A steady beat by piano and darkly colored dissonances collide with an ethereal voice, twinned by cello and grounded by luscious bass. This is the title track of Jacopo Ferrazza’s new CD Fantasia, where the music takes off like a bird in flight with a sudden fugue of horns, piano and notes too high to discern with comfort. This imaginative springboard is representative of all nine tracks that are unpredictable and pleasing, unable to be boxed into a preconceived thought. “Old Souls” hangs in the air with its simple opener, a meandering trail that leads to sizzling timekeeping and horns that lay their own identity on top. Swirling to a slower soup, vocals as its own instrument pull it all together. “Blue Glow” uses harmonic echoes to full effect, notes from all angles weaving a cloak of mystery.
Classically trained, why did you start playing jazz in 2003? What was the first jazz music you remember hearing?
I started playing jazz thanks to my father. Since I was a little kid, I was lucky enough to listen to a lot of jazz along with classical and pop music. My first jazz memory was in 1993 when my father took me to the Villa Celimontana festival in Rome to listen to the Paquito D’Rivera orchestra.
In what way did your classical background help you to be a better jazz musician?
Studying classical music allows you to get in touch with musical literature that you wouldn’t have the chance to study in-depth in other fields. It certainly helped me from a harmonic point of view, for the knowledge of forms and for the care of the sound.
Beyond all this, I believe that studying classical music has helped me in the development of melody and the constant search for a melodic path in what I do.
Why did you create this new music in the CD Fantasia and what sets it apart? How did you challenge yourself with the new music?
Writing the music for the new album was a necessity. I felt the need to create an alternative world to the existing one where COVID and loneliness were raging. Musically speaking, Fantàsia stands out for being composed in the form of a suite and for having both acoustic and electronic sounds. The challenge was to make two such distant soundworlds coexist and to unite the concept of chamber music with electronic music and improvised jazz music.
What tracks were the most fun?
I think the title track “Fantasia” and “Tree of Life” but also “Blue Glow.”
Top three favorite bassists of all time?
Ray Brown, Charlie Haden and John Patitucci.
Talk about the CAM Jazz label and your own label.
I recorded two trio albums for CAM Jazz in 2017 and 2019. For a while now I have started my own label called Teal Dreamers Factory. Once again, it was a necessity, a need to have full freedom of action and thought.
What do you like about being a leader?
I like being a leader of my own bands. I try to think of them as soccer teams where the coach cooperates with the players for a common goal. I think there are a lot of differences between being a leader and a boss. That’s why I try to give everything to my musicians and make them feel like they are truly a part of what we do together.
Talk about your personnel and what they bring to the vibe?
I am fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful musicians and great people.
On drums is Valerio Vantaggio, who is like a brother to me since we grew up together. He supports me in everything I do and enriches what I write with his great sensitivity. At the piano there is Enrico Zanisi, who is frightening in his ease of execution and thought. Both Valerio and Enrico have a common classical and jazz musical background. On vocals is Alessandra Diodati who is exactly the voice I dreamed of for this music. With her sensitivity and nuance, she manages to make the sounds that I had in my mind. On the cello is Livia De Romanis, who is an extraordinary performer with a beautiful sound and great sensitivity.
How would you describe your music?
A mixture of chamber music and jazz with sound influences of electronic music. Harmonically speaking, I like to delve into contemporary and late-nineteenth-century atmospheres to develop them in my own way in the forms I prefer.
How has your playing changed through the years?
Over the years my style has certainly changed thanks to the encounters I’ve had. I have evolved from a technical, harmonic and rhythmic point of view. But above all, I have grown, and I hope to do so again, from a personal and emotional point of view.
What venues are opening up where you are?
I live in Rome and here I am lucky enough to attend many clubs and high-level musical environments such as the Casa del Jazz, Alexanderplatz, Auditorium Parco della Musica and many others.
Are you planning any tours? What gigs are coming up for you?
Yes I am planning a tour to present the album this year but there is no definite schedule yet.
Advice to beginning bass players that you wish you had?
The best advice I can give is to not feel like a bass player but a musician. Listen to all the other instruments and don’t be influenced by what others think a bass player should be.
For more information visit www.jacopoferrazza.com.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
© 2022 Debbie Burke