When music is freedom

When music is freedom
The music of freedom, is how Paolo Fresu describes jazz. Paolo, along with his fellow band members, performed to tremendous success at Siri Fort on Monday.

The auditorium was packed with jazz enthusiasts.  ‘Jazz gives you the channel to go everywhere with music,’ says Paolo. His band, Paolo Fresu Quintet, was formed in 1984 near Italy’s Florence and has maintained the same band structure since. While Paolo plays the trumpet and flugelhorn, Tino Tracanna plays the tenor and soprano sax, Roberto Cipelli is on the piano, Attilio Zanchi plays the double bass and Ettore Fioravanti is on drums. The quintet is among the oldest groups in Europe. 

It is interesting to find out how Paolo met his fellow band members. He met Roberto when they were both students of jazz. ‘I met Tino and Attilio on the highway, at a service station. All of us were headed to Venice,’ he says, smiling. Ettore joined them in Rome.

So what keeps them together, especially in a world where bands don’t survive once they achieve success? ‘I think we are very lucky. I share an incredible relationship with the rest. Otherwise it is not possible to stay together for so long,’ he admits.

When you watch them perform on stage, it seems like the members are having a conversation with each other — through their instruments. ‘Interplay is the most important thing in jazz.  It is essential to listen to the rest. Good communication is necessary for good music,’ explains Paolo. At Monday’s concert, their first in India, they played a mix between their old and new songs. ‘There is no set list of songs. I start with a few notes and everyone follows. Every concert is different,’ he adds. 

Apart from playing with the quintet, Paolo plays with several other duos and manages more than 25 projects at the same time. ‘Music changes completely because of the dynamics of groups,’ he says.

And how does he compose music? ‘I write music and then decide which is the best group to play with. Sometimes I get up in the morning, open the piano and feel now I can write. Or music is commissioned,’ he explains.

The group is off to Jakarta next from where they will travel to Bangkok and then back to Europe as part of their World Tour. Interestingly, the band members do no get together to practice regularly.

‘We live in five different parts of Italy,’ he says, laughing.

Paolo doesn’t have much idea about the jazz music scene in India. ‘I have heard about musicians like Zakir husain and Ravi Shankar,’ he says. However, he has done projects with Mumbai-based percussionist Trilok Gurtu.

‘We play sometimes. It is a unique experience,’ he says. Right now though, the focus is on his new album Desertico with Devil Quartet. ‘Music is the language through which you can express your emotions in life,’ says Paolo. We agree.


Lawyer and jazz lover Soli Sorabjee reviews the Paolo Fresu Quintet Jazz Concert for Millennium Post:

It is not everyday that Delhi has the opportunity to listen to wonderful jazz. Each member of the Paolo Fresu Quintet was excellent. The leader Paolo Fresu played both the trumpet and the flugelhorn. His trumpet reminds one of Miles Davis. It is very versatile. Tino Tracanna combined the tenor sax with the flowing solos of the soprano sax. The bass (Attilio Zanchi), drums (Ettore Fioravanti) and the piano (Roberto Cipelli) provided very good accompaniment which contributed to the success of the concert.
Promita Mukherjee

Promita Mukherjee

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