by Vinyl Vibes – pictures by ©ourtesy of Takashi Mori
Antonio Forcione: Some Strokes on His Strings
From an afro-latino alchemy to the Comfort Zone with Sarah Jane Morris
Antonio Forcione is considered one of the cool characters represented by an Italian Record, a fact demonstrated by illustrious reviews of his work as a musician-composer from magazines such as "The Guardian", "La Stampa", "The Times" and many others who describe this extraordinary artist as among the most popular and beloved performers with the British public and internationally. Tablet 2.0 went to find "Il nostro caro angelo" in Edinburgh, the capital of festivals, in which Antonio is always present, playing numerous concerts, including many for charities that have made the musician a much loved and appreciated local hero.
Antonio Forcione Interview
1) Meanwhile, thanks for this meeting with you, exclusively for our Community Magazine. When we think of the character of Antonio Forcione the first three words that leap to mind are those defined by The Times to describe your person: grace, passion and fire. How do you think these three elements are reflected in your personality and, especially, in the music that you offer to your audience?
A.F. When I hear words like this that describe ‘me’, I feel honored, encouraged and bemused when I am described with such affection. These words are applied to me most likely because the audience can feel how much I love what I do and that I put all my emotions into my music with a possible overdose of conviction and passion! Art is an expression of emotion and as such it touches us all.
2) In many of your songs we hear very much your closeness to some Latin countries, Cuba for example, but also, most recently, your influences from other African countries. They seem to be very different areas, yet in your compositions you can make from them a unique and well-blended language. What exactly is it that inspires you in this combination and could lead you (assuming it isn’t already happening) towards a new way of producing ethnic jazz?
A.F. Music has no boundaries and each genre tells the story of the culture behind it. Today we have the opportunity, more than ever in our history, to access numerous cultural histories and to blend them into a global music that should inspire and enrich us all and somehow make this world a better place.
I blend ethnic music from the cultures I have visited based largely on a love of melodies and rhythm which, for me, is a limitless entity. Whether I could produce a whole new way of producing ethnic jazz ... well, who knows! I am only following my instinct, tracing roots and giving them new wings.
3) The Duo as a form of creative alchemy and a new artistic tendency must follow: from Tuck and Patti up to Everything but The Girl, from 2Cellos up to Musica Nuda, but also in television formats, in humor, and in the contemporary visual arts there are many examples where the creativity of the double contributes strongly to public success. Yet, as with the two Gemini, these experiences can also create huge conflicts and disagreements. In your opinion what are the necessary ingredients for lasting success in a duet?
A.F. To survive as a duo you need similar vision, walk a similar path, love and passion for what you do and a wish to share the experience in the most profound way.
3) Staying with the Duo: Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris: a highly respected acoustic jazz combination, especially in "Comfort Zone". Do you think is this a prelude to a possible future creative couple ?So, what do you think of the idea of making one or more albums together, assuming you're not already working on a Duo project
A.F. I am extremely excited about this collaboration with Sarah, I have been working all over the world in duo format, but mainly instrumental music. Performing with Sarah Jane is particularly exciting, our energies really complement each other, I also find it very challenging writing songs with her, it is a little bit like writing the music for short films with a very interesting story line. I feel this is just the beginning of a good and prolific collaboration.
4) In duet with Sarah, the strength of your notes, slowly comes into harmony with the strength and intensity of the voice and a certain interpretive intimacy of this disruptive performer. How would you explain this ambivalence?
A.F. It must be a good Musical Chemistry match!
6) Food and sounds: at the presentation evening for the Milan Expo, which was attended in Glasgow by representatives of our Embassy and Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Fabio Campoli, the now famous food designer and his circle of Gourmet’s Circle were followed by your band, where Mediterranean sounds, but also interesting afro-funky combinations, attracted the attention of more than 400 people. As you know, Fabio is author of several publications. What do you think of the idea of you being a special sound consultant in an event in which every recipe is accompanied with a particular playlist of music and songs? In many restaurants and tasting rooms, in fact, several bloggers or food reviewers now also assign 3, 4 or 5 stars even to the music heard during a tasting. Do you think food and sounds should still be considered as two completely separate worlds or are we already seeing the beginning of a new lifestyle model?
A.F. I have been in the music business, composing, producing, arranging, performing, and must say I have never been asked to be a “sound consultant”! But I thank you for the suggestion, I am quite open to the Idea. Cooking is a sensual art in itself and is well complemented by music. In my world, they are both are vital to survival!
7) Sarah is loved in Italy, you are loved here in the UK and we are sure in other places where you have been hosted , albeit separately. Do you think your possible artistic union can make you really cultural ambassadors between the two countries? Could your two talents actually speak in a universal language?
A.F. Music is a universal language in itself and we would like to think that our songs, regardless of which language we perform in, would cross boundaries and highlight some of the troubles in our world today, and maybe, just maybe, help people to get through hard times and push a little bit the awareness. This would include more political themes such as social issues which mainstream music frequently avoids.
8) 19 albums is a large number. How do you make them different from each other? Do you have a current project in progress? Would you care to tell us about it?
A.F. Life never repeat itself right? If music genuinely reflects your life journeys, the music should also reflect that…nothing is the same and nothing should repeat, though sometimes things can sound pretty similar.
Since my first visit to Africa eight years ago, my musical vocabulary has certainly broadened. Since releasing my 19th album “Sketches of Africa’ I have visited Brazil and toured in Cuba in 2014 with a Cuban Band. I am now composing material inspired by my four trips to Cuba. I am not sure when I will be ready but certainly a ‘Sketches from Cuba’ is in the pipe line. Other things coming up are another tour with the Bulgarian voices and Flamenco singer Arcangel as well as a performance with the String orchestra in Australia in 2016.
9) Antonio, there is just one last question: is there anything really new that you would really like to work on? Something that somehow goes a bit beyond the sounds that have made you so popular? Of course, Tablet 2.0 , but we believe also many of your fans, are keen to hear a work by Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris, especially as Sarah has focused on an interesting project exploring different sounds, as in her latest "Bloody Rain". In our opinion everything is in place .Will it happen? Are you seriously thinking about it?
A.F. I do not make compromises with my music and I only ever do and play what I truly believe. I would always be open to making music that breaks new ground and explores different sounds, and working with Sarah is a delight. Our current project has very clear messages and I hope very much to get the message out to as many people as we can.
Antonio is fixed there... he grinning... then turns back to look, before grabbing his guitar again, one of many who know how to speak and, most importantly, what to say; He forgot his hat on the chair... one of our Big Team runs after him... but he has already disappeared... so that cap is back on the chair... sooner or later, we are sure, our dear Angel will return to take it; but this, of course, is another story. One of the many, told by a formidable minstrel of the acoustic funky-jazz, totally Made in the World.