Liner notes






CD Reviews













I 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. 

I think Stefano Pastor is the best thing that's happened to the violin in our music since Stuff Smith.

Connie Crothers


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 sound’s beauty.
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 unconscious psyche.
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 Tenco).
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”.
Angelo Leonardi