De Gregori and Zalone's "Patiche" is a serious divertissement

De Gregori and Zalone's “Patiche” is a serious divertissement

De Gregori and Zalone is the duo you don't expect: one on the grand piano, playing with the air of a jazz musician, the other on vocals, with his experience. Together they interpret songs from the singer-songwriter's repertoire, from colleagues such as Paolo Conte and unreleased songs that they composed for “Pastiche”, the album that comes out tomorrow. Both seem very amused and happy with the situation: a mini concert for the press and professionals for the presentation of this unexpected joint project. Luca Medici plays on jokes and understatement, even though he has a history as a singer and musician which is part of his acting career. ; De Gregori plays along, in fact he often leads it: at a certain point they improvise “Generale” – which they have never played together and is not on the album – and the singer starts doing the voice of Vasco Rossi…

“I went to harass Checco in his city, I didn't know him. A real stalker…”, De Gregori says, laughing. “From there we made friends, we talked and by hanging out with him I heard how he played the piano. So the idea came to do something together, to use this well-known talent of his, but only up to a certain point.”

The album is a entertainment (“seeing us play you understood why we called it that”, jokes Zalone). But also and above all a serious operation, in the choices and interpretations: “It is an ancient word for a record that has various sources, a contamination between genres, styles and performers. For this reason we thought of qualifying Checco as a pianist and musician”, continues De Gregori. “It's a bit like the operation that Woody Allen did, except that I really know how to play”, echoes Checco Zalone, jokingly. Then, seriously: “I don't know how to read music, I've never done academic studies but I've been playing since I was a child, I worked as a piano bar, I played at weddings, my dad played the organ, I really wanted to be an orchestra player”…

Checco Zalone actually sings as well, in a couple of songs: the new version of his “La prima Repubblica” (which becomes a ballad that quotes “Viva l'Italia”) and the unreleased “Alejandro”, perhaps the only moment of open fun, a song in Italianized Spanish that talks about andropause: “It came to me in the shower.

I'm approaching 50, a little, and therefore I'm moving forward with the problems that he knows very well, linked to advancing age”, jokes Zalone. “But I want to say that in that song I did a job of exegesis of his style, I took the lyrics of his songs and studied them, there are quotes like the one from “Pablo””.
The other unreleased song also talks about the passing of time, but in a decidedly more serious way. “Giusto o misto” is a tribute to “My way”: “A song that is in everyone's head”, explains De Gregori. “For a certain period I even tried to translate it but then I gave up: that melody in Italian was not singable, especially taking into account Frank Sinatra's interpretation and also that of Elvis Presley. So in the end I rewrote it.”

“Pastiche”, they explain, is a tribute to Italian music: “At the beginning we thought we would only make my own songs then we felt like we were impoverishing this a bit pastiche”, continues De Gregori. “So we came up with songs by other writers. For example, the piece by Pino Daniele that we recorded was suggested by Checco, others by me. We are two serious people in the end even if he doesn't seem so because in the films he puts on beautiful masks.”

“The songs are an incursion into the Italian panorama of songs. Real songs, not his…” jokes De Gregori pointing to his colleague. “My problem is that in this situation they will think: 'Okay, come on, you're playing, no , but tell her a joke”, says Zalone. “This album is a prank…He is one of the few friends I have in the entertainment world: between a carbonara and a cacio e pepe at his house, every now and then I played his Steinway, which it never sounded as good as when I got my hands on it… And he started cajoling me.”
“But since I've been making records for 50 years, I transformed the mischief into a recording project,” echoes De Gregori.

The album is produced by Guido Guglielminetti, historical collaborator of the singer-songwriter, with his band (Gabriele Evangelista on double bass, Bernardo Guerra on drums, with Francesca La Colla on backing vocals, Ezio De Rosa on trombone, Massimiliano Filosi on tenor and baritone sax and Sergio Vitale on trumpet).

The two will present it with two unique concerts on 5 and 9 June at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome: if the album is a serious operation and deliberately without room for gags, live it will be something else. Just think of today's presentation, full of jokes and back-and-forths between the two, which ends with Checco Zalone forcing De Gregori to sing his “Gli men sexual”: “It will be a show that we are still building, there will be band on many pieces, but it will not be a traditional musical concert. Improvisation will be our guide. But there won't be a tour: we like hit and run, on a project like this it makes no sense.”