The Sanremo songs remain in the memory in their original form, in the version that the performance at the Festival has handed down to us over time. Is it ever possible to give a new life, a new dress to these songs? To imagine them in a different sonic and stylistic world, other than the pop they come from? Listening to the album “Sanremo is…” (out February 2nd on the PDU label) the answer is: yes, it can be done!
Take a bassist/double bass player of jazz origin who has around forty records under his belt with Mina alone (then many others with many artists including Antonella Ruggiero), take a young jazz singer, add a string quartet and a group of great jazz musicians and feed her the repertoire of the Sanremo Festival. What will be returned to us is a convincing result, of great freshness and interpretative freedom.
This they did Massimo Moriconi and Emilia Zamuneran artistic couple who for some years have been performing as a bass/double bass and voice duo, who for the occasion reinterpret in a jazz style eight songs that have participated in the Sanremo Festival over time, songs such as: “Thank you for the flowers” (Nilla Pizzi, winner of the 1951 edition), “The clarinet” (Renzo Arbore, 1986), “Light (Sunsets in the north east)” (Elisa, winner in 2001), “Money” (Mahmood, winner in 2019), “No one can judge me” (Caterina Caselli, 1966), “Today it’s me” (Alex Britti, winner of the 1999 Youth edition), “Rains” (Domenico Modugno, winner 1959) and “The paranza” (Daniele Silvestri, 2007).
We spoke with Massimo Moriconi of this “Sanremo è…” and of the project with Emilia Zamuner.
Where did the idea of “Sanremo è…” come from?
Among the things Emilia did there was a work with a string quartet whose arrangement particularly struck me and which I would have liked to bring into our world, that of the duo. Since we are Italian, the first thing I thought of was Sanremo and so we chose these eight songs that were different from each other, even over time. Beautiful things don’t age, they become historicized.
And why these eight?
There is no main reason. We had made a list of 50 songs and then collaborated with the arranger Vittorio Pasquale we went by exclusion until we arrived at this lineup. They are pieces that take you, that give you a hand. In any case, in every choice, we have always “respected” the piece, preserving its essential characteristics. However, we could make a total of 10 volumes, there would certainly be no shortage of material. We’d also like to do Oscar-winning soundtracks, but those are often instrumental.
How did you work on the arrangements?
Vittorio Pasquale created the supporting structure, then each of us, including the guests, put their own spin on it, with the idea of not being stopped by those barbed wires that jazz musicians sometimes put between themselves and other musical worlds. It all started with playing, even with that sense of improvisation that comes from jazz and we are happy with what came out. It’s not just jazz, but a contamination between song and jazz, which is a music that always evolves. We could define the result as a mix of pop, jazz and song.
There is a sense of fun in these versions. Is that so?
Yes. Fun is the most serious thing in the world and being a musician is a privilege because every time you feel like a child again; It’s a job that’s also a game. Emilia and I have fun and because of this beautiful things come out. Personally, I’m happy if when I play I see people having fun, which doesn’t mean they’re laughing, but you understand, you perceive that they’re fine, that they feel serene. In these cases I can say that I have achieved a goal. I also think that simplicity is an objective, not a lack of content but a way to make everything reach everyone. Pop is an ugly beast: it’s easy to reproduce but difficult to invent. In this Sting and McCartney are brilliant because they found immediate and essential solutions in simplicity, but you have to know how to find them. Pop is thinking simple, it is having the ability to have a wedding dinner with few elements. The problem is not just technical, sometimes it is more difficult to do simple things by tackling them correctly, without too much arrogance.
It seems to me that in these versions the text takes on great clarity and tends to have greater prominence.
Exactly. This is due to the way in which Emilia sings from a technical point of view and her great interpretative ability. I find that this thing is felt strongly in “La paranza” which turns out to be a beautiful lyric, like the whole song.
Do you watch Sanremo? What do you think of the latest editions of the festival?
I watch it and have always done it, perhaps in the company of some colleagues, and I like doing it. It moved to shares with millions of views, overwhelmed by the needs of radio and now other systems. There are some nice things, but as soon as the autotune kicks in I feel bad. To sing and play you need to study and apply yourself, you don’t have to be in tune thanks to an instrument. Technology is fine, very good, but it goes too far when it allows everything and also allows you to be something else.
How did the project with Emilia Zamuner come about?
For 15 years I have been on the jury and in the rhythm section of the event dedicated to Massimo Urbani (jazz saxophonist who died in 1993). The most important Italian jazz musicians and promises have passed through this event over time. Never a singer, until Emilia arrived, he had won the prize. Emilia sang a ballad and won hands down. From there the need to play together was born and 8 years ago this collaboration began in a formula that works, even if it is not easy.
What repertoire do you do?
Very varied: “Da Vengo anch’io” to “Summertime”, from Caruso to the Quartetto Cetra and even some original songs. Emilia on the other hand can do everything, with her sudden voice, sometimes she sounds like a trumpet and every time live she always makes the songs different.
Your “competitors” are Musica Nuda by Spinetti and Magoni!
They are friends and I respect them a lot, we are similar, but we do something different and they have been doing it for longer. I also use the electric bass, Ferruccio only the double bass and Petra sings differently from Emilia.
“Sanremo is…” Credits:
Emilia Zamuner: voice
Massimo Moriconi: double bass, electric bass
Arrangements: Vittorio Pasquale
Arches: Sea Quartet
Riccardo Zamuner: first violin
Alberto Marano: second violin
Vincenzo Meriani: Viola
Raffaele Rigliari: cello
Danilo Rea: piano in “Luce”
Gabriele Mirabassi: Clarinet in “The Clarinet”
Stefano di Battista: saxophone in “Thank you for the flowers”
Ellade Bandini: drums in “La paranza”
Daniele Sepe: saxophone in “Money”
Renzo Ruggieri: accordion in “Piove”
Vittorio Pasquale: guitar in “Oggi sono io”
Massimo Moriconi: electric bass in “No one can judge me”