W. Mann - D. Baker - B. Brozman - E. Gerhard - M. Gatti in "Donna Lombarda"

Donna Lombarda è un progetto condiviso du alcuniaritisti - musicisti che hanno partecipato ad una rassegna di incontri musicali che dal 2002 si tiene presso l’Hospice Casa Madonna dell’Uliveto a Montericco di Albinea durante i quali si sono realizzate delle sedute di registrazioni di arrangiamenti originali, da loro composti, ispirati alla musica tradizionale italiana degli Appennini. Per individuare il repertorio di questo cd essenziale è stata la collaborazione con l'Archivio Etnomusicologico «Giorgio Vezzani-Il cantastorie» . Una volta individuato il repertorio è stato naturale per Duck Baker, Bob Brozman, Ed Gerhard e Woody Mann adattarli e rifarli rivivere nella loro sensibilita'. Stiamo infatti parlando di artisti raffinati interpreti della chitarra acustica, che nel corso della loro carriera hanno intrapreso strade molto diverse sviluppando un proprio stile inconfondibile e originale di composizione ed esecuzione e di Massimo Gatti, uno dei migliori interpreti europei del mandolino, che ha affiancato ciascun musicista per un duetto. Grazie alla generosità di questi artisti il ricavato delle vendite verrà totalmente devoluto alla Fondazione Madonna dell’Uliveto che sostiene l’Hospice.

In the autumn of 2002, that same group of friends who two years earlier had founded the hospice Casa Madonna dell'Uliveto in Montericco Albinea, in the foothills to the south of Reggio Emilia, hit upon the idea of organizing a seires of events, musical and otherwise, which was to be called Phos Hilaron, meaning light of joy in Greek.

Our goal was to share not only with the sick and their families, but with whoever wanted to listen to us, our profound belief the sickness and pain should not necessarily become a barricade around those who suffer, a barrier of sadness, solitude and isolation. We were convinced, and are even more so today, that even at such difficult times, room can be made for moments of serenity, of enjoyment and peace with our own fragile and transitory nature.

Thus, over these last few years, one Sunday afternoon every month, this initiative has come to life, thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of Italian and foreign musicians, artists, and intellectuals.

This was the context in which this project was conceived, then shared with a small group of American musicians who took part in Phos Hilaron. The concerts given at the Casa Madonna dell'Uliveto were followed by a recording session of original arrangements, composed by the musicians themselves, and inspired by the traditional music of the Apennines, the very area in which the hospice is situated.

The majority of the chosen songs were made available by the Ethnomusicological Archive "Giorgio Vezzani - Il cantastorie" thanks to the help of Bruno Grulli. The musicians approached this traditional music as novices from different cultures, but inspired by curiosity and with an extraordinary ability to listen and capture the similarities of differing musical worlds.

Duck Baker, Bob Brozman, Ed Gerhard and Woody Mann, sophisticated interpreters of the acoustic guitar, have all taken different directions in the course of their carriers, each developing his own unmistakable and original style of composition and performance.

Duck favoured free jazz and Celtit music, Bob, with his resonators, old time music and blues, Woody original blues and contemporary jazz, Ed the melody through open tunings and acoustic slide guitar.

They were asked to listen to ancient and more recent melodies, typically played ( although less and less frequently ) at weddings or village fairs in the Apennines and to choose freely the pieces they found most inspiring and to create a totally free arrangement without any philological intent.

Donna Lombarda was the only exception right from the very beginning. As this song is symbolic in Italian folklore, we decided, as jazz players tend to do, to take this as our standard: a piece well enough known to be at once common ground and a means of comparison.

Over the past five yers, in the silence of a house on our mountains, we have explored, listened and recorded the same tune many times over in order to achieve for each musician virtually identical technical and emotional recording conditions. Thanks to the generosity of the artists involved, the proceeds o this cd will go entirely to the Madonna dell'Uliveto Foundation, which maintains the hospice.

The melodies on this record will remain for us a joyful reminder of the extraordinary experience it has been to have had the opportunity to create a bond between human and musical sensitivity, intense yet diverse, united not only by common enthusiasm and love of music, but also by a true sense of human solidarity.

( Massimo Gatti and Luigi Maramotti )