– ENZO AVITABILE –
Celebrated to the last Art Show in Venice, “Music Life” is a documentary dedicated to Enzo Avitabile and directed by acclaimed director Jonathan Demme.
The video’s exciting images that highlight the high musical level of the musician, mixed with scenes of daily life, have been projected last week in almost all Italian movies. Through the poetic music of the Neapolitan artist, the director has created a story that follows his desire to save the world, giving to the documentary a clear political significance. In perfect communion with the sensitivity of Demme, the Avitabile’s songs, always open to contamination and differences, exhibit solidarity for the oppressed and an empathy for the margins. A video to watch.
For the uninitiated, Enzo Avitabile is a famous saxophonist, musician and songwriter from Naples, perhaps best known in Italy for the song “Soul Express”, but who has had a background in all respect. He grows in the neighborhood of Naples called Marianella, studying the saxophone, and starting to perform at 7-8 years in Americans locals of Naples, and later graduating in flute at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella. In 1979 his participation in the second Pino Daniele’s self-titled album, and in 1980 he gave his contribution to another important Pino Daniele’s album called “Nero a metà”. In 1982 he released his first album, “Avitabile” , which already showed his black music style, and in which one song was dedicated to the deceased friend Mario Musella (“The Showmen”‘s singer). In 1983 he released his second album, with the song “Gospel mio” sung by Richie Havens. 1986 is the year of release of one of his best-known works, “SOS Brothers”, which contains the historic “Soul Express” and “Black Out”, whose remix version won a prize in Ibiza for the best dance song of the year. In 1988 he published “Alto Voltaggio”, in which he reiterate the presence of his love for funk, with a collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa, that will bring to the creation of the album “Street Happiness”. In devising his music the singer-songwriter has never been affected by commercial logic. In 1994 he released “Easy” where he puts in music the poem ” ‘A livella” by Toto, and where in “Leave me or love me” he sang with Randy Crawford. On that time, the record company EMI saddled him with the label of “artist unmanageable”, because he refused to participate in the Festival of Sanremo. In the same year he participated to the Pistoia Blues Festival. Since 2004, his records’ covers have been signed by the anthropologist Marino Niola. In 2009 he won the Italian Targa Tenco for the best record in Neapolitan dialect, with the album “Napoletana” released the same year.
Last year, in the television show “Sottovoce ” by Gigi Marzullo , Enzo said:
<< As a boy, my dreams were simple: learn to play the saxophone and meet the artists who I listened thanks to the jukebox . >>
<< The word is already music, and I like to get there with the music where the words do not come, and vice versa. There is a mantra in our Neapolitan dialect. I hope to make music but to also say something, conveying my thoughts through the music.>>
<< Naples and Marianella are the ‘Mother home’ to me, when I am back in Naples there are certain conditions, fundamental states of consciousness, which in my opinion are to be linked to certain things, because for me the (cultural) contamination is very important, but I think it is fundamental the recovery of our cultural identity. >>
<<Mine can be defined as ‘World Music’, but I wanted to borrow from the greats artists of the past the ability to move inside any form, to go over the same shape, to create new forms, which do not really have a form… this seems to be a pun, but it is a return to pure music, one that goes beyond labels.>>
<< I can define myself a loner among people, like all of us. ‘Chi nun cunosce ‘o scuro nu po’ capì a luce, nisciuno s’ape ‘a nato, ognuno è sulo’. If loneliness is introspection and constant contact with our interior, it becomes something that you live even in the tumult of everyday life, but if it becomes marginalization, it becomes a different thing. No longer a choice but a condition. >>
<< I am a street intellectual and I like if the street generates intellectuals. I am a man of everyday, but a thinking being. >>
<< The music joins and saved the world. So many times, like John Lennon, Jim Hendrix, James Brown, Bob Marley, Giovanni Pergolesi or Stravinsky have did. >>
The last Avitabile’s record, released last year, is titled “Black Tarantella”, which like the previous one has won the Targa Tenco, while the song “Gerardo nuvola ‘e Povere”, won the Amnesty Award Italy. As he says, is a particular recording that gets nothing to do with the words Black or Tarantella, but wants to be a tribute to the allegorical synonymy of recent years. Tarantella is the symbol of the Made in Italy, our original sound of the south, but we Neapolitans use this term to also mean something different, as we sometimes use the term black (meaning a lack of a way out) to indicate a hope, a chance. With this record I wanted to simply explore the double meaning of words and music.
(Meeting with Africa Bambaataa in the Bronx, then they came to Marianella and together they made a video for the district Scampia)