© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
From time-to-time, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles likes to turn its attention to vocal Jazz, especially when something new and different catches it’s ear.
Such was the case recently when Marilena Paradisi, a vocal Jazz artist based in Italy reached out with a request to send me her latest recording.
Some Place Called “Where” is the eighth album by the well known italian vocalist Marilena Paradisi and she brings to the music on it a growing lyrical awareness and a very special partnership with the American piano master Kirk Lightsey.
Released by Norwegian label Losen Records [LOS-187-2], Some Place Called “Where” is not a solo vocal album with a guest accompanist.
Rather, it is a duo recording that features Marilena’s voice and Kirk’s piano as they interplay around the music contained in the eight tracks that make up the recording.
Marilena says: “I've been very lucky to see Kirk playing live and every time his pianism struck me: he has style, energy and dynamism. He is a multi-instrumentalist, he plays flute and cello too. He has an unique style, a marvellous touch (he makes the piano singing!) and an unusual harmonic choice, inspired by the classical music he loves. Kirk himself doesn't like being considered as a "jazz musician", he doesn't like the way this word has been used nowaday. Kirk loves to say that music is magic, otherwise it is not music! Kirk keeps on searching for magic when he plays and he encourages you to find it, thanks his skill to play few notes for a magic mood.”
Kirk Lightsey says: “It's a really special project for me because to play in duo and this choice of repertoire makes me find orchestral sound of the piano, which is very important to me. Finding in that music the sound of suspense, mystery, sense of infinite space, affection and emotions is important for my feelings in music. Marilena has a very special voice and a lot of talent, I could say technically for her particular timbre, for intonation, flexibility, musicality, she is expressive and has great timing, but in one word she is very artistic and with this I mean that when she sings she is able to sing her feelings deeply and that's why she's expressive, and perfect for this repertoire.”
The title Some Place Called “Where” comes from a tune written by Wayne Shorter and the background of the tunes that make up the CD and how they were approached by Marilena and Kirk are discussed in the following insert notes by David Fishel which are presented in English followed by an Italian version.
Some Place Called “Where” features eight tracks, a sort of "niche repertoire" with a direct and touching expressiveness of Marilena and Kirk, who travel for forty minutes in their world: improvisation, studies in India and voice as an instrument for Paradisi, glorious and beautiful work with Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Pharoah Sanders and Lester Bowie, and love for classical music too, for Lightsey.
This perfect coupling, this musical marriage with its velvety vocals and its pianistic perfection, is a rare delicacy. It is an album filled with melodious and harmonious manoeuvre, implemented with skill and with grace.
Marilena Paradisi conveys raw emotion through her impressive vocal range; she scats, she soars, her voice as much an instrument as Kirk Lightsey’s all-encompassing piano. The overall sound is so much fuller than you might expect from a duo, with Kirk’s progressive harmonic range and quality of touch often presenting an orchestral-sounding accompaniment. But it is the intimacy of the interplay that most impresses. You feel that they are playing – for you!
Italian-born Marilena has been active on the international jazz scene since 1994, with an abundance of recording, concert and master class credits – at the very highest level. American-born Kirk is the consummate maestro. His credit list is of the finest pedigree and includes five albums with Chet Baker – oh, and he also happened to tour with Dexter Gordon from 1979-1983.
The album’s title track is a beautiful rendition of Wayne Shorter’s winding and multifaceted Some Place Called “Where.” A complex tune delivered with clarity and composure.
All the selections in this stress-free zone are lovingly crafted. Tunes such as Portrait (Charles Mingus) and Little Waltz (Ron Carter) and Brazilian songwriter Dori Caymmi’s Like A Lover exemplify music that has been carefully chosen for depth and for sincerity. The final track Fresh Air is a self-descriptive Lightsey/Paradisi original. Kirk also treats us to a charming and lyrical flute solo. It’s the perfect conclusion to a perfect album.”
- David Fishel
“Questo accoppiamento perfetto, questo matrimonio musicale con i suoi velluti e la sua perfezione pianistica, è una delizia rara. È un album pieno di manovre melodiche e armoniche realizzate con abilità e grazia.
Marilena Paradisi trasmette emozioni immediate attraverso la sua impressionante gamma vocale; Lei fa scat, lei svetta, la sua voce è uno strumento tanto quanto l'avvolgente pianoforte di Kirk Lightsey. Il suono complessivo è molto più pieno di quanto si possa aspettare da un duo, con la progressiva gamma armonica di Kirk e la qualità del tocco, quasi da accompagnamento orchestrale. Ma è l'intimità dell'interazione tra i due che più colpisce. Senti che stanno suonando - per te!
Marilena è attiva nella scena internazionale del jazz dal 1994, con un'abbondanza di registrazioni, concerti e studi al massimo livello. Kirk, americano, è il maestro perfetto. Il suo pedigree è dei migliori, tanto da comprendere cinque album con Chet Baker e un tour con Dexter Gordon dal 1979 al 1983.
La title-track è una splendida interpretazione dell'arioso e sfaccettato brano di Wayne Shorter. Una melodia complessa consegnata con chiarezza e compostezza. Tutti i pezzi scelti ed eseguiti in questa dimensione rilassata e intima sono rifiniti amorevolmente. Portrait (Charles Mingus), Little Waltz (Ron Carter) e Like A Lover (Dori Caymmi) sono un buon esempio di questa musica scelta per profondità e sincerità. Fresh Air è un brano di Kirk che rappresenta bene il dialogo tra i due, Kirk ci regala anche un solo di flauto incantevole e lirico. La perfetta conclusione di un album perfetto.”
The following Soundcloud audio-only file presents Marilena and Kirk on Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes.