Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

Music from a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Posts Tagged ‘pier paolo pasolini

[music:] Pino Masi, Alla ricerca della madre mediterranea (1978)

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Every revolution needs a soundtrack. Pino Masi, born in Palermo, Sicily, and grown up in Pisa, Tuscany (his father’s hometown), has supplied italian extraparlamentary leftist opposition with protest anthems – mainly acoustic ballads – from late sixties up to mid-seventies such as a local Phil Ochs, becoming a kind of an official songwriter first for Potere Operaio (“workers power”), and then for Lotta Continua (“continuous fight”), two of the biggest and most active communist organizations of those years.

Masi founded in 1966 Canzoniere pisano (“pisan songbook”), a collective of young musicians devoted to developing a new form of political folk song; in 1967 he joined Nuovo canzoniere italiano (“new italian songbook”) – a similar group which gathered singer/songwriters from all over the country, which could be somehow compared to cuban Grupo de Experimentación Sonora – playing with the likes of Giovanna Marini, Giovanna Daffini, Enzo Delre, Ivan Della Mea.

During the hot decade between 1967 and 1977 he worked, among others, with psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, jazz musician Giorgio Gaslini, Nobel prize winner Dario Fo, Julien Beck’s Living Theatre, managing festivals and happenings, co-authoring and writing the score for the documentary 12 dicembre (“december 12th”) by Pier Paolo Pasolini about the 1969 fascist bomb attack in piazza Fontana, Milan (a turning point in italian contemporary history), and releasing a bunch of songs – often instant classics – for the movement, such as La violenza (“the violence”), L’ora del fucile (“the shotgun hour”), La ballata del Pinelli (“the ballad of Pinelli”), never giving up actual militancy.

The peak of this phase came in 1976, with the transitory album Compagno sembra ieri (“comrade, it seems yesterday”) and his legendary nude performance on the main stage at the Parco Lambro alternative music festival in Milan (you can see an excerpt here). But a new level was coming. His friendship with Ornette Coleman and Steve Lacy, met at concerts in Pisa, opened him to the free jazz scene; meanwhile, he had started a personal process of discovering of the mediterranean roots of italian folk, studying south-italian, north-african and middle-eastern musical structures.

Alla ricerca della madre mediterranea (“in search of the mediterranean mother”), released on Cramps in 1978, is the result of these diverse and seemingly incompatible influences: a destructured six-movements free folk simphony echoing Moroccan and Arabian hymnodies, shattered by feverish rythm patterns and broken with experimental inserts, with Masi and his all-star backing band featuring Donald “Rafael” Garrett – formerly bass and wind player with Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, Coleman himself – experimental jazz bassist Roberto Della Grotta, and Lucio Fabbri on the violin, grappling with upset traditionals such as Su patriotu sardu a sos feudatarios (a sardinian protest song from the Eighteenth century, on which is based Procurate moderare), and Abballati abballati, an obsessive tarantella from Sicily.

It’s the dark side of the Mediterranean. Music which comes from an unknown time and space between Luciano Cilio, Area, early Claudio Rocchi and avant folksters such as Aktuala, Canzoniere del Lazio or Carnascialia. Full of mistery, rage and joy of life, just as traditional music manages to be in its highest moments.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Un giorno a Tangeri (“one day in Tangier”)
02, Festa al campo profughi (“feast at the refugee camp”)
03, Procurate moderare (“provide to moderate”)
04, Terrasini perché (“Terrasini because”)
05, Abballati abballati (“dance dance”)
06, Marrakech insieme (“Marrakech together”)

Get it: Pino Masi, Alla ricerca della madre mediterranea (1978 )

In 1986 Pino Masi moved to Sicily to work as a painter, helping his friend Mauro Rostagno with his rehab community Saman, until the latter’s murder by the hands of mafia killers in 1988. He acted as a human shield in the first Iraqi war in 1991, then working as a cooperant with UN in children’s defense and recovery. He now lives in the countryside around Pisa with his family. You can happen to meet him in the town’s taverns, where he sometimes pops up to play old songs as a busker.

His current musical project is the “transmediterranean theatrical-musical company” called Tribal Karma Ensemble. He has also played gigs and recorded with the combat folksters Folkabbestia! from Bari.

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[music:] Lucio Dalla, Il giorno aveva cinque teste (1973)

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It’s amazing to see how fans of italian music from the sixties and the seventies seem to know everything about forgotten, obscure beat or prog acts, and keep posting their lost albums all around the blogosphere, while they totally disregard the work of one of our greatest musical geniuses, which stays up there with Franco Battiato and Lucio Battisti.

Lucio Dalla, born in Bologna in 1943, began as a clarinet player in jazz band, at the end of the fifties. In 1963, while playing in the backing band for the popstar Edoardo Vianello, he met Gino Paoli, who picked him up and helped him kicking off a solo career.

After some 7″, in 1966 he released his first album, 1999: a collection of beat-psych tracks, which also contained an italian version of James Brown’s It’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world, whose lyrics were written by Sergio Bardotti and Luigi Tenco.

His first real masterpiece came in 1970 with Terra di Gaibola (“Gaibola’s land”), but it’s with his participation in the following year’s Sanremo festival with 4/3/1943 –  he came third – that a mass audience noticed him. The song became almost immediately a standard (among many others, Chico Buarque recorded it as “Minha história” in his 1974 Construçao), and was then included in the interlocutory LP Storie di casa mia (“stories from home”, 1971).

And then came 1973. Lucio Dalla had recently begun to hang out at the bookshop in Bologna where Roberto Roversi, the owner and one of the most important italian poets of the past century, used to gather with his fellow writers Pier Paolo Pasolini, Francesco Leonetti, Franco Fortini. Dalla and Roversi decided to start writing together, infusing civil poetry into a yet unheard popular song form which encompassed pop, rythm’n’blues, progressive rock, jazz, folk, musique concréte, contemporary classic elements. The first output of this dreamy collaboration was Il giorno aveva cinque teste (“the day had five heads”).

Never had high and engaged culture managed to deal such effectively with pop music, not giving up profundity and its experimental attitude; never had pop music attempted to such extent to bring to light the very roots of power, rage, pain, spirit, love, joy, without losing its entertaining qualities. Try listen to “L’auto targata “TO”, “La bambina” or “La canzone d’Orlando”, and when you’ll feel that shiver down your back, you’ll get it. Obviously the lyrics are crucial here; anyway you’ll also find some examples of  Dalla’s legendary scat singing and “fake english”, namely in “Pezzo zero”.

Here is the tracklist:

01, L’auto targata “TO” (“the car tagged “TO”)
02, Alla fermata del tram (“at the tram stop”)
03, È lì (“it’s there”)
04, Passato, presente (“past, present”)
05, L’operaio Gerolamo (“working man Gerolamo”)
06, Il coyote (“the coyote”)
07, Grippaggio (“seizing”)
08, La bambina (l’inverno è neve, l’estate è sole) (“the baby girl (winter is snow, summer is sun)”)
09, Pezzo zero (“track zero”, also released as the b-side of a 7″ featuring “Anna bell’Anna” in 1974)
10, La canzone d’Orlando (“the song of Orlando”)

Get it: Lucio Dalla, Il giorno aveva cinque teste (1973)

After two other milestone releases such as Anidride solforosa (“sulphuric dioxide”, 1975) and Automobili (“cars”, 1976), Dalla and Roversi parted their ways. Lucio has been writing himself the lyrics to his songs since then, beginning with the incredible Come è profondo il mare (“how deep is the sea”, 1977), perhaps the most important record in the history of italian pop-rock.

He has released more than thirty albums to date, selling millions copies and achieving a worldwide success with songs such as Caruso, Ayrton, Canzone (“song”).

It would possibly take an entire blog to tell all the lives of Lucio Dalla – for instance, he has been a nominee for the best actor award in the 1967 Venice Film Festival for his role in I sovversivi, by the Taviani brothers, and has been experimenting with opera and film and tv scores. Pay a visit to his official website Pressing Line (in italian) to know more about his recent projects.

[edit: I have just noticed (via Martini & Jopparelli) that a song by Lucio Dalla, “Ulisse coperto di sale” (“Ulysses covered in salt”, from Anidride solforosa) has been recently sampled by the mighty Timbaland for his “Indian Carpet”. Read the whole story.]

Written by alteralter

December 6, 2008 at 4:36 pm