Stefano Pastor



Liner Notes





CD Reviews















Transmutations is my second disc and, unlike the former, which was meant as a project founded on Italian popular song, is mainly based on writing.

Transmutation of musical elements (melodic or other) and their decontextualization suggested to me these six compositions which originate from very different materials to become something else.

To transform into something else everything it meets seems to be a peculiarity of jazz. Songs, for example, gathered from many sources become jazz standards.

The manipulation of musical material in composition is a very fascinating practice and an extraordinary source of inspiration to me.

As a result these transfigurations share the approach to modern jazz compositions, including several experiences where Afro-American language has developed in its history. A kind of jazz certainly transversal but, I guess, authentic.

In this recording I also to pay homage to some giants of jazz who have deeply influenced me. The music of Ornette Coleman undoubtedly represents a key point in my musical experience and particularly in this work, that’s why the tale begins with Bird Food, a starting point for most things to come out lately.

Seul B. is the first transmutation originating from the manipulation of archaic material. The main theme is built on a tetrachord descending from the origin of blues. My use of this material is also a tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus who frequently used it in a superb way.

The second transmutation named Nel Blu Dipinto di Blues, vaguely conceived in Coleman’s style, is a free jazz piece founded on be-bop harmonic, melodic and rhythmic material. It’s a sort of paraphrase of the famous Domenico Modugno’s song called Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu. I like to keep some legacy with previously album, that’s why I choose to play again on Italian songs. The theme has a twelve bar structure, suggesting a vague blues connection.

Don Juan is a composition based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni fragments. The second time “A” section theme flows on the 2nd violins “ostinato” exposed in the Ouverture and in the 4th Act of Mozart’s masterpiece. This melodic fragment represents the terrific apparition of the dead “Commendatore” statue. The “B” section theme is built on that mysterious line who gives voice to the terrible warning “Non si pasce di cibo mortale chi si pasce di cibo celeste” (He who dines on Heavenly food has no need for the food of mortals). One of the most astonishing moments of the opera and of entire Mozart’s production too, which becomes “other” in this game of metamorphosis: a dark and meditative habanera.

Two rhythmic cells and two harmonic patterns, different and recognizable, run after each other dance “samba” in the forty bars structure Quarenta, fourth transmutation. Bop, post-bop and latin elements collide to create a stylistic short circuit over a typical Brazilian backdrop.

Crescent, by John Coltrane, is one of my favourites jazz discs ever since my adolescence. To play this beautiful composition is an ambitious dream I always wanted. This piece always creates great tension within me, so different from the lyricism of Coltrane in that recording. The rest of the group abandon their typical loud sound, however the hidden action of Elvin Jones and the explosive strength of Rudy Van Gelder recording can communicate to me feelings of tension and anxiety which I tried to re-propose in this session.

The double identity of blues and free remark the fifth transmutation called Dimorfismo. Here the more archaic meets bop and latin fragments, in a game strongly polyrhythmic and polyharmonic. Even if the complete track highlights a big ambiguity in styles, the historical vanguards often converging, I guess the blues side definitely  prevails.

The Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn beautiful song named I Fall in Love Too Easily is a moment of lyricism and relaxation in a disc full of tension elements. A tuneful interval entrusted, in the begin, to the first-rate of Piero.

With its prolonged polyrhythms and intense lyricisms, the sixth Transmutation Vucciria, represents the dizzy contrasts of the historical market of Palermo, with its frenetic life, to today’s crumbling state of this great Mediterranean city. The melodic content is created exclusively on the natural and altered pentatonics changing continuously during the theme.

Another element of continuity with my first disc: a Brazilian song to close the work. Some time ago someone asked me who were the most influencing jazz musicians to me. I think that a question like this deserves at least one hundred names in answer. Without thinking too much I choose three names: John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Chet Baker. With this in mind I meant to pay homage to these great Masters and Esquecendo Voce, by the immense Tom Jobim, is my tribute to Chet and his revolutionary mode on singing and thinking melody. Interpreting this song I was influenced by intimate atmosphere of Joao Gilberto, Caetano Veloso or Eliane Elias. I choose to use seven violins for accompaniment, so to treat the harmony in a more explicit way than a quartet devoid of harmonic instruments. In arranging I tried to express the pain of parting by a harmonization that becomes progressively more abstract and ethereal in an interior and deep suffering atmosphere, which destroys and prevents any external display of such sentiments.


Stefano Pastor