October 20, 2011

Italian harpist VINCENZO ZITELLO tells his fascination for the Third Ear Band music...

Vincenzo Zitello (http://www.vincenzozitello.it) is a very famous Italian harpist. Composer and concert artist, he started studying music at a very early age, playing the transverse flute and the viola. The first person to spread and pioneer the Celtic harp in Italy, from 1976, he dedicates himself to his musical studies, taking part in Breton cultural and musical seminars held at the “Ti Kendalc'h” with Dominig Bouchaud and Mariannig Larc’hantec. In 1978 he forms the harp and oboe duet with Roberto Mazza, author on 1991 of the wonderful
TEBish private cassette  titled "Scoprire le orme". On 1980 he specialised in the bardic harp and Celtic singing with the monster Alan Stivell. From 1986 he has recorded eight albums and had important collaborations with some of the most known popular music (Ivano Fossati, Pooh, Alice...) and folk Italian artists (Peppe Barra, Lou Dalfin, La Sedon Salvadie...).

Just this year he has recorded a brand new record, "Talismano" [Talisman], another important work about the Holy Land of the Harp.
Among his records, "Atlas", recorded in 2007, is directly inspired by the Third Ear Band's music, one of the favourite band ever of Zitello. You can listen some tracks of it on Zitello's Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/zitellovincenzo or buy the album on Itunes.
Starting from this evidence, I've asked him some questions about his connections with the Third Ear...

How did you compose "Atlas", the record you've admitted it's been inspired by the TEB's music?
“I’ve composed "Atlas" between 2006 and 2007. It’s a work I’ve thought about since the Seventies. On 1973, when I discovered the Third Ear Band, my music wasn‘t the same anymore, also the way to conceive it. For years I’ve considered them my masters of sound perception.

With the musician with whom I was playing at the time [Roberto Mazza], I was really conditioned by them – both of us we loved really much their style and in some ways we imited them or, better, we was on the same track, for us they was an huge benchmark. 

"At that time I wasn’t playing harp, I played the violin, and listening to a band like them that was handling classical music in a contemporary creative way – but with such out of the way improvisational freedom, at the same time extremely alchemical and magic – where so many memories was converging, for myself it was a really innovative philosophical state of music. Most of all, it was completely out of the usual Rock soppiness of that time: it seemed to me something that aim to our soul, a dream...  

"On that days I was listening to very few music, I just consumed all the TEB’s records. Of course now I’ve got all their CD’s.
Then the time brings you to other countries, but at that time I was so young, just 18, and very hardliner and obviously naïve about things. Now I’m 55 but I’ve never forgotten them…
So all these impressions was the fuel to compose “Atlas”, a comeback to my origins in a more conscious way.
For years I was thinking of doing a record inspired by the Third Ear Band's music, I wanted to do it in a contemporary and personal way, I’ve always looking in my composing spirit their magic, their colours. The instruments I use to play lend myself to it, and the peculiar mutation of the TEB music... Their track titles struck me. In my opinion they was an extraordinary thing, then and now...".

Which tracks composed by you are inspired by the TEB's music?
"It's more easy for me to tell you which tracks aren’t inspired by the Third Ear Band. No one!!!"

When have you met the Band?
"The person who let me know the TEB was Roberto Mazza. A great oboe player, with a wonderful sound. I suggest to  music fans to listen to all his works. I think he’s the player who better has got the Paul Minns’ inheritance. We’ve played together for many years, until 1982."
Which are the main elements you've taken from their experience for putting in your music?
"Their sound becoming, the continuous mutations, the full and the melody that opens constantly to deep images, also their way to use strings and most of all their spirit: while I was composing some orchestrations I was thinking about that TEB music aura...".

                                                                           Vincenzo Zitello - "Celtic Raga".
Do you think they are still up-to-date? Why?
"I think their spirit is very relevant, indeed not much it's been done to spread them. Contemporary music needs new perspectives, in some way TEB music has been out of styles and fashions, but it contains a view that music needs. After rock, jazz and folk we need now a brand new music away from the trite styles, and I found in the TEB music excellent and still authoritative culture and inspiration for the present time, at least until the album titled "Prophecies"...".

Are you still listening to their records?
“Yes, of course. I prefer most of all “Third Ear Band”, but “Alchemy” is that enraptures me”.

How would you describe the TEB's music?

"I would describe it as a sound intuition, something that expands counsciousness in a magical way, and in the same time it is perfectly rooted in the European cultural memory. Eastern contaminations are the same of Western medieval music... TEB music has a wonder one can found in the Reinassance alchemical experimentations; a research that collect the collective memory of an organic freedom almost lost in Europe. Their sounds are real, they haven't temporal masks as like their perceptions that communicate. You can love it or you can detest it, because you don't understand it...".

Which is your favourite TEB's tracks? Why?
“My favourites are “Air”, “Water”, “Fire”, “Earth”, really amazing. Then “Ghetto Raga”, “Druid One” and “Stone Circle”.

no©2011 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

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