Benni is renowned for his readings, drawing big Italian crowds. Theatralia Jazz Festival also presents a number of free events at the Italian Cultural Institute London and The Italian Bookshop, before the main festival, including workshops, music nights and a book presentation from Stefano Benni. It brings together Italian and British jazz with theatre and features performances by renowned writers and musicians. Alison Bentley interviewed her by email. London Jazz News: First, on Mon. How did you meet, and what kind of music will you be playing? Filomena Campus: The opening of the festival will be a brand new project with female musicians and composers called 4 Njanas with Laura Cole piano , Tori Handsley harp and Ruth Goller bass.
They are all band leaders themselves. We often feel under-represented as women in the worlds of jazz and art, and in this project all compositions are inspired by a female artist such as Frida Kahlo, Niki de Saint Phalle, Gertrude Stein, Franca Rame and many more or written by a woman composer.
Filomena Campus’ spellbinding Monk homage at Theatralia Jazz Fest
It is also a homage to Wyatt himself, who has given his blessing to our Njanas project- something we are extremely proud of. A flexible ensemble that will be different every time! LJN: Also on the 9th of Nov. Paolo Fresu and British tuba-player Oren Marshall will be duetting?
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FC: It will be premiere of two international stars in an unusual duo: trumpet and tuba. Paolo is such a famous star in Italy and the rest of Europe- he tours around the world non-top and I hope this will be an occasion for the London jazz audience to discover his unique sound. LJN: Tues 10th Nov. How did Italian poetry and British jazz come together? Benni is one of the most important writers in Italy- his books have been translated into many languages.
He is also an amazingly entertaining performer with an incredible sensitivity for jazz music and rhythms, so that he becomes another jazz instrument on stage with us, performing his texts in Italian and in English. There will be some new poems written for this occasion, including a totally crazy duet for myself and Cleveland Watkiss. LJN: Wed. That text is the reason why I met him- I fell in love with that monologue because it represents the perfect fusion of jazz and theatre, so important in my work.
I translated, adapted and directed Misterioso with my theatre company Theatralia at the Riverside Studios in , featuring some of the best jazz musicians in the UK. We also toured in Edinburgh, England and Italy. In recent years I have received so many requests about doing Misterioso again, not only from the audience but also from the musicians themselves.
What other events have you added this year? This will be at the Italian Cultural Institute to present the third edition of the festival to the Italian and British media. The second night of Theatralia Jazz Festival was a great success. Titled England vs. Italy, the performance on 10th November was a mix of reading and music, jazz and literature. The show started with God Save the Queen, a poem inspired to the famous UK hymn, recited by renowned Italian writer Stefano Benni, accompanied by Filomena Campus, singer — also organiser of the festival — followed by a piece about Shakespeare.
They continued with One Hand Jack, a nice satirical story of gangsters and the city underworld. Jack has one only arm but will become the best bass player in town — here on stage interpreted by Dudley Philips.
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Unmissable in almost every show of Campus is The Queen of the Clown, which turned in pure jazz improvisation, in a continuous musical phrase between Fresu pianist Steve Lodell. The tune is originally written in the dialect of Genoa but was translated in Italian. Notable rhythmic are by drummer Rod Youngs. Improving every year, Filomena Campus continues her excellent investigation about music and theatre, experimenting on new forms.
The show is poised between theatre and music, with eminent artists and great music. Filomena Campus is a jazz vocalist and theatre director, and these two souls are united in the show, giving it an uncommon hint. Formerly running My Jazz Islands festival, Campus started Theatralia festival in , in an attempt to amalgamate her Sardinian roots with British and Italian styles.
Theatralia Jazz Festival returned for the third year from 9th to 11th November The first evening presented Campus new project, 4Njanas, a new female-only group led by Filomena Campus herself, followed by trumpeter Paolo Fresu and tuba player Oren Marshall. The third evening presented an adapted jazz version of the theatre production Misterioso about jazz legend Thelonious Monk, here interpreted by Cleveland Watkiss alongside music performed by Robert Mitchell, Orphy Robinson, Dudley Phillips, Jean Toussaint and Filomena Campus.
It also celebrated the centenary of the birth of Billie Holliday. She was a student at Nuoro, a beautiful town in the middle of Sardinia. I started a jazz masterclass in this town in I was the director, and it was a fantastic experience. We had students from Sardinia, from Italy, and from other European countries. I was there for around 25 years, with fifteen professionals, with lessons on improvisation technique, ensemble work, arrangements and the history of jazz.
Filomena studied here for two or three years, maybe fifteen years ago. We stayed in touch with her, and she decided to move to London. A few years ago, she asked me to be part of the Festival. I also wrote the liner notes to the last two records. This year I will play as a duo with Oren Marshall tuba on the Monday night, which will be amazing.
He was a part of my Brass Bang! Oren is a fantastic player and a nice person, and the relationship between us is very good. I am very excited to share the stage with him. On Tuesday I will play with the writer, Stefano Benni. He is a very famous writer, and sometimes we have put on a special performance together, with him reading part of his books, and me playing in the background with electronic effects.
I started playing in a marching band at first, when I was around eleven years old. Then I played for many years in a wedding band, and in fiestas in Sardinia, where I would play covers of artists like Stevie Wonder and popular Italian singers. I discovered jazz in the mids. I studied in Sienna, where there is an important Jazz National Seminar, in the early s, and became a professional jazz musician in I was very lucky, because in the s and s, there were not many young trumpet players in Italy.
The last one was Enrico Rava, of course, but before that, the only trumpet players played with orchestras and on radio broadcasts. It started with Miles, of course, and then Chet Baker. I also listen to three or four European musicians, including Enrico Rava, whose style was closer to my own — melodic and simple, Mediterranean and therefore easy for me to understand. Then another one was Kenny Wheeler.
But that was not easy, because the technique of Kenny was amazing. I made one record with him when I was very young, and I was very proud to play with him. But Miles Davis and Chet Baker were the masters. The difference between them was that Miles was an incredible trumpet player, but also an incredible artist. He discovered new talent, and was always looking ahead, at different styles — mixing jazz with rock, recording with an orchestra, like Porgy And Bess , etc.
He opened many, many doors. Chet was also a fantastic player, and an immense poet — a fine singer too. But Miles was also innovative and creative as an artist — he was like Pollock in contemporary art, and Fellini in the movies. But we need both — we need people like Chet and like Miles. He asked me to come into the studio to record an album for ECM. We had not toured before, so it was not like with Carla. We are planning another tour now, which will start in Tickets are available from the Pizza Express Jazz Club.
Lo scrittore Stefano Benni e il trombettista Paolo Fresu, due grandi artisti italiani, ciascuno nel proprio campo, insieme sul palcoscenico di un famoso jazz club di Londra per una tre giorni di musica, poesia e parole. Un adattamento che contiene anche un omaggio a Billie Hollyday, celebrandone il centenario della nascita. E ora Londra li aspetta, scrive la rivista Time Out , come un appuntamento da non perdere. Enrico Franceschini.
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La Repubblica. UK singer Watkiss is now back with Benni in One Hand Jack, which raises the question: how do you feel about the idea of God being black? Huge audiences hang devotedly upon his every pronouncement. Theatralia Vocal workshop open to singers and performers who would like to improve their improvisation and vocal skills as well as stage presence.
The ensemble will work on songs inspired by Thelonius Monk. Some of the participants may be selected to perform at the Theatralia Jazz Festival special evening at the Institute on 6th November! Paolo Fresu: award winner, internationally acclaimed Sardinian trumpet player has performed around the world over the past 30 years, with a track record of recordings. Fresu is also professor and artistic director of internationally renowned jazz festivals such as Time in Jazz.
Fresu is based in Paris, Bologna and Sardinia.
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