Marco Pignataro's Dream Alliance

Release Date: April 1, 2022
UPC Code: 880956220222
Availability: Worldwide
Selection #: ZM 202202

1. Send One Your Love 6:01
Stevie Wonder
2. Resilience of Light 1:35
Marco Pignataro
3. Stand By Me 4:33
Leiber, Stoller, Ben E King

4. Naked Absence 1:34
Marco Pignataro
5. Farfallina 7:25
Marco Pignataro
6. Still Winter 2:08
Marco Pignataro
7. Alone Again Naturally 7:07
Gilbert O’Sullivan

8. I Caught A Reflection Of Me 4:49
Marco Pignataro
9. Because 3:25
Lennon, McCartney

10. Ode To The Wounded Clouds 4:03
Marco Pignataro, Chase Morrin, Kenny Werner
11. Inspiration
Kenny Werner 4:56
12. Moon Threads Prologue: At Night 4:44
Marco Pignataro

Marco Pignataro
- soprano, alto & tenor sax
Kenny Werner - piano, backing vocals
Nadia Washington - vocals, guitar
Devon Gates - bass, vocals

Track 1 arranged by Nadia Washington & Marco Pignataro
Track 3 arranged by Devon Gates
Tracks 5, 7, 9, 10, 11 arranged by Chase Morrin

Recorded at: a virtual live concert at Boston’s GBH Fraser Studio in July 2021.
Recorded and mastered by: Antonio Oliart. Photography: Francesco Gargiulli.
Art direction and Package Design: Jack Frisch. Executive Producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker.

Publishing: EMI April Music Inc. o/b/o Jobete Music Co. Inc. and EMI April Music Inc. o/b/o
Black Bull Music (1); Marco Pignataro (2, 4-6, 8, 10, 12); Sony/ATV Songs LLC (3); EMI Blackwood
Music Inc. (7); Sony/ATV Tunes LLC dba ATV o/b/o ATV (Northern Songs Catalog) (9); Grow Your Own
Music o/b/o Vlad Music and SABAM (11).

Marco Pignataro plays D’Addario reeds, Mauriat tenor saxophonesand Lupifaro Soprano Saxophones.

On Marco Pignataro’s previous ZOHO album, Almas Antiguas – an acclaimed 2018 encounter with old masters Alan Pasqua, Eddie Gomez and Adam Cruz – the Bologna-bred master saxophonist-composer celebrated his Mediterranean roots with a program that told, as he put it then, “a story of love” in notes and tones.

On Awakening, which documents a virtual live concert at Boston’s GBH Fraser Studio in July 2021, sponsored by JazzBoston, Pignataro meditates on the eternal subject of romantic love from a different angle. He showcases another stream of artistic expression, scripting a narrative that merges his intensely contemplative, metaphor-rich English-language poems with iconic songs from the canons of pop music from America and the British Isles and original material.  It’s cliche to call presentations like this “beyond category,” but that’s what Awakening is. That said, if an editor demanded a description, I’d call the proceedings highest-level chamber jazz, lyrical, melody-rich, harmonically sophisticated, masterfully executed, containing elements drawn from classical, gospel and opera, animated by a sensibility that embodies Wayne Shorter’s manifesto, “the past is the flashlight for the future.” 

Shorter’s aesthetics are the lodestar of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI) at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where Pignataro has served as Managing Director since 2009. With help from BGJI alumnus Chase Morrin, he scored the music for a multi-generational, inter-racial group of Berklee colleagues – iconic pianist-composer Kenny Werner, then 69, who contributes his Grammy-winning song, Inspiration; pellucidly soulful 30-something vocalist Nadia Washington, who also contributes on guitar; and 20+ bassist-vocalist Devon Gates, who harmonizes divinely with Nadia and anchors the flow with resonant tone and unfailing beat.

“On Almas Antiguas I saw myself as much a singer as a saxophone player, and here I’ve harmonized as the third voice, not just two voices and a saxophone,” Pignataro says. “I want to return to the old tradition of “singing" beautiful melodies through the horn, as master story tellers such as Lester Young and Stan Getz did. Kenny’s ability to improvise a palette of harmony and colors and his vast experience in drummer-less duo settings with so many singers and saxophonists – and with Toots Thielemans – makes him the perfect pianist for this group.”

You’ll find the text of each poem in the booklet jacket; it seems redundant to opine much on the tracks – anyway, Pignataro strives to create “ambiguity” in his artistic expression.  But there are metaphysical threads. Stevie Wonder’s Send One Your Love, which Washington OWNS, reminds Marco of the Italian poet Alda Merini who said, “romanticism is not about giving roses but cultivating roses.” Stand By Me reflects “importance of love and hope” during the turbulent chaos of the Covid era. The original arrangement transforms the forgotten 70s anthem Alone Again (addressed here in 7/4) into a stark account of “total loss.” 

Pignataro regards his poem, I Caught A Reflection of Me, as a “hymn to romantic love & existential love, or love for God, where you experience this sense of love that takes your breath away, so intense, so transformational that transcends you from the reality.” The theme of existential love, in his view, infuses the lyric of John Lennon’s Because – “the idea of Nature and God, of total abandonment to a bigger love, our capacity to connect to this energy.” 

“I see myself as a Neoromantic,” he says. “I feel that a lot of modern jazz is moving away from introspection, from using lyrical melodies as a way of telling human stories. Here and on Almas Antiguas, I deliberately take a different direction. I’m trying not to repeat anything that has been done, and create a personal sound with these timeless ideas, with music that has little to do with what everybody else is doing. Personally, I see myself as a storyteller and as a musician, this is what really inspires me.”
Ted Panken

“I think it is time to acknowledge that Marco’s music has reached the level of his heart”.
Kenny Werner

Awakening! What is the breaking point of solitude? The essence of life as a single soul roaming through herds of others, as in a congested highway where hundreds of people are imprisoned in the same space without ever connecting, unless by randomness of glances, waves, insults or accidents. The ocean suggests a different image, where water engulfs and connects lands and underworlds, skies and shores, salt and sand, days and nights, stars and earth.

Whereas we are all one entity; whereas our spirits melt in an ever-changing counterpoint of souls, creating spontaneous harmonies full of incomprehensible and astoundingly mysterious consonances and dissonances, tones and shapes, tensions and releases and unimaginable joys and sorrows. Each chord and tone having a sense only in relation to what chords and tones preceded and follows next; yet, never just quite complete in itself -no matter how lush or unique.

As the “Master Composer”, our Creator knows why and how to shape His masterpiece, unknowingly from its notes forming chords and melodies that will resonate infinitely with each other, even when they will be not sharing the same measures, cadences or even key centers. I am stubbornly certain that life itself is God’s most breathtaking and bittesweet love song ever made. That is how I wish my music to sound like.

Marco Pignataro

Resilience of Light
Resilience of light, channeling each breath and memory through the displacement of place and time. Each season passing brings back the same rain and the same wind to the same eternal ocean of truth. Sleep walking across the maze of translucent clouds, the days feel weary from searching and falling. Be still as we trace our spirits through the valley of the ancient melody. The light doesn’t ever falter, but I don’t recognize the surroundings anymore; I will keep holding your hand since I’m too afraid to let go.

Naked Absence
I nested a bright rainbow
on a vessel made of shells
and watched it sail away 
until all I could glimpse  
was the lonely reflection
of its naked absence

Farfallina (Little Butterfly) 
Are you gliding, butterfly?
you draw circles in my mind
You left a winter behind 
A long and painful goodbye
And you flew away in the sky
Are you hiding, butterfly?
Are your wings too sore to fly?
Those dreams we shared in the clouds 
Where we could never be found
Are now still a reason to cry?

Those thoughts you hold in your heart
No matter where you fly they’ll never die
Hold those dreams my little butterfly  
And fly
No matter where the wind will blow
These tears will flow
The heart will sore 
Dear butterfly
There’re no goodbyes 
Up in the sky, my dear butterfly 
Are you smiling butterfly?
No more lies 

Still Winter
Here is the path of hundred poems
to words chanting to gods 
of winter winds and rivers 
Stems of clouds 
Dew and dust 
Lovesick tree roots
Piercing down 
to the center of earth, 
like invisible threads 
to the depths of the universe 
Such a long pungent silence 
traces these lonely stars 
These days after nights 
of days in tears
building unrelentingly
the walls of sunless solitude,
Like raptured desires of light
Still winter, 
stumbled upon
agreed upon 
remembered upon 
as we are running away from time 
with blue poems echoing within 

I Caught A Reflection of Me 
I caught a reflection of me
A dipping forceful wave
then undercurrent streams of self
Glimpses without time
A whirlwind of consciousness 
Melancholy of being 
yearning gratitude 
fullness of soul 
Love so overwhelming 
my heart could stop breathing

Ode to the Wounded Clouds
When fall presage returns, 
its dim colors mourn under the pale skin
as unfinished melodies of spring. 
The wounded clouds suspend their forced exile into a slow timid embrace, 
as they hear in tears and deep bliss the turn of the world. 
It’s the love that started this universe, 
which shaped moons, stars and all flowers on earth,
the heartbeats of heaven and angels, 
through rivers of birds 
moving and breathing as one. 
It’s the light found at dawn,
the unforeseen gift of life 
into moments unfolding.
Like undying oaths to dream, 
our hands will reach out dormant 
into the clouds wounded chest and 
not a single breath will ever go unnoticed.

At Night
At night, I can clearly hear the soundscapes within silence, the crystal ring of restless and relentless migrations of winters, pale moonshines and shadows. The silhouette of the past has a remote frequency inaudible to the ears, which pounds and vibrates loudly within each heartbeat. And within every pulse of emotion, there is a veil of eternity that envelops the soul and the memory into parallel streams of being. At night, I can hear the turn of the world and the escaping light of the universe. It is the space and the stillness between sleep and wakefulness, where dreams and reality vibrate in unison and eternity.

All poems by Marco Pignataro