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Claudio Filippini: Facing North

Robin Arends By

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AAJ: Your first trio- album, The Enchanted Garden (CAM Jazz, 2011) with bassist Luca Bulgarelli and drummer Marcello Di Leonardo appeared in 2011. This alternately, challenging album was well received by, amongst others, your colleague Enrico Pieranunzi, who wrote in his liner notes: "Musical stories full of imagination and depth; Claudio's improvisations reveal to us a language of beauty, generating music of such density and intensity...Bravo!" What does the music of Enrico Pieranunzi mean to you?

CF: I discovered Enrico Pieranunzi when I did a workshop with him in 1999. I was eager and I wanted to learn as much as I could from anyone. Pieranunzi insisted on the fact that I should play more by ear. He's a wise and brilliant man, he has a deep culture in every field and you can listen to his stories full of experiences for hours. He can play in a lot of styles and when I was with him I tried to steal his phrases as much as I could. Enrico Pieranunzi is one of the best realities we have in Italy and I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to study with him.

AAJ: This year your second trio-album, Facing North (CAM Jazz) appeared. How did you experience working with Palle Danielsson? How did you meet the gifted drummer Olavi Louhivuori ?

CF: The collaboration with the two Scandinavian musicians was born in a certain sense by the courage and foresight of the artistic producer Ermanno Basso from Cam Jazz label, whom I proposed to record a CD with a foreign rhythm section. Among the several names that came to our mind we thought that Danielsson and Louhivuori may could work together. I knew them both for their musical collaborations, but I also knew that they had never played together. Both me and Ermanno were tremendously curious which sound would come out. So after checking our schedules we found some days available for everyone and we went to Ludwigsburg, Germany in the fabulous Bauer Studios. The CD is the result of our first meeting, playing together for the first time.

AAJ: With drummer Lorenzo Tucci you recorded this year the live-album Tranety (Albore Jazz, 2013), dedicated to the work of John Coltrane. What role has John Coltrane played in your musical development?

CF: Both me and Lorenzo are really in love with Coltrane's music, and we decided together to make a tribute to him without saxophone. John Coltrane was a true innovator, his style changed a lot of times during his short career. I really have an admiration for his approach and for his music that sometimes is very complex and very challenging to play.

AAJ: Do you prefer playing challenging music to more simple, groove-based music?

CF: When I have the chance to play difficult music, I like to play it in a very simple way. When the chord changes are difficult and there are not so many connections between them, I like to make very simple melodic lines in order to make the chord changes understandable for the other musicians and for the audience. I really don't like to play difficult stuff in a difficult way, trying to do what I can't do. In this way I feel breathless and tense. On the contrary if I'm playing for example a very fast piece with very difficult changes, the first thing I do is to relax, and play one note at a time, listen to each other and try to do simple things in a good way rather than difficult stuff in a bad way.

AAJ: Do you regard yourself as part of a common jazz tradition? Your music prooves jazz is still alive and growing. How do you think jazz music will develop?

CF: Jazz music is constantly changing, it always has been changing. It is a music that comes from contamination, and it is a blend of different cultures. I think nowadays a lot of people find in jazz a way to communicate. We live in 2014, the world is getting smaller and smaller and thanks to Internet we can discover music from each country of the world.

I could not set a list of people who have contributed in recent years to the growth of our musical heritage, I can only say that fortunately there is so much excitement and so much material to draw from. Despite the hard times for the musical industry, it's a solace that we have thousands of great jazz players in the world that don't care about the commercial part. All they want to do is to play what they feel inside.

AAJ: What projects do you have in store for us?

CF: I'm working on the second CD with Palle Danielsson and Olavi Louhivuori that should be out soon. This CD is called Breathing in Unison" and will be released by Cam Jazz Label. It contains both original compositions of mine and standards. I'm also composing music for a new trio with musicians from Chicago with which it will record a new CD and I will be on tour next April.

AAJ: Are you excited about this project?

CF: I'm really excited about this new project, I hope it will be a new point of departure for a new musical journey and I hope it will last over time.

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