Shadows and Fragments
With “Shadows and Fragments” Luca Burgalassi wants to bring his own original songs, all written and arranged by him, on tour, live, together with other blues and jazz traditionals. A musical trip down history lane uniquely interpreted by Luca Burgalassi and his band. We have conducted an interview with him.
Which genre is your album “Shadows and Fragments” belongs to? How long did you take to produce it?
“Shadows and Fragments” is a sort of concept album, with ten new original songs, all written, arranged, played, sung and recorded by myself. The genre is a colorful mix of folk, country, blues, jazz and rock influenced themes. The songs are in English, almost completely “unplugged”, and recorded with live acoustic instruments, including acoustic guitars and folk instruments.
“Shadows and Fragments” is a sort of passage through my life, from past to present, and that is also the meaning of the album cover. Many of the songs had been written years ago, and left, unfinished, on an old pad, until I decided to pick them up again, breathe new life into the words, rejuvenate old tracks, and compose anew the shadows and fragments that have accompanied me through the years…"
“Shadows” and “Fragments” are in fact the two title tracks and they are the first and last songs of the album. Between these two, the album contains different portraits in different styles. “Dust and Rust” where the atmosphere moves from a country finger-picking sound on an old baritone guitar to a more southern Cajun and gipsy style. “Dark Cherries and Wine”: a dreamy ballad rich of flashback images; “Orange Rooms”, inspired by the life of Amedeo Modigliani, recounting the last days of his life in Paris and his relationship with his hometown Livorno. “Lord Randal”, an original version of a Traditional Scottish medieval ballad composed by Luca Burgalassi, guest starring the English singer Wendy Nieper (Swingle Singers).Two acoustic blues numbers, “Highs and Lows” and “Starless Night Blues”; the English folk-rock/Celtic sound of “Shipwreck” and the instrumental track “34, Orange Road”, with finger-picking guitar in Open D tuning.
When did you start studying music? What are the backgrounds of your band members?
I started playing relatively young: I was 6 when I touched my first guitar. At the beginning it was more a game then a real study. I started writing and performing live by the age of 12. At that time, I started studying music in parallel with the school. Later I graduated in acoustic guitar and I’ve continued to undertake advanced studies in different styles under the supervision of musicians like the acoustic finger-picking guitarist Franco Morone, Armando Corsi, Steve Trovato, and Mike Sterne. In parallel with my engineering studies, I also started to study folk and country blues techniques, experimenting with open tunings and learning how to play traditional folk instruments, such as: Lap Steel guitar, Banjo, Dobro, Mandolin and harmonica. I have taken part in many different projects and productions, releasing four albums exploring the great American songwriters and West Coast music and performing live at festivals and theaters throughout Italy and abroad.
I am proud to have with me these extraordinary musicians, all of them with a long career and experience, with a strong musical background in classical, jazz and rock blues environment. Franco Ceccanti: classical, jazz and blues/rock guitar player and cellist, Nino Pellegrini: jazz double-bass player with lots of international collaborations; Ettore Fancelli: eclectic drummer and percussionist with a long Classical, Jazz and Rock background. Stefano Lunardi: classic, ethnic and jazz violin performer. Silvia Cercignani a versatile elegant and powerful singer, with experience in different styles from Pop/Rock to Blues/Jazz and Bossa.
What kind of instruments does your band play?
The structure of the band, during the live performances, reflects the acoustic sound of the album, with the acoustic guitar and vocals as the main base, enriched by the vocal harmonies and surrounded by the clean electric guitar and the violin arrangements; supported by the rhythmic background of a minimal and essential drum, together with the double bass.
What influences your kind of music? Who are your favorite musicians?
My musical background is really wide and open. I’ve listen to almost every kind of music. I am fond in particular of all the folk roots and the use of evocative folk instruments merged in a modern sound. I like the medieval ballads and Irish tunes, I also like some American country music; and of course many black music, from the plantation blues through the swing of the 20’s and the Jazz of the 40’s.
As a guitar player, I like many guitar players, mainly those who are also songwriters and a bit out of the box. I love Robert Johnson, Jimy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani, Robben Ford, and among the songwriters I love a lot all the old American generation like Neil Young, David Crosby, Paul Simon, and James Taylor.
How do you achieve this 'completely ''unplugged'' kind of music'? What is your secret to the 'texture'?
Shadows and Fragments is mainly an intimate album, built upon shades of memories and pieces of the past. My idea was to create this atmosphere using clean acoustic instruments, recorded via microphone in the most natural way, with the minimum use of effects, without software sampled sounds or synth or other. I wanted to give to this album the warmness of the wooden instruments and a taste of vintage, even when the arrangements become more complex with the use of multiple instruments. That’s why I’ve chosen minimal drums, double-bass instead of electric bass, and only clean vintage sounds for the electric guitars. Then I tried to build a stringed instrument texture with a role for each of them: nylon and steel stringed guitars, 12 strings, electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, resonator guitar.
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