The only thing it knows is its primary need: to come alive repeatedly by researching a constant sense of uniqueness.
Mendicus. It is part of a series of small compositions based on the so-called
“pedali intervallari”, which are pieces of music generated starting from a very simple two or three-note ostinato. The ostinato pattern is not used to delineate the harmonic tonal/modal scope, but rather to determine the area of the intervals to be explored in order to further develop the composition and improvisation. Mendicus implements non-retrogradable rhythms, third intervals (major and minor), as well as minor second intervals.
Iwato (dedicated to Giancarlo “Nino” Locatelli). A very melodic modal piece.
It gets its name from a mode of the Hirajöshi scale, which is used in traditional Japanese music for koto.
The theme – in the ABA form – leaves room before and/or after for a development that is free from the structure but still does not abandon the sound of the mode.
Ru-Bok (“Russian Lubok” dedicated to Roberto Bonati). Represents a sort
of instant translation of what a lubok visually is. As the saxophone lays out a lyrical solo incorporating small fragments of great works by Russian composers (Stravinskij, Prokof’ev, Mussorgskij, Rimskij-Korsakov and more), the double bass and the guitar – as a single instrument – lay long spots of color that cover/highlight the melodic picture painted by the soloist.
SnailTale (dedicated to Michele Bonifati). The only real “song” of the album. It was originally written for an old quartet of Michele’s called SnailTail of which I was a part of.
A very simple melody is juxtaposed to a complex harmony, which reharmonizes the few notes of the theme at every repetition rendering them continuously new and different.
MC (dedicated to Manuel Caliumi). It was written using a personal system of
“note translation” of the letters of the italian alphabet (in this case the letters of the name “Manuel Caliumi”). The result is a rhythmic and instrumentally demanding piece, that nevertheless, does not lose a poetic and melodic imprint – all of which are characteristics of the dedicatee.
1 – Prologue *
2 – Mendicus (Part 1)
3 – Mendicus (Part 2)
4 – Iwato
5 – Ru-Bok
6 – MC
7 – SnailFail **
8 – SnailTale
9 – Van Gundy’s Retreat ***
Total time 40’50”
All the compositions are by A. Grossi
except for: * by M. Caliumi, M. Bonifati, A. Grossi / ** by M. Bonifati / *** by Tim Berne