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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 03 June 2023 08:53

Ten Questions for Diana Torti and Sabino de Bari

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Singer and improviser Diana Torti and guitarist Sabino de Bari have been creating music together since 2006. As composers, they have previously released albums as individuals and together and most recently their stunning duo album On A Cloud. It was a great pleasure to ask them about their brand new album It’s All We Have.

1. Your new album It’s All We Have is described as ‘a reflection on the beauty of the world and humanity in contraposition to the power which is exercised in multiple forms on people through extremism, economy and politics leading to denial of rights and environmental threats’. I realise this a big question, but how did you arrive at the point of wanting to create an album around this theme? 

Diana: We don’t want to be disconnected from the reality of the world we live in, and we want to give our small contribution with our music to reflect on the problems that humanity faces. We are bombarded by bad news every day and live in a world of abstract economy. 

Sabino: While we were working on this album, we ended up reflecting on the concept of power exercised by few people on the majority which embraces, under the same common denominator, many of the problems in our society such as extremism, economy, denial of rights etc…

 

2. And can you explain how this theme is embedded in the music?

Diana: There are many layers in which this theme is embedded in the music. In this project, we prioritised recalling elements, images and styles of music representing the culture or the concept we were talking about in the composition. For instance, Cubralibre has Cuban music elements and the text we put on the music was from the American general John Hay (yes, a general!) talking about the Hispanic War. 

Sabino: In other cases, the music would express the mood of some songs, like In Spite Of Everything’s positivity. In others, the pressure of dealing with great poems by poetesses like Emily Dickinson pushed us to compose music with a more classical contemporary approach where even more nuances could be achieved. Then, the interpretation and the spark of the performing moment made the rest!

 

3. You have included poems by Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti in the album. How did you first discover these women and how did they inspire you to include their work?

Sabino: We have been loving Dickenson’s poems for a while now. Many of the themes in her poems, the images and sounds she creates resonate with us. Furthermore, we wanted to give space to women poetesses. So, it was an obvious choice. We were even considering dedicating the whole work to her. But then the themes and concepts we started to approach to were expanding and we needed more variety in the album to express all of them with coherence. 

Diana: We came across Christina Rossetti a while ago as well and we have been loving some of her works since then. Again, some of the themes represented in their poems, such as the force and magnificence of nature or the positivity expressed through a metaphor of a beautiful never-ending bird’ singing (Hope) inspired us very much!

 

4. You have both worked together before and as this is an album for guitar and voice, I imagine you already have great chemistry and work well together. How did the writing process work?

Sabino: Yes, the music we do together is impossible to replicate playing with other musicians. Our chemistry is made of shared musical values, cultural background, and love for the freedom of musical expression but most of all, the alchemy we reach together. We believe we can preserve our musical individuality when we play together and yet achieve a whole where we both contribute equally to the creation. 

Diana: Sabino’s approach to composing for the duo is always driven by our expressive and technical potential…

Sabino: ... and by Diana’s incredible voice flexibility and talent in interpreting.

 

5. Your music is influenced by ‘Mediterranean culture and sounds’. How would you define those influences/sounds musically?

Diana: It is part of our background. We feel very connected with the Mediterranean sounds. 

Sabino: Besides, Western's music also originates from Middle-east sounds due to Jews and Byzantine musical elements and the Arabic invasions in medieval times. 

Diana: Perhaps, as Italians, we feel more exposed to these influences than north European countries. 

Sabino: But on the other hand, we have been also working on projects that aim to explore the Mediterranean culture and music backgrounds based on research. Just recently we released the album “Lo Racconta il Mare” which is based on the Molfetta dialect and traditional music, Sabino’s native town. 

Diana: However, it is difficult to define and label those sounds, such as those happening in Melodia where Mediterranean sounds merge with harsh sounds that aim to tell women's stories such as those in Afghanistan.

 

Photograph: Monika Jakubowska

 

6. There are lyrics on the album from you both. Sabino, can you tell us what is the inspiration behind The Extra Something?

Sabino: The Extra Something is a piece that reflects on multinational corporations, or big companies in general, that have the power, through marketing and media, to drive people into buying and consuming specific products even by boasting unlikely qualities. The text is made of a puzzle of slogans and adverts from the end of the 19th Century till the sixties of the last Century. I put them together creating a text which merges with music made of glissandos, shaping melodies that subtly break in people's heads, just like advertisements.

 

7. You are both Italian but live in London and you recorded the album in Italy, mixed and mastered by you Sabino. Was it important for you to record this in Italy?

Diana: We have been recording four albums in the UK before. It was great, we met good expertise and nice people.  For It’s All We Have we just wanted to reconnect with some friends and engineers with whom we have been collaborating for a while and recreating a synergetic environment for the recording process. Besides, we wanted to record in a sea place far from the hectic life of London. We really enjoyed the sea breeze and atmosphere in the evening after relaxed and lovely recording sessions! 

Sabino: In regard to the mix and mastering, In the studio, I have always been very active in asking for specific sound qualities, balances and colours. Over time I realised that my ideas were most of the time welcomed by the engineers I was working with. So, recently, I am challenging myself to work on the post-production stage. It is an exciting new adventure for a traditionally trained musician like me!

 

8. Can you talk us through the recording – how long did it take?

Diana: It did take not too long. Three sessions of three hours. Our approach to recording is to recreate a live performance experience for the listener. We were very excited and prepared, so, many tracks were good at the first take! By experience, we know (at least it works for us) that even when playing many takes for one track, most of the time we end to choose the first take anyway. That’s usually the one that has the spark, especially when improvisation is involved. Usually but not always, of course.  Other pieces took longer with some attempts and one song was the first we started recording with and we only managed to perform it like we wanted at the very end of the last session!

 

9. Although the album explores some serious concerns and issues, it has an underlying sense of positivity. What do you hope people will take away from the album – how do you hope they will feel?

Diana: The underlying sense of positivity is the approach we usually try to have to everyday life. As we said previously, we are constantly surrounded by bad news and challenging situations that are difficult to bear and face. It’s important not to lose the sense of reality. However, we also think that there is always room for change and positivity, in spite of everything. Hope is not just a word that is fair to use. It means the little and concrete things we might and should do in our daily life to build a better environment for us and the community.  

Sabino: We also believe that hope becomes more concrete when there is awareness. Being aware means being able of understanding better what happens around us and consequently creating the premises for a better future.

As musicians, we believe that arts stand for enriching people and giving them new perspectives and reflections. We hope that our audience will feel inspired to find the beauty around us.

 

10. What are you next plans – can we see you perform live soon?

Diana: We can’t wait to start touring the project! We are very excited to have the album launch in July in London (those interested will find more info very soon on our websites) as well as a tour in Italy in autumn.

Sabino: Yes, we look forward to performing and sharing our music live!  But we are also already working on our individual new projects and the next work together! Thank you for the interesting questions and the opportunity to talk about “It’s All We Have”!

 

To purchase It’s All We Have click here

Read 1767 times Last modified on Saturday, 03 June 2023 09:13

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