Do you know that moment when it’s you and a list of artists that are going to perform in you-name-it what type of festival? I usually look carefully at it trying to guess if any of those listed could became an encounter when the time comes and they will be on the stage, performing, and me, down on a chair, as a spectator. This encounter is that kind of an impact which gives me reason to keep experiencing art. To encounter. To collide with. To crush into. This is how I relate myself to this. The first time I understood it was at a concert of Gilad Atzmon, in 2005. For me, in that particular moment, it all vanished in the world but the music, the sound. That sound coming from the stage. And then, after 6 years, it happened again at a theatre spectacle. A French one, “The reunification of the two Koreas”. That was mind-blowing, you could laugh while crying and cry in the middle of laughing. And feel all the cruelty of emotions, and the way the actors lived the stories, in front of you. This year, again, happened to me with not such a notorious band. But is was jazz again. And a sax again. Reading the program didn’t give me any clue of that. Nevertheless, looking at one video among the few videos Ophir Trio has on youtube, I felt it will be not bad. It was a video of one of their performances at Musicafoscari Jazz Fest, Venice. It was all about 5 seconds at the beginning of the video where Jacopo just opened the gates of some other dimensions and entered there while we were witnessing it. Or, at last, this is how I saw it. Because, if there are any certainties in music, or arts what-so-ever, that would be it is all about individual experience. And no matter what the author wanted to say, in the end, it is you and the object of art. That is the ultimate meaning of it.
The boys brought power on Sibiu Jazz Competition stage, some sweet madness and an unusual type of communication between their instrument while jazz intertwined with noise.
They met during an improvisation workshop led by the philosophy professor (and trumpet player) Daniele Goldoni at Ca’Foscari theatre in Venice. During the workshop they explored free improvisation and contemporary compositions (for example the music of Pauline Oliveros). Jacopo Giacomoni started playing the saxophone due to his parents encouragements as they where jazz lovers. Marco Centasso begun to play music when he was a child, during a holiday with his parents at more or less 6, 7 years old. he found a big white piano in the main hall of the hotel, started to play totally freely as it was his first time with a musical instrument. When they come back to Venice, his mother signed him up in a music school. Raul Catalano started because his father is a collector of musical instruments and when he saw drums, well, he is kind of going crazy. His father also took him very often at jazz concerts.
But here is what Jacopo has to say about…himself in general.
They say art, in the sense of doing anything related to it, is a reward in itself. How do you see this? Is singing its own reward? And don’t you seek other rewards by doing it?
Jacopo Giacomoni : Playing together could be seen has a reward or a moment where you can feel the pleasure of what you’ve studied. Saying that art is a reward implies that you struggle for something and that, in the end, the piece of art is what should remunerate your efforts. That could be one interpretation. But art could also be something meaningful by itself, the performance itself could be a relief or a fight or a nightmare. It’s optimistic to think that art is always a reward; sometimes it seems more like a robbery.
As a dramatist, what are you looking for and how did you end up doing that too?
Jacopo Giacomoni: In theatre I’m always interested in creating new structures, rules where performers and audience could live a meaningful experience. I like hybrid dramatic structures that are open to the unknown. I don’t perceive dramaturgy simple as a text that someone has to “say”. I want the audience to feel that the performance is unique and honest, and that its own role is fundamental in the performance.
Do you have a story you would tell about anything you ever composed or put into scene..something worth being told, something like a revelation or fun?
Jacopo Giacomoni: In Ophir trio sometimes we have a collective way of composing and the same happens with my theatre company. That means that I (or the other members) could spend a lot of time at home by myself thinking about the composition, reading, studying, and then proposing ideas to the others, but that the real moment of creation is when this material is re-elaborated by the group. Sometimes you strive alone to reach something that never arrives, but then, during the practice, during the collective free movement inside a structure, that thing arrives and seems much easier than ever. This is not a story about a revelation, because I don’t believe in revelations in the creation process. There are solutions that keep escaping, stupid intuitions that keep turning, brilliant idea that you are not studying, ingenious choices that you keep ignoring, easy choices you keep making, but there’s no revelation. Sorry, I’m not the kind of guy with the cool anecdotes.
What about collapsing traditions? I remember this phrase you used while talking to you after the concert.
Jacopo Giacomoni: I like that concept: collapsing traditions. I’d also like to know what that means. Every interesting concept in art, after a while, seems just a bunch of words. Anyway, I think that it was connected with the concept of novelty. I’m personally obsessed by it, I hate to repeat things, and to be confused with someone else, it’s something that affects every aspect of my life. At the same time I realize that novelty is a chimera. That everything, even the most eccentric thing always had ancestors, and that repetition could be a virtue. But that’s it, even in its impossibility, I always feel that art should strive for novelty. Going back to tradition: tradition is often the novelty that becomes standardized and accepted. Certain artists find their way in reproducing a fixed type of form and I think there’s a sort of relief in it: you put yourself in a safe space and the road is known – it could be a difficult path, with a lot of competition, but you know what’s there at the end of the journey. I prefer to think that art is always a matter of putting yourself in front of the unknown. It’s risky. You have a lot of forms, of traditions, but instead of integrating yourself into them, you try to make them collapsing, hoping to find your path. Usually, at a certain point, you discover that someone else, some time ago, was on the same path. And usually you discover that with these people you share the same approach to research.
And who do you trust when it comes to learning things in life, whether it is professional evolution or not, and how you identify the fake guru?
Jacopo Giacomoni: And that people are the one you trust. People more interested in the research process, then in themselves. That are honest in their choices and always question them. This kind of people are the opposite of a guru. A guru is someone who loves hierarchy, who loves to be adored and that has a “wonderful sacred hidden secret” that could be shared only with his greatest and intimate followers. That’s not how a great artist works. He knows that there is no such a secret. Art is not a special kind of magic where you need to handle some mysterious tricks. A good master is someone who doesn’t transform you into the copy of himself; it is someone who shares generously its method and helps you to search your own way.
The photos you can see in this article are from the personal archive of Marco Centasso, who is actually the photographer. You can see more of his work in photography here.