23 – Three Knots
23 Three Knots
Sounds that slowly glide, constant evolutions, wide eddies, high altitude improvisations:
The analogy between a kite’s flight and the music is the protagonist in the work by Emong quartet and the new album Three Knots on nusica.org.
- Manuel Caliumi: tenor and alto sax
- Federico Pierantoni: trombone
- Michele Bonifati: guitar and compositions
- Evita Polidoro: drums and vocals
Nusica.org presents its 23rd recording project, to be released on April 18, 2023: Three Knots by the Emong Quartet. This is the first record and the first as a leader by Michele Bonifati who, together with Evita Polidoro, Manuel Caliumi, and Federico Pierantoni, bring to the label a mix of jazz, electronic music, rock, American folk, originals, and covers ranging from john Lennon to Rage Against The Machine.
Emong holds a multifaceted identity and borrows its name from a particular type of kite, a passion of Michele Bonifati’s, with a particular characteristic: flight with feeble winds, almost absent.
The absence of wind is faced by the force applied to the string by the kite-flier: his movements convey the direction, dictate the movement that allows it to glide, a slow and calibrated made of wavering and circular movements, different than soring to high altitude.
Three Knots is the amount of wind necessary to allow an Emong a wide flight, several meters from the ground but slow and constant, like the road that led this group to create this first record. A simile that tells a story of a slow musical research, with the willingness to stay close and present, to dive deep but without giving up and raise the head towards the sky.
In this project the ensemble, made of Michele Bonifati (guitar and compositions), Manuel Caliumi (alto and tenor sax), Federico Perantoni (trombone) and Evita Polidoro (drums), produced nine tracks: Starting With a Cherry (Bonifati), Outer Care (Bonifati), Balanzategui (Bonifati), Working Class Hero (John Lennon), El Largo Viaje (Bonifati), Les Lunettes De Mon Père (Bonifati), Masse (Bonifati), Clemence (Bonifati) e Settle for Nothing (Rage Against the Machine) with the voice of Evita Polidoro.
These tracks, says the bandleader Bonifati: “took a long time, almost ten years, and some were written in the last year. The musical thread of the album was built with Evita, Federico and Manuel, crucial to give a voice to the music and a profound dimension to my writing, restoring in great detail its emotional and narrative nuances”.
Emong, a quartet composed of Evita Polidoro on drums, Manuel Caliumi on saxophone, Michele Bonifati on guitar and Federico Pierantoni on trombone, is Michele Bonifati’s first project as bandleader.
The name of the project derives from a particular model of kite (a passion that Michele has been cultivating for years, while practicing in areas characterized by constant lack of wind) capable of flying in weak, almost absent, wind conditions. With these kites the wind is replaced by the force exerted by the kite flyer on the line. The gestures transmit direction to the kite inducing the movement that will lead him to glide; a slow and calibrated flight made of wavy and circular movements, different from hovering at great heights. A choice therefore, which enhances slow time, the desire to stay close and present, to dive deep rather than distance yourself, but without giving up the gesture of raising your head towards the sky. Aspects to which is given further importance through the title of the album, that will be released in 2023: “Three knots”. The three knots, intended as a unit of measurement of the wind, is the necessary quantity of wind that allows an Emong to make a wide flight , hovering far from the ground but slow and constant in its evolutions, like the road that led the group to the creation of this first album.
The group plays original music composed by Michele Bonifati with the exception of two songs, one by John Lennon and one by Rage Against The Machine, sung by Evita Polidoro, chosen to complete the narrative and sound horizon of this group.
The choice of an unusual lineup, together with the peculiarities of the repertoire, enhances the mobility of the roles of the members of the group to create a unitary and cohesive and at the same time fluid and elusive sound that ranges among the many influences that have contributed in defining the musical identity of these musicians: jazz, electronic music, rock, American folk and much more.
Balanzategui is a sort of chorale that introduces the following track, Working Class hero. It represents a breath and suspension within the narrative of the album after the pressing pace of the previous two tracks. It is an imaginary place from a children’s book intitled “Memories of a Cow”.
Clemence is a song that follows the traditional jazz form aaba, even though the different sections don’t have the same number of bars. I’ve always imagined it as a very melodic tune, almost melancholic, with great opportunities for the soloists to find creative and unexpected solutions, given the simplicity of the harmonic context. The title is inspired by a novel by Fred Vargas from the series “Chief Inspector Adamsberg”. Despite the sweetness of the name, and the tune, Clemence is an assassin.
03. El Largo Viaje
The best way to tell the story of this tune is to reveal its inspiration. El Largo Viaje is the title of the first book by Jorge Semprun and it tells the story of a train ride taken by the author, as a political prisoner, towards the concentration camp of Buchenwald. The book is about this train ride and much more; with this tune I tried to present some of the wonder, emotion, and horror I experienced while reading this book. The tune has a simple structure, repetitive, that proceeds relentlessly, but with a constant building of energy that leads to a freeing finale.
04. Les Lunettes de mon Père
This a tune I wrote a long time ago. It is dedicated to my father, to his reflexivity and depth.
Masse is the track the best represents this work and the sound of this band. There are three sections in the development of this tune: a dreamy first section, a central section, more rhythmic almost like a dazed funeral march and a final one with a rock attitude and energy, with a strong melodic nature. The balance between the four musicians is clear: Manuel and Federico have two different voices, two different ways of singing, two different approaches in dealing with space, and are completely complementary. The same goes for Evita and me; we unite and align when necessary, when forward motion is necessary or we step back to give space and openness to the music.
06. Outer Care
This is last tune I wrote for this record, about two months before going in the studio. This is my tribute to Autechre, also the bass drum pattern is similar to the one on Cichli (Chiastic Side). The development is squarely within the canon of contemporary jazz, but I’m happy to have incorporated a compositional inspiration from electronic music, a world so far from this.
07. Settle For Nothing
This song closes the album and it’s a song I loved very much when I was an adolescent. In selecting the track, I consulted with Evita and we both agreed naturally on Settle for Nothing. The idea behind the arrangement of this song, being so far from the original sound context, was to turn it into an ethereal ballad, unsettled and without drums. Evita’s voice fits perfectly into the musical texture created by the other instruments.
08. Starting With A Cherry
The track, and the album, opens with a free improvisation where horns and drums move freely and later the guitar comes in to bring a musical backdrop where drums and horns intertwine. After the improvisation the composed tune begins, where the melody goes from voice to voice: from the guitar to the sax, to the trombone. This is one of the first tunes I have ever written. I’m not sure where this came to be a homage to Don Cherry, since he has nothing to do with the sound of the composition. But the title stuck, along with my wondering why there was ever a link with Don Cherry, but I think the link is my devotion to his music.
09. Working Class Hero
This is the first of the two covers of the album, and the score says: “Working Class Hero as if it were a piece by Paul Motian”. I don’t know how Motian-esque the rendition is. I want to point out how the production work by Simone Coen, who was great on this record, helped to profoundly expand the expressive potential of the execution. This is a great opportunity to thank him for the great job on this project.
nusica.org is a non-profit association that promotes musical culture.
Take part in the project with a donation of 13 euros and you will receive the CD as a gift.