am sitting here, listening to “Chants” for the second time. I just
listened to it and I wanted to hear it again. I love it. Stefano’s
sound and his note-to-note expression are so beautiful. He is doing
something different from anyone I have heard. His violin talks in the
jazz way of speaking, every syllable beautiful and personal.
Stefano Pastor is the best thing that's happened to the violin in our
music since Stuff Smith.
- Jazz is aural tradition music with
strong folkloric roots. It starts and develops as collective and
community art. The musicians share an intense collaboration and the
mutual dialogue (usually improvised) is a central point. The
individuality imposed itself since the 1920’s but it has not
become solipsist. Also, through the close affinity of composer and
performer in jazz, the composer writing for specific soloists or
ensembles has found more importance in this music.
- So what about a solo recording by a
violin, which is an unusual instrument within jazz tradition? There
are many implications here, and the listening of this wonderful disc
makes to think about the jazz violin’s actual state and to the
role – today important – that Stefano Pastor has reached in this
field. And this is definitely jazz, whatever we could mean with this
word. It shares the presuppositions, the aesthetics and tradition
with jazz and communicates a deep emotional charge as the best jazz
does. The moving and respectful version of the opening track Naima,
shows a strongly felt Afro-American rooted musical identity.
- A solo violin project is very
original, of course (sometimes Stefano overdubbed some parts with
viola, mandolin, guitar, percussion and vocal, but it’s mostly a
solo violin disc). Inside Afro-American music the solo violin
recordings are rare and mostly characterized by a strong
experimental mark, not easy for a wide audience. On the contrary, in
Pastor’s disc the rational research on forms and structures is
softened by a sharp, lyric component that rises from the deepness of
the soul and come out from some standard. A new and unusual choice
but we’ll speak about it again.
- Violin is considered the very
prince of European classical music and it couldn’t compete, out of
technical reasons, in the elective field of the black music:
the one that Ben Sildran calls vocalized tone, which regards
the ambit of pronounce and personalization of the sound. Its thin
voice couldn’t compete with brass, reeds and percussion and it
still has actually some difficulties to find solutions to fitly
amplify his voice. Passing on the limits of an exploration that has
excessively altered the instruments identity (from Jerry Goodman’s
and Jean Luc Ponty’s rock to the radical experiments by Ornette
Coleman on violin) Pastor has reached new technical solutions,
setting in an appropriate way a piezoelectric pick up to
exalt powerful and thickness of timbre without sacrifing the
- It is a clear step forward that
brings the violin to pass on the historical dichotomy of a
collocation between two worlds and two musical cultures.
- Pastor, as a violinist, has a
classical education and got diversified experiences (he collaborated
with José Carreras, Cecilia Gasdia and Paolo Conte) and an intense
jazz experimentation. He has radically re-formulated his classical
instrumental technique obtaining results that seem evident on his
last works and on this disc too.
- “I’m definitely oriented to
improvised music – he said in a recent interview – and I
guess that, unconsciously, I always have searched a deep and
interior musical expression; this is why I progressively left the
written music, taking interest more and more in the free forms.
Forms that do not occupy the mind with prescriptions that distract
from the true objective of the artistic expression: the deep
communication. An aim I pursue through (by) the way of introspection”.
- And the word introspection shall
make us think. Excluding to treat the complex question of art’s
psychology, the term evocates that entering in relation with the
psyche that Carl Gustav Jung called “active imagination”. In his
therapeutic practice it consisted in observing the flowing of the
transforming interior images.
- This dialogue with the unconscious
that Jung had formalized in therapeutic method is also accomplished
- on a different plane – in the artistic production. In both the
ambits the four fundamental functions of the man “intellect” and
“sentiment”, “sensation” and “intuition” become joined
and assimilated in a path of self-realization and growth.
- In reality this is not a “solo”
disc but a dialogue of Pastor with the other part of himself, a
confrontation with his shadow sometimes disquieting and dramatic of
course, as for example, in “La Chambre”, inspired by Jean
Paul Sartre’s homonymous tale. But in the shadow’s sphere is
also included the soul, the female dimension of the male
- So in some tracks Stefano lets
naturally his poetic sensitivity emerge (the sentimental side in the
Jungian meaning) appearing as strong as (perhaps) it was suppressed.
A sentiment that embodies the violin’s wide melodies; the sung
pieces (an amazing voice: limpid and intense); and the choice of
some themes (Dança da Solidao more melting then the Paulinho
da Viola’s original version or Chi mi ha insegnato by Luigi
- In these and other pieces that you
will discover, the musical emotion comes out from the tension
between our expectations (based on interiorised codes of what we
expect a jazz violin to do) and what Stefano has removed or added
provoking, as Claude Lévi-Strauss says, that “multitude of
leaps and pauses, disappointed and recompensed over the hope
expectations, result of the challenges issued from the work of art”.