Auand: A Matter of Trust
While Cuong Vu is almost romantic in the dramatic conception of his music, the compositions of guitarist Roberto Cecchetto are more joyful in their post-modern sophisticated eclecticism. Downtown is an album that brings together a myriad of influences from jazz guitar tradition. The album starts with the effortless swinging "Where Are You," recalling Tal Farlow but soon changes on a plate with the brief abstract impressionism of "Uptown" that showcases the immense talent of drummer Michele Rabbia, who is master in creating moods with the fewest means possible. Taking another u-turn is the acoustic funk of "Do It" and "Oslo Hotel" is an epic achievement with modulated sounds and bassist Giovanni Maier spinning a soulful pattern on the bass. The shadow of Derek Bailey looms large over "Downtown" with the players shunning a traditional conception of melody and rhythm in favor of the pure sound of their instruments. Perhaps, the most impressive thing about Cecchetto isn't his encyclopaedic knowledge of his instrument, but rather the way he succeeds, in spite of all the diversity, to bring a feeling of unity to his work. Downtown isn't just the rehash of yesterday's and today's music but rather a personal expression of the sounds of tomorrow. The album is like a living city speaking with different voices but in the same language, adding new words to the musical vocabulary of jazz.
Like Roberto Cecchetto, Quilibri is hard to place within a hard and fast genre. The group features an unusual line-up with two percussionists, a mostly acoustic guitarist, a bassist and a soprano saxophonist. To quote Ezra Pound, Eco Fato's gentle lyricism is like "Petals on a wet, black bough." Moisture and the idea of the chaotic yet organic structure of nature find its way into the music. As it says in the notes to the album: "This music has been recorded in Gianavella, in Val Pellice, during the days of the flood (a time when even snails were trying to save their own lives), altogether in a great big room, fully permeable to both a humid cold and to sound a time of rain, a time of twittering which peeps out between one piece and the other." The music has an air of intimacy where the soft strum of an acoustic guitar mixes with refined patterns of handheld percussion and the breathing soprano saxophone of Andrea Ayassot, who is the sole composer behind all the tracks. However, Eco Fato, is a group effort managing to convey the melodic, organic sounds of wood, water and steel in a music that draws on Eastern as well as Western influences.
Musically, Auand is all over the map. What the label's rooster share is producer Marco Valente's intuitive sense of what works aesthetically and pushes the boundaries of how music is experienced, aurally as well as visually. Therefore, many of Auand's releases features multimedia tracks as a way of providing something extra for the buyer of the records. Speaking of the new digital revolution in the music business, Valente is a bit more reluctant: "What is clear is that recording a session can be easier now... the market is wider but this can be better (wider audience? Easier to reach new listeners? Easy to buy using the net...) or worse (too many things to listen to, too much free music available, too much information with no filter), it depends on your point of view... my point of view is right in the middle. I was the first one in Italy to design a jazz related website in 1997 and the first one to design a jazz related webshop in 1999, so I've used the net for 12 years."
Still, Auand has not yet taken the final step towards making records available as downloads, which has much to do with the aesthetic of the label. As Valente says: "I really think of the record as the sum of the music and the visual/object, I can't think of the music alone... So for now, Auand is not available as digital downloads." However, Valente will not deny the possibility of digital distribution in the future, but what matters most to him is not the commercial aspect of the business, but the music itself and the relation between the listener and the record, a relation that is defined by trust: "Wider audience is something I never really think of...the market is what everybody knows... I print 1,000 copies of each record and only few times I needed to reprint. Of course, I'm happy to reprint a record but it's not my main goal. Documenting something special to my ears is the goal. My role is just listening to music and decide (following my own personal parameters, absolutely subjective) if something is special deserving documentation, be pressed and left to the future. Of course this means that people has to trust Auand. My job is essentially to gain people's trust."
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Broken Head; X-Ray; G8; Femtosecond; Crunch; Reflex; Double Fin; Ra; Improvisi-zation; Grandes Amigos; Araucanos.