Jazzitalia - Interview with Emiliano Loconsolo
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Interview with Emiliano Loconsolo
January 2008
By Eva Simontacchi
Photo: Eva Simontacchi and Emiliano Loconsolo archive

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

But not for me
Something to live for

The National Italian newspaper "Il Tirreno", recently hailed jazz countertenor Emiliano Loconsolo's "Sophisticated, elegant, delicate voice, almost fragile like Chet Baker, fascinating in his melodies and in his velvet swing." Labeled by the critics as "an authentic promise in Jazz Singing," he has collaborated with some of the best jazz artists in Europe including Stefano "Cocco" Cantini, Stefano Bollani, Paolino Dalla Porta, and Massimo Manzi. Emiliano has performed at the famous Capolinea club in Milan, the Lucca Jazz Festival in Tuscany, Break in Jazz in Milan, and the prestigious Umbria Jazz Winter Festival in Orvieto.

A native of Milan, Emiliano Loconsolo is taking a refreshing step away from the commercial market through a diverse and fascinating repertoire that includes American Songbook classics, 16th century Italian villanella's, baroque arias, and contemporary art songs. Mr. Loconsolo is trained in both jazz and classical voice and has cultivated a vocal technique that seamlessly blends tenor and countertenor registers and can approach work across multiple genres and periods. His hybrid sound is increasingly finding its place within new music, while he brings the expressive bel canto tradition into a jazz context.

Emiliano is one of the very few performers in the world today interpreting the poignant work of legendary folk singer Roberto Murolo, the undisputed master of the canzone popolare napoletana, and son of the great 19th century poet Ernesto Murolo. He has featured the Murolo's in recent performances for the City University of New York and at the Providence WaterFire Festival. This season he collaborated with Allesandra Belloni, the world renowned percussionist and expert in Southern Italian music, in "Spider Dance," a theatrical vocal and dance exploration of the Taranatella.

In 2005 he collaborated with avant-garde jazz icon Irene Aebi on rarely heard and never before performed vocal compositions by her husband, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, and was a member of the American premiere of Futurities, a groundbreaking song cycle created by Mr. Lacy and renowned American poet Robert Creeley.

Mr. Loconsolo was a semi-finalist for the Italian National Award Premio Massimo Urbani in 2001, and recently a finalist in the 1st InternationAl Young Jazz Singers Competition in Brussels. In 2005 he was invited to perform at the Bali International Jazz Festival, and was the subject of two radio specials broadcast on Radio Palermo in Buenos Aires and Punto Radio Cascina from Pisa. His performances have been heard on WATD in United States, ABC Radio in Australia, and public radio in Russia.

In Italy, Mr. Loconsolo was the founder of Cantinajazz, a very popular program for years in Tuscany which explored the artistic relationship between jazz and wine through narration and performance. He is a co-founder of Newpoli, a Boston-based Italian folk group.

Mr. Loconsolo emigrated to the United States in 2002 upon receiving Berklee College of Music's international best talent scholarship and subsequently received a BA in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. He currently resides in New York City.

(bio of Emiliano Loconsolo by: Joseph Correia-Eminent Artists.)

I would like you to talk about your newly-issued album "Prelude". Why did you call it "Prelude"?

Because it is a prelude: it literally anticipates something. It is a collection of recordings I made since 2002, when I moved to the US. It is the summary of a past experience and contains the "seeds" of projects I'm currently working on.

So that's why it's a "Prelude"…… because we're going to wait for something else to come.

Yes, exactly. You can call it an "appetizer"!

What are you working on right now? Are you working with a band, a group of musicians? Are you preparing a new project and working on it?

It's a very tricky but stimulating moment for me right now. Tricky because I just relocated to New York City and have to face all the logistic and managerial issues related to my projects. It is a very time consuming task, therefore I'm meditating about getting an agent to help me out. Stimulating because I have the chance to interact with artists from allover the world, their backgrounds and foregrounds. NYC is still a big melting pot in this sense, and I'm getting very curious about multi media performances. Last December I worked on a project lead by percussionist Alessandra Belloni which involved choreographers, dancers, aerial acrobats, stilt dancers and I truly believe that this is the future of today's performing arts. As leader I'm trying to represent a US version of "CantinaJazz", I'm working on "Merica", a song selection about Italian emigrants and the"Tribute to Roberto Murolo". Right now I'm very interested in exploring the Italian-early and folk tradition, which I'm proponing to the audience in a re-arranged setting.

How are you going to re-arrange it?

Well, I discovered a lot of interesting parallels between early music – especially early Renaissance – Renaissance and Baroque music and Jazz. There's a lot of common denominators in terms of improvisation, harmonic complexity and the "instrumental" use of the voice as well. You know…nothing comes from nothing, and this tells us how little we have changed!

This is very interesting.

Well, Maria Pia De Vito already worked on this direction. She did some amazing recordings with Rita Marcotulli of madrigals and Neapolitan folk songs – of course reharmonized – in a modern setting, and I think it was very interesting. Melodies by Monteverdi, Orlando Di Lasso, Andrea Gabrieli, Giovandomenico da Nola sound very contemporary to me. This puts together the passion for Jazz and my Italian roots. Clearly these crossover projects are very appealing among Italian-American Cultural institutions but are very well welcomed by American audience too.

So this Murolo project and the Renaissance-Baroque project will be sung in Italian.

Yes! I rediscovered the joy of singing in Italian, and I think it's a very interesting language.

What is it that you would love to do with your career? Would you mostly like to work in the States or maybe come back to Italy and go on with your career in your home-land?

I like it in the States, it's a very, very different culture, a very different country. It doesn't matter today to be here or there… I mean…I think a musician is a citizen of the World, so it doesn't really matter where you live. What really matters in terms of career is to be open and receptive to different situations, and avoid being just a "local". I don't want to get stuck in New York, I don't want to get stuck in Pisa or Milan. Because my projects embrace different cultures and a sort of sense of "global context", I would like, ultimately, to keep my bridges open to Italy and Europe but, as I mentioned, it's hard to handle all this just by myself. The practical realization of this is beyond my capabilities. Only a subject able to manage a large network will do it. To this purpose, I am contacting agencies able to open those projects to an international setting.

If you had the possibility of choosing a person to duet, who would you choose?

oh Gosh…..probably Patrizia Bovi, Paquito D'rivera, Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, Paul O'Dette and Andreas Scholl, among others. Do I sound too ambitious?

You're a jazz countertenor. Could you explain the readers what a jazz countertenor is?

Well…since my early teens, when I started to sing, I spontaneously used my falsetto register that I eventually learned to blend with my tenor/chest voice. This has always been part of my language and style. Later in the years, with the training, and in particular the classical/early music one, I had learned to expand the high register of the voice and eventually apply it to a different repertoire such as Handel, Bach, Monteverdi, Caccini etc.. Therefore, realizing that my sound was influenced not only by the Jazz masters like Ella, Sinatra, Chet Baker, Miles, but also by Andreas Scholl, Russell Oberlin and others in that field, I tried to convey this concept. You know…I am tired of the clichet of the "croony" male jazz singer or the "classical" countertenor…I'm a little bit of both.

So that's where it comes from: your classical side of your art.

Yes, although when I sing the Jazz Standards, I tend to stay more in the passaggio or the mid-range with some high peaks. I don't sing in the same key Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald were singing, especially when I sing the main melody. What I actually do is switching to falsetto instead of head voice or belting after a certain note. I always try not to sound artificial, but instead let the melody flow by itself.

Would you like to talk about your Roberto Murolo project?

Roberto Murolo, who I think has been the major Neapolitan singer, is not very well-known in the United States; but the funny part is that I got familiar with Roberto Murolo through Steve Lacy. I never got to know Steve Lacy because when I sung with his wife Irene Aebi he had already passed away. I used to hang out at their house a lot and one day just chitchatting to Irene I said "Well, I think he's an interesting singer (Murolo)". And she said: "Well, there's a collection of CDs he recorded and that Steve was passionate about. You can take it!". That CD became my bible, because the CD Irene gave me was "Napoletana", the most complete anthology of the Neapolitan canzone. I was amazed that Steve Lacy in Boston, could open up to me a whole new world I completely neglected before: my Italian roots! So this is how I discovered Roberto Murolo. Few people know that Roberto Murolo was a jazz singer in the past. In the 1940s he toured in Europe with a group called "Mida": it was a vocal group who performed the Mills Brothers repertoire and some American Standards. Eventually, when Ernesto Murolo, his father, passed away, in order to help his mother out financially, he came back to Naples and started to work and develop his Neapolitan repertoire. I found interesting that he was rooted into the jazz repertoire even though he was the son of one of the greatest Neapolitan poets. The project that I'm working on is focused on both Ernesto Murolo, the poet, and his son Roberto. I found a selection of 18 poems by Ernesto Murolo that were lately set to music and that were performed by Roberto Murolo. The Italian Academy in NYC expressed an interest in the project and I hope they'll be able to support it. Together with them I hope this will find the interest of other Italian-American Foundations along with some Neapolitan institutions.

One last question: I know you're also into contemporary music. Can you talk about this further aspect too?

It's been a very slow process, but It's kind of connected to the growing process of each artist. Sooner or later, you reach the point where you just don't distinguish the genres: it's just like one whole thing. I mean, there are things you can do and some other things you don't. So I basically stopped thinking about jazz, early music, contemporary music as sort of isolated boxes. It's a part of one big thing happening: nothing comes from nothing. Everything is linked and that's what many composers today try to convey to their audience: I believe we're really going through a period of synthesis. I mean, if you hear today's composers, you can really hear a lot of jazz, classical, early music, folk and rock influences and I found this very fascinating. I got curious about this process and I started to study pieces by Benjamin Britten, John Cage, Osvaldo Golijov…you know, basically everything that could fit my voice and sensibility. Now I'm looking for new composers interested in writing for my voice, and can incorporate all the influences that characterize my background: in other words an open minded composer. It's something I'm working on, and I think New York City is a very interesting place to be for this purpose; there's a lot of energy, a lot of creativity, a lot of ideas, and people like to challenge themselves. So if you've got a good sense of "smell", you can look around and see what's happening and eventually find some interesting new composers.

So this is one of the projects you would like to work on in the near future….

Yes, definitely.

When will we have the opportunity to listen to your voice live here in Italy? Have you got any programs?

If all could depend on me, there would be several opportunities. Unfortunately, the most relevant issue is to organize concerts in Italy being on the other side of the Ocean. I feel very lucky to collaborate with Joseph Correia, a superb press-agent who is a genius in dealing with newspapers, radio stations and I'm trying to pair him up with a more booking/managing oriented team of people. As I mentioned before, logistics and management are very hard tasks and I prefer to focus on my music studies. This is why the collaboration with such a professional figure is becoming crucial. In the meantime, I will try to work out a small two-week tour in Italy for this coming fall/winter maybe with my friend Garrison Fewell. I have in mind a mixed set of "Prelude" and a "Murolo Tribute" anticipation.

Shiny Stockings (Frank Foster, Ella Fitzgerald)
Live at Podere La Chiesa (Terricciola PI, Italy) on November 9th 2019 with Moraldo Marcheschi (sax), Emiliano Loconsolo (vocals), Riccardo Galardini (...
inserito il 18/11/2019  da Emiliano Loconsolo - visualizzazioni: 2538

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Publishing Date: 10/11/2008

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