The Most Important Thing

In an article titled, "This Boot Was Made for Jazzin'," found in our April 2007 issue, Thomas Conrad tells us that today's most important European jazz musicians are coming from Italy. It was in that article that I was introduced to the young wonders, saxophonist Francesco Cafiso (18), and pianists, Giovanni Guidi (22) and Alessandro Lanzoni (15). These young men live within a musical landscape nurtured by guys like Gianni Basso (75) and Renato Sellani (81), who, according to Conrad, are "sounding better than ever." I'm not quite sure why, but it thrills me to know that such language, art, and life are being shared between people separated by so many years. Perhaps I see it as some evidence that time is only time. And what does that mean to me? Again, I don't know.

But I'm listening now to the Giovanni Guidi Trio's "Joga," and I'm struck by how alive this music sounds, as though the music is being discovered as it is being performed. Listen to it with me. Visit their myspace page, please, and listen to "Joga." It is damn, damn beautiful. Unlike the original, which, while still lovely, is marked in my mind more by Bjork's insistence that "a state of emergency is where I want to be," the Guidi interpretation seems to convey some doubt or ambiguity, a struggle met with determination and perseverance, followed by triumph, and, finally, certainty and peace.

In his article, Thomas Conrad also tells us about the pianist, Stefano Bollani. Describing Bollani's performance at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Orvieto this past New Year's, Conrad writes, "His flowing command of complexity, his impulsive freedom, his breadth of subject matter demonstrated that he is one of the most complete and creative pianists now playing jazz."

This morning's web wanderings led me to a video of Stefano Bollani. The video came before my discovery of "Joga," and is the thing that prompted me to begin this particular entry. In it, Bollani not only discusses his recent release, Piano Solo, but also describes his relationship to music and music-making. What I find so special and attractive about Bollani is his ambition and his enthusiasm. He says:

I do think that jazz music can arrive, can touch, even young people. Why not? It would be great to have young people at the concerts. When I say "young people," I really mean children.


What I'm always trying to do with my music is to have fun.... The most important thing is to be happy about the thing you're doing.