Paolo Fresu, a Sardinian genius of the trumpet and flugelhorn is a gifted arranger/composer. This quickly becomes evident when you listen to his multi faceted recordings, as he is equally fluent with mainstream, fusion, big-band orchestras or multi-phonic experimental Jazz.
Fresu was born on the sunny Mediterranean Island of Sardinia in 1961 (Berchidda). By the age of 11 years he had picked up the trumpet and his course was set. Later he was admitted to the Cagliari Conservatory and the University of Performing Arts Bologna.
The signature Paolo Fresu sound hints at ‘Miles‘ in an unselfconscious way, but more importantly it is a very Italian sound and rooted deeply in the Sardinian landscape. Over recent years Fresu has showcased both Sardinia and more recently Corsica in his work (His latest ECM album has him improvising against the sounds of a traditional Corsican mens choir and the sound can only be described as haunting or other-worldly)
Paulo Fresu is a pillar of the modern Italian Jazz scene; he is extremely well-known across Europe and increasingly so in America. He records with ECM, EMI, Columbia, Blue Note and RCA, plus a number of smaller Italian and European labels. His disks are reasonably easy to obtain (through New Zealand record shops like Marbecks or Parsons) and Amazon has a wide range on offer. He has recorded with Carla Bley, Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, Dave Liebman, Tino Tracanna, Gianluigi Trovesi, Furio di Castri, Antonello Salis, Uri Caine, Ralph Towner and so the list goes on.
I have been lucky enough to visit Italy a number of times and from the first visit I was dazzled by the vibrant Italian Jazz scene. It is fair to say that I was guided in this by my close friends Patrizia and Gianni and it was through them that I discovered a talented group of Sardinian Jazz musicians (Fresu and Tracanna among them). Patrizia and Gianni live in Milano but ‘Patty’ was born in Sardinia and has connections to Jazz musicians from there.
The first clip is Paolo Fresu at his ballad playing best. The second is Paolo Fresu and the ‘Orchestra Jazz della Sardegna‘- George Gershwins Porgy & Bess (Summertime). Many will easily spot this as the Gil Evans/Miles Davis version – Gunther Schuller provided Paolo with the transcription. The second piece is a TV clip of Paolo Fresu showing a DJ how trumpet multiphonics would work played against a sampled loop.
Another highly recommended CD is ‘Kind of Porgy and Bess’. In this a 5 piece band renders this music into utterly modern Italian Jazz (Fresu (t), Nguyen Le (g), Furio de Castro (d), Dhafer Youssef (oud,v), Antonio Salis (p,e-p,h), Roberto Gatto (b). There is a world of enjoyment and excitement in Jazz Italia – don’t miss out.