The Italian city of Naples has always been set apart due to its storied past of cultural influences and incursions from Greece, Northern Africa, Spain and France, to name just a few.
In a continuation of this cultural mix, the Italian singer Mafalda Minnozzi and the Brazilian pianist André Mehmari have teamed up to dive headfirst into eight beautiful Neopolitan melodies with a modern jazz sensibility that answers their collective call to delight in these songs in a not so classic setting.
Mafalda’s dedicated study of Neopolitan song and dialect, her experience in the jazz clubs of NY, the concert stages of S. America and her tours throughout Italy’s theaters and jazz festivals have all served to prepare her for this unique and heartfelt vocal performance on this CD alongside the brilliant piano of André Mehmari.
Mehmari’s career as a multi-instrumentalist, symphonic and film composer and world renowned pianist in jazz, Brazilian and classical circuits find him to be Mafalda’s perfect partner in crime as the two adventure into these songs with a courageous and improvisational spirit that seems to provoke and surprise not only one another, but the listeners and even the songs composers as well.
On this voyage we can find Mehmari as both jazz improviser and classical composer in a merging of Napoli with his own cultural roots of Brazilian Samba, Baiao and Afoxe, in tandem with Minnozzi’s profoundly creative vocal with its ancestral links to Italian melodrama and French cabaret delivered with her standout use of the voice as an element of instrumental jazz.
Despite all the importance of their preparation, this CD captures their mutual love of these songs in a pure and simple elegance that is sometimes playful, sometimes solemn but always refreshing and there could be no better songbook than the one from Naples to provide such a rich backdrop for their collective ingenuity and talent.
To “sing Naples” is to reveal a mystery of plots of the many lives of its heroines and heroes who, moved by a deep passion, left their mark over the many centuries. To sing Naples is to enter into the history of its people and peoples who’ve walked through its alleys that reach out to the sea. It is the composer Donizetti anonymously winking at the city’s mythical character Pulcinella who dances with the beautiful Sofia Loren in homage to Napoli’s Queen Margherita.
To sing Naples is to celebrate love and bow to its precious beauty. “See Naples and then die,” wrote the poet, suffering from melancholy as he left her. To sing Naples is to unveil her in the poetry of “A Livella” by Napoli’s crowned prince “Totó”, to discover her in the harmonies of Pino Daniele and in the voice of Massimo Ranieri and to tell of her through the thousands of characters in her eternal living cradle. It must be done with humility, consciousness and freedom and Andrè Mehmari did just that, placing his imagination and immense talent at the service of these timeless melodies ”. [Mafalda Minnozzi]
Heart and soul. Voice and piano together to leaf through pages of the timeless Neapolitan songbook. Mafalda generously invites me to travel with her in this fascinating universe and I respond with the sound and aura of my own “invisible city”, much like the one invented by Italo Calvino. Through this city we sail with closed eyes and open hearts … we get lost, we allow ourselves to be led by unknown paths and unlikely intersections. A distant sound is heard, a whistling, a passionate sigh echoes in the starry night. Music, the great Mother of encounters, blesses us and guides us on this journey through time and space. To sail is a necessity! Grazie mille! [André Mehmari]
- ANEMA E CORE (D. Titomaglio/S. D’Esposito)
- CU’MME (E. Gragnaniello)
- ERA DE MAGGIO (M. Costa/S. Di Giacomo)
- I’ TE VURRIA VASÀ (E. Di Capua/V. Russo)
- MALAFEMMENA (A. De Curtis)
- REGINELLA (G. Lama/L. Bovio)
- STO CORE MIO (Orlando Di Lasso)
- SANTA LUCIA LUNTANA (E.A.Mario)