With Roots, the young and talented Italian pianist/composer Michele Giuliani leads a new wave of African jazz, achieving an innovative approach to world music.
Giuliani's ensemble magnificently joins different styles and musical cultures together. Africa remains the main source of inspiration, but folk, jazz and blues highlight the group's presence on the beautiful "'Till the End of the World," and on Giuliani's piano solo tribute to Miriam Makeba, "Saduva."
The music of Roots is mainly based on Afro melodies, where international vocal star Gabin Dabiré recalls the mysticism of traditional tribal song.
The project also features an Afro/Cuban ensemble, conducted by percussionist Cesare Pastanella, on "Astatke's Mood," dedicated to Ethiopian musician/arranger Mulatu Astatke, featuring a remarkable flute solo from Valerio Zaccaro, whose sound recalls the beautiful, dark atmosphere of Rahsaan Roland Kirk on Rip, Rig and Panic (Limelight, 1965).
Giuliani and his band have created a vivid and intense album that overcomes the limits of traditional musical boundaries; evocative and refreshingly contrasting some super-polished jazz records.
Track Listing: Ochun; Step by Step; Opening; Roots; 'Till the End of the World; Celebration; Faayzaneh; Saduva; Astatke's Mood; Elegua.
Personnel: Michele Giuliani: acoustic piano; Marcello Piarulli: bass; Cesare Pastanella: congas, percussion; Valerio Zaccaro: flute; Davide Viterbo: cello; Cabildo Blanco: Afro-Cuban folk ensemble, led by Cesare Pastanella; Gabin Dabiré: vocals.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.