Singer/composer Maddalena Ghezzi has released the third in her Minerals series, where she collaborates with a different musician for each recording. So how about not one but two composers together for an exceptionally well-conceived EP? Ghezzi is a London -based singer originally from Milan. She is a composer, improviser, and educator who is passionate and curious to explore the use of her voice in different ways and in different spaces. She has worked in the field of jazz, improvised and experimental music since moving to the UK in 2009, drawing inspiration from the natural world, literature, visual arts, and our world's socio-political status. As well as Minerals, she has released an album, Eŭropo: sen limoj (Europe With No Borders), with her band FUWAH. Ghezzi was featured in the Women Of Music Business online platform, and The Islington Gazette has covered her work with her trio Stanza Da Tre. She has collaborated with many other innovative performers and performed at the Milan Jazz festival and the Southbank Centre, and her music has been featured by BBC3, Radio Popolare, and Soho Radio. Ghezzi studied jazz singing with Brigitte Beraha and is currently deepening her research in singing, Libero Canto, improv, and composition with Sara Serpa.
Minerals is a series of four recordings, of which Opal is the third, following EPs Amethyst and Halite. In Minerals, Ghezzi explores vocal, compositional, and scoring possibilities while dissecting the act of collaboration. She wants to take snapshots of her artistic collaborations and build, through the years, a compilation of varied and versatile exchanges.
Each work in the Minerals series is recorded in different spaces, decided by each collaborator, to capture a diverse range of room sounds and are released at random intervals whenever the ground is suitable for new ideas to sprout. Halite is a collaboration with pianist and composer Ed Blunt and based on a love for songs and storytelling with pieces including Tenderly, Estate, and Sunny Side of the Street. Amethyst is a collaboration with double bassist Thodoris Ziarkas, and it is rooted in improvisation with three pieces inspired by the natural world and realisations we had while walking in various natural environments.
Out on DengYue Records, Opal is a collaboration with guitarist Francesca Naibo. Naibo is a guitarist who explores the innovative side of music creation in improvised music, classical and contemporary compositions. The idea came about because both musicians wanted to compose for the other's instruments, experiment sonically and explore the use of language and voice. Opal was recorded at a sonic exploration laboratory in Niton, Italy. The EP is of four tracks, Meadow and Confluence, respectively composed by Ghezzi and Naibo, were written for guitar and two voices and are inspired by feelings of belonging and enriching solitary moments. Two improvisations complete the EP: Abyss, an immersion in the depths of sound, and Instabile, the only track with lyrics, recorded using a head with a binaural stereo microphone handmade by musician and sound engineer Enrico Mangione. Opal, inspired by the qualities attributed to the mineral of the same name, is a sonic journey in search of internal clarity.
Abyss is atmospheric, ethereal, and features vocals that range from repeated vowel-like intonations and surreal cries which seem to arise from and return to the depths, emotive and gently calming. The subtle undercurrents which permeate the track are those of listening, remaining in harmony, and absolute engagement of the musicians with each other and somehow also the listener.
Meadow opens with a five-note motif, the fifth note of which is joined in unison by the vocals, twinned and doubled, to create chordal effects. After the first minute, the guitar weaves magical, eastern-sounding lines across which singular notes roll and work a steely spell. The voice then takes on the melody, with supportive underpinning from the guitar before the piece returns to the five-note motif again but with modulations and variations. A structure that works around the theme's scaffold and creates a unique and very engaging sonic narrative.
Instabile opens with the voice in whispers, snippets, and shouts, creating rhythms and working towards the formation of the word instabile, the wonder created by the exploration of gaps, tempo, and silencio! You sense a questioning and almost feel a desire to respond aloud when listening to this. Impressive and evocative.
Confluence is a beautiful melange of soft guitar overlays against melodic vocals in the simplest of combinations at times while also including interludes where the harmonics are perfectly displaced to create almost deliberately disharmonic echoes of a chord. Both musicians are explorative and respectful of the other, creating a sense for the listener of them listening also to each other and understanding the effect their combination has. The melodies are alluring, the atmosphere is intoxicating, and the overall effect is mesmerizing.
An interesting, intriguing, and slightly out-of-the-ordinary album - but then, who wants ordinary when you can have the extraordinary!
Personel:Maddalena Ghezzi - vocals; Francesca Naibo - Guitar