Passions & Places

Stefano Nunzi

A friendly interview to Stefano Nunzi...

  […] We already have musicians, said the man from the group. I know I said and I started playing. He stared at me, he didn’t say a word. He waited until I finished. And then asked:  :
“What was it?” 
“I do not know”
His eyes glimmered.
“When you do not know what it is, then it is jazz”

“…Well, actually even jazz has its rules” Stefano says as soon as I finish reading Alessandro Baricco monologue, Novecento. “People think it is the less constrained music ever because it heartened ad-lib, but also jazz has its own rules…”

I am talking with Stefano Nunzi in front of a glass of Verdicchio wine and some grapefruit juice for me just at the time when 180°gradi  gets ready for the aperitif. Our interview is much focused on yesterday concert held here, in occasion of the “Guess who is playing for dinner” closing night. It was one of the appointments where gastronomy meets music in the fascinating atmosphere created by swing. His double bass and the rhythms of his brother’s (Andrea Nunzi) drums, created the perfect music background for the leader of the trio: Silvia Manco, a piano player and singer. The repertoire ranged from original compositions by the leader of the group close to the Brazilian music, to the great American Jazz Tradition. 

They are Roman by adoption, as Silvia is. They were born in Fermo and then moved because they wanted to satisfy their growing passion for jazz, in a more stimulating environment. The first to go was Andrea in 1999, his brother followed the year after. Their determination has been repaid even if the decision as Andrea tells me today was slightly rash” because “I didn’t know what to expect in that environment, I had experienced music only here”. In Rome they have found the right dimension where their talent was acknowledged and gratified. They are now on the jazz set thanks to several collaborations and projects (they have been member of the orchestra in the musical dedicated to Billie Holiday, starring Ami Stewart). They also perform in other settings such as events and theatres.

They have both had their first approach with music when they were young, in front of a piano keyboard. Andrea soon discovered his interest for drums and started to study it as an autodidact. He went through rock before getting to jazz. He loved Elvin Jones sonority and John Coltrane, the famous quartet drummer in 1960-1965. 

Stefano was also attracted by rock and he started to learn how to play guitar. I even wanted to play heavy metal”  he recalls smiling. He doesn’t repudiate his first favourite music genre that still likes listening to: “I have been a great fan of Iron Maden, ACDC and Jimi Hendrix. If you play a good Led Zeppelin Cd, I do appreciate it...”.

They have enriched their collection with lot of jazz CDs from the most famous jazz masters ever: Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon…They pay a lot of attention to the ever developing jazz language around them. “I like soul, rhythm'n'blues… I love James Brown e i Blues Brothers” Stefano says. His classic education has left its marks though. Among his favourite musicians there are Beethoven, Mozart and Bach (“l can feel how close they are to jazz sonority).

He has cultivated his passion for jazz since he was studying double-bass at the G.Rossini Music School in Fermo (he graduated in 1998 with M°Alfredo Trebbi). “The energy of this music makes me enthusiastic. It is not always a sounding smack, apart in the Big Band, it is an energy that is there, it stays still, it grows, this is the magic of the swing, the melody of blues....”.

He and Andrea fell immediately in love with jazz thanks to some CDs their friend Eric Cisbani,  a percussionist. Stefano was also enchanted by a cassette his jazz guitar teacher had recorded for him when he was just 15-16. They were Joe Pass performances, a guitarist with Italian origins “I felt something different from what I was used to” he says “and it definitly appealed to me. I was flabbergusted at the thought that a person playing solo could manage to produce such music. It has been a sparkle. From that moment on I have been all for jazz, as a guitarist first and as a double-bass player later...”

  He kept on listening to that kind of music and then decided that he would have devoted all the studying necessary to explore the deepness of the language that: “it is not in the Italian cultural background, while the Americans were born with it, they have it in their DNA. I dare say though that we have a good feeling with swing, soft and fluid”. 

To better understand this culture some years ago he went to New York and he is willing to go back soon.
“That has been fantastic. The journey has been a pilgrimage in the places were jazz was born and where it still flourishes. The musicians I met became my role models. They were there, in the atmosphere where jazz is still developing. This is why I love that world, it is a never ending research.

Alessandra Alessiani
for Paradise Possible  

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