“This exquisite disc Cinema City, from the captivating vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi, celebrates the music of great Italian cinema which positively glows with its soaring, beautifully arched melodic lines, sung with seductive ingenuity by Miss Minnozzi,…The songs seem to speak to her in the secret of her heart so that they become “hers” when she sings them. But then, I’ve always believed her to be made almost entirely of music itself…”
Raul Da Gama – latinjazznet.com
ABOUT THE RECORDING
While planning and recording the album in Brazil during the COVID-19 lockdown, Minnozzi reflected on how personal the project was becoming as it provoked some hidden memories of hers. “It occurred to me that just as the character Totò, from Cinema Paradiso, revisited his life via the clips from the films he grew up with, I too sang these songs as if they were scenes from life. They reconnected me with what they meant to me from my childhood all throughout my artistic evolution,” shares Minnozzi. With the exception of the English lyric on the little known Henry Mancini composition “Loss of Love”, all the music on Cinema City accompanied the singer throughout various peaks and valleys of her life.
Each track on Cinema City imparts its own mood on the listener and the adept arrangements act as a creative springboard for brilliant improvisation. Breaking free from the more obvious classical or popular approach these songs are known for, Minnozzi takes full advantage of her dramatic interpretive power, her sublime vocal range, and cosmopolitan perspective to present her singular take on these timeless compositions.
Cinema City starts off with “La Dolce Vita”, the iconic Nino Rota tune from Federico Fellini’s 1960 film of the same name. Combining a touch of New Orleans, this joyous opener features the great Graham Haynes on flugelhorn and prominently features Minnozzi’s expert scat singing. “This track had me flashing back to the many lunches I had sitting across from Fellini at a tiny Roman cafe we both frequented, and the quick conversation and courteous nods we would exchange with a smile,” Minnozzi reflects. Haynes is also featured on “Amici Miei” which comes from the cult film of the same name and elicits Minnozzi’s childhood memories of growing up in the back of her father’s restaurant in Italy.
Another highlight is “Cinema Paradiso”, which features special guest NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman. For those familiar with the film, it is impossible to hear Morricone’s title track without being transported to its emotional beauty and power. Augmented by drummer Ricardo Mosca’s tasteful Afro-Latin percussion, Liebman and Minnozzi create a positively hypnotic atmosphere together that is at once meditative and explosive. In addition to the title track, Minnozzi takes on two other songs from Cinema Paradiso including “Se” and the album closer “Maturity”. The film holds special significance for Minnozzi. In 1996, she was invited to perform at Paradiso, a club in Rio de Janeiro modeled after the film. This short engagement (which resulted in her 1996 album Uma Noite no Paradiso II) began the singer’s 25+ year relationship with Brazil, which became her second home.
Pianist Art Hirahara joins on organ for five tunes. The first feature is “Anonimo Veneziano”, which comes from the 1970 film about romantic reconciliation of a past love at the end of a life. The richness of the story gives Minnozzi all the dramatic inspiration she needs to soar as this tune perfectly exemplifies her ability to turn heads with her remarkably dynamic and melodic range. Prolific composer Stelvio Cipriani, who would often listen to the singer perform at famous club La Cabala, displays a distinctly Italian sensibility in his writing as the song undergoes multiple key changes but still preserves an organic, natural mood. The second feature for Hirahara is “E La Chiamano Estate”, which was one of the first songs to pull Minnozzi toward jazz. Its composer, Bruno Martino, is best known in jazz circles for his classic “Estate” but this lesser known selection is every bit as iconic in Italian jazz culture. Ricci’s jazz guitar imparts a tinge of Wes Montgomery that, combined up with Hirahara’s classic organ ballad sonic, align this tune with the great American jazz club standards.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
With an extensive recording and touring career in Brazil, Italy and a presence on the scene of the NY jazz clubs, Italian singer Mafalda Minnozzi has worked for the recognition of the great Italian and Brazilian songbooks alongside the great American standards.
In Brasil her collaborations with Guinga, Leny Andrade, Milton Nascimento, Martinho Da Vila and her NY recordings with Art Hirahara, Dave Liebman, Graham Haynes, Will Calhoun, Essiet Okon Essiet, Helio Alves, Rogerio Boccato, Gene Bertoncini and others, has garnered accolades from critics and institutions such as the State of Rio De Janeiro, Italian consultes in Sao Paulo and Los Angeles and concert and festival appearances in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Italy, Germany, Austria.
Mafalda carries the rich European tradition of onstage storytelling with a spontaneity and a flexible swinging groove that living in Brazil and NY bestows on the curious artist.
Mafalda is currently in rotation on WBGO and KUVO among other leading jazz radio stations in the USA.