In order to continue his artistic navigation in that imaginary Mediterranean that has always been his main source of inspiration, Riccardo Tesi - internationally renowned accordion player and reference figure of World Music in Italy - chooses new travelling companions and gathers them into a new formation, the Elastic Trio, with which he presents his latest work: LA GIUSTA DISTANZA.
Eleven brand new original compositions, plus the reinterpretation of a song by Eugenio Bennato, made with the collaboration of guitarist Vieri Sturlini and percussionist Francesco Savoretti, give life to a sunny and spicy music, with overwhelming rhythms combined with poetic and evocative melodies, balanced between a multitude of popular inspirations, stylistic genres, cultural references. All enriched, as is the style of the artist from Pistoia, by the presence of numerous guests, chosen from among the many he has met and appreciated in the course of his career, including Ginevra Di Marco, Ziad Trabelsi, Nico Gori, Andrea Piccioni and Marco Ambrosini. For a feast of rhythms and sounds, voices and timbres, reminding us, by bringing them together, how many fascinating forms the music of the world can take.
But let us leave it to Riccardo Tesi himself to tell us how this new musical adventure came about and to let us discover the meaning of each track on the album “La giusta distanza”.
Most of the tracks on the album were written during the lockdown caused by the pandemic, which redefined the concept of distance, hence my choice of the title. Given the dramatic situation and the uncertainty of the future, which we all experienced during the lockdown, I decided to use the period of inactivity creatively, I took the time to reflect and do what I prefer most of all: composing and creating.
Thus, these new compositions were born, which always have the Mediterranean in the background, but which summarize and synthesis all my musical passions at 360 degrees.
When it came to putting these new pieces together, I strongly felt the need for new stimuli and new collaborators that would get me out of my comfort zone: that of working with Banditaliana, which will continue its journey that began 30 years ago in parallel. Hence the birth of Elastic Trio, which forms the working group behind this record.
On percussion is Francesco Savoretti, who combines his extraordinary mastery of ethnic percussion and frame drums with a great sense of groove inherited from his past as a drummer.
On guitar is Vieri Sturlini, impeccable technique, harmonic knowledge, improvisational skills, and above all a wealth of colors and nuances that allow him to move nonchalantly from classical to acoustic guitar, from electric to mandolin. The core group is completed by the double bass of Mirco Capecchi, a former collaborator of Banditaliana, Bella Ciao and other projects.
They were joined by countless guests, friends and colleagues, who contributed to the final realization of the various tracks with their colors and talent.
SANTIAGO is an instrumental composition dedicated to San Jacopo, patron saint of my city of Pistoia, which is twinned with Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of millions of pilgrims walking the Via Francigena. I have played several times in Santiago and it has remained in my heart for the great spirituality that one breathes there.
The guest on clarinet is the great Nico Gori, a leading musician on the Italian jazz scene and a regular collaborator of Stefano Bollani.
TINDARI is a tarantella dedicated to this enchanting place in Sicily. I was on holiday there when I heard a voice from afar, the sound of which immediately captured me. It was a hawker selling fruit, who was announcing his arrival to his customers with this particular call. I could not resist, seized by an irresistible curiosity, I took the car and followed his trail until I caught up with him in a courtyard and recorded him with my phone. I already knew it would end up on the disc.
VALZER D'APRIL bloomed out of nowhere, like a ray of sunshine, one April day in 2019, in the middle of a pandemic. A sweet and serene melody, enhanced by the cello arranged by Massimo Tagliata.
Although I do not sing, I love songwriting very much and I like to engage with this musical form. I had a couple of melodies in my drawer that seemed suitable and I called upon two songwriters whom I respect and appreciate to take care of the textual part as well as the vocal interpretation.
The theme of SOTTO LA CENERE seemed to me to suit Massimo Donno, a good singer-songwriter from Salento for whom I took care of the production and arrangements of his second album Partenze in 2015. I liked the lyrics he wrote immediately and the song came to life quickly. In the arrangement, the contribution of Vieri Sturlini and Gigi Biolcati was very important.
COUSCOUS E FASOL, on the other hand, had a long gestation and was changed many times before finding its final form. The initial arrangement puzzled me, there was always something that didn't convince me. The turning point was the involvement of Ziad Trabelsi, a leading musician of the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, and his magical oud. With Ziad we had often met backstage at festivals in the past and I always admired his work. When I was finishing up the recordings, I attended one of his concerts and there the light bulb went on: it was the sound I was looking for. His suggestions were enlightening, along with those of Massimo Tagliata, one of my all-time favourite accordionists, who played electric piano here as well as taking care of the sound recording of various tracks.
The song's culinary title was coined by Vieri Sturlini, who had christened it Pasta e Fasol, since at the recording stage the piece was called F G because it moves most of the time on these two chords. After Ziad Tablesi's decisive intervention on the oud, it finally became Couscous and Fasol.
LA BELLA STAGIONE, on the other hand, dates back to a few years ago and I wrote it four hands with Daniele Biagini, a pianist from Pistoia, with whom I had previously made the album Cameristico. My friend Stefano Melone made an important contribution to the arrangement.
BALLATA DI UNA MADRE is a song by Eugenio Bennato with whom I had the pleasure of playing in September 2021. The melody of this song got into my head and couldn't get out. So I thought of making it my own and entrusting it to the velvet voice of Ginevra Di Marco who, as usual, sang it perfectly on the first take.
Vieri Sturlini's guitar work was indispensable.
CICCIABOMBA is a kind of scottish rocker dedicated to the people of the balfolk where two unusual instruments appear in my work, the musette (bagpipe from central France) played by Vincent Boniface, whom I met at a very young age before he became one of the most talented multi-instrumentalists on the national scene, and the hurdy-gurdy by Francesco Giusta, another young talent. On electric bass Silvano Lobina, whom I met during my collaboration with Elena Ledda's Sonos in the 1990s and who has been my favourite electric bassist ever since.
CITRUSTANGO, dedicated to a very dear person, is a small, flavoured homage to the best-known Argentine rhythm and its main instrument: the bandoneon. Over many years of concerts, I have realised that a tango must always be in the repertoire!
When I started to compose MEX MOON, even before the piece took any direction and had any lyrics, I immediately had the title suggested by this vaguely South American trend of the melody in mind.
So I asked singer-songwriter Maria Pierantoni Giua, who has half Genoese and half Ecuadorean blood, to write and interpret a nocturnal love story 'under this Mexican moon'.
BUCAREST is the first track I started recording, still in the pre-covid phase, and for this track I collaborated in the first phase with the talented guitarist Giuseppe Tropeano and Giacomo Tongiani on the marimba, an instrument I have always adored. On percussion there is Andrea Piccioni, a great master of frame drums who here plays daf, zarb and riq.
Then I added the hurdy gurdy and the nychelharp, an instrument that has fascinated me for a long time, especially after listening to Marco Ambrosini, one of its best interpreters, and it was an honour to have him as a guest.
TEMA DI CRISTINA closes the disc on a somewhat melancholic note. Another track I wrote a few years ago together with Daniele Biagini and is dedicated to Cristina Pezzoli, a great director and woman of the theatre with whom I often worked, but above all a great friend who left us all too soon.
Riccardo Tesi, internationally renowned composer and accordion player, is considered one of the most daring and influential musicians on the European world scene.
An instrumentalist with an unmistakable style, he is one of the pioneers of the rediscovery of the diatonic accordion in Italy, a popular instrument whose language has been revolutionised and whose vocabulary has been expanded beyond tradition.
An assiduous traverser of geographical and stylistic frontiers during his 40-year career, he has collaborated with prestigious names in Italian and foreign world music (C.Bueno, E.Ledda, D.Sepe, P.Vaillant, J.Kirkpatrick, J. Vali, M.Perrone, K.Junkera), jazz (G.Mirabassi, G.Trovesi, M.P.De Vito, N.Gori..), rock (Piero Pelù, PGR, Skiantos) up to the great singer-songwriter songs (F.De Andrè, I. Fossati, G.M.Testa, G.Gaber, C.Donà, Tosca etc.).
Leader of Banditaliana, one of the most internationally acclaimed Italian groups, and a member of Samurai, a quintet of European accordion all-stars, he has played at the most important European folk & jazz festivals with frequent tours to Australia, Canada and Japan.
In 2014, he curated the new edition of Bella Ciao to celebrate 50 years of the most important show in the history of Italian folk music.
He has recorded 26 albums under his own name, including numerous original productions dedicated to liscio, traditional Tuscan and Emilian music, has composed music for cinema and theatre, and has long been involved in didactics as a teacher at the 'Tchaikovsky' Conservatory in Catanzaro.