Busy Butterflies

Gianni Mimmo & Alison Blunt

Jan 2020


1. Busy Butterflies [20:30]
2. Ravenoville Plage [6:42]
3. Humble Sonata [5:14]
4. Dense-Dance-Evidence [5:49]
5. More Than One Turn [3:21]
6. Oracle’s Regret [2:39]   CD BONUS ONLY


Gianni Mimmo _ soprano saxophone
Alison Blunt _ violin

Music by Alison Blunt & Gianni Mimmo
Recorded on 6th May, 2019 at Chiesa di Santa Maria Gualtieri, Pavia, Italy
Sound Engineering, recording, mixing _ Lorenzo Sempio, Interplay Recording Studio, Milano, Italy
Mastering _ Maurizio Giannotti, New Mastering Studio, Milano, Italy
Cover artwork _ Ruth Van Haren-Noman “fortune-molik”, 2012, oil on canvas
Photo _ Stefano Galvani
Liner _ Daniel Barbiero
Graphics _ Nicola Guazzaloca
Production _ Gianni Mimmo for Amirani Records

Special thanks to Bruno Cerutti for his logistic support, Achille Gabba and Cecco Aroni Vigone for their intense listening and to Reciprocal Uncles in flesh and spirit without whom we might never have been inspired to collaborate.

The 180gr. Vinyl LP version of this album is available in a 100 hand-numbered copies limited edition.

Busy Butterflies

Gianni Mimmo & Alison Blunt - Ravenoville Plage by Amirani Records

Solar Ipse
Loris Zecchin

Emergono equilibri profondi dai tre quarti d’ora del disco di Gianni Mimmo e Alison Blunt, che se la intendono talmente bene da darti l’idea di essere un tutt’uno, più che due strumenti separati che ordiscono trame dalle rispettive sponde (lui, sax, lei violino). La scrittura free-form incontra i bagliori argentei di una musica da camera, lanciandosi in disquisizioni che si allungano e si accarezzano come in una sequenza di immagini random in bianco e nero. Un lavoro raffinato, non si può una critica che sia una.

Deep balances emerge from the three-quarters of an hour record by Gianni Mimmo and Alison Blunt, who are so well acquainted with each other that they give you the idea of being one, rather than two separate instruments that order plots from their respective sides (he saxophone, she violin). The free-form writing meets the silvery glow of chamber music, launching into disquisitions that stretch and caress each other as in a sequence of random black and white images. A refined work, one cannot criticise that one.

Musica Jazz
Alberto Bazzurro

... Undici giorni prima del duo con Lenoci, Mimmo aveva registrato, stavolta a casa sua (in realtà nella Chiesa di S. Maria Gualtieri), un altro tête-à-tête con la violinista anglo-keniana Alison Blunt, con cui aveva già inciso nel 2013 a casa di lei (una chiesa londinese...), l’ottimo “Lasting Ephemerals”. Le cose, anche stavolta, procedono per il meglio, perché il cd (allora era un lp) – diviso in sei episodi, l’ampia titletrack di oltre venti minuti più altri cinque brani ben più brevi – sfoggia un dialogare anche qui deciso e limpido, con le due voci per ragioni diremmo fisiologiche poste sullo stesso piano (anche per spettro timbrico), a generare un’opera di estremo rigore e consequenzialità, sempre nel segno dell’improvvisazione senza rete sostenuta da un senso della forma invidiabile.

Due cd, quindi, meritevoli di grande attenzione, oltre tutto ulteriormente impreziositi da copertine “gemelle”, di umore costruttivistico (russo), curiosamente, in realtà, desunte da opere realizzate da due artisti diversi a distanza di ben ottantacinque anni! Sic transit gloria mundi

Ken Waxman

Dual interpretations are explored at greater length on Busy Butterflies' six tracks, recorded four months later. Again like on the preceding CD, the 20½ minute title track explores the Italo-English partnership at its greatest length. Creating a jolly near-pastoral interface, Blunt dynamically pops her string set while Mimmo moves up the scale without losing the narrative centre. As the violinist’s speedy glissandi suggest romantic interludes, the saxophonist’s power puffs and swooping smears match the references until both lines join in double counterpoint of exceptional beauty. Then as they’ve proven their credentials as dual motif sweeteners, Mimmo and Blunt systematically begin splintering the narrative with spiccato bow shakes from the violinist and lower-pitched slurps from the saxophonist. Eventually they flatten the curve from broken chord exhibitions to tandem improvising without unnecessary spikes or dissolves, sandwiching each contribution into a satisfying whole. Ferocious reed whistles and clenched string sawing make their appearance throughout the other tracks. But even when such asides as sharp jumps and jitters on “Dense-Dance-Evidence” or multi-string kinetics and shrilling saxophone cries on “Ravenoville Plage” are heard, pealing kinetics ultimately unite timbres into a moderato, but still sophisticated connection.

Alone or as part of a larger unit, Mimmo and Blunt confirm their interrelation as improvisers and interpreters.

Bjarne Søltoft

This music takes me to places I rarely experience. It moves me to listen to the duo's playing based consistently on free improvisation, but it’s unusual that the melodic formations of the music gain space in a predominantly harmonious tonal universe. Two superb instrumentalists with high competence in the exploration of sound and with obvious ideas of what a sopranosax and a violin can create together – and without calculations or planned effects at the «home office». They practice the device "The music emerges while being  played."                                                                                                                                                                      Italian Gianni Mimmo has made the soprano saxophone his incessant and lifelong study, with the incitement of impro-masters such as Steve Lacy and Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton and the more melodic side of Mark Turner. Mimmo’s metier is the intellectual exploration of the formations and sonorous content of the tones. But his dazzling timbre and melodic-abstract playing evoke both emotions and reflections.                                                     The duo-partner Alison Blunt was born and raised in Kenya, which she left at a young age to put the classical education behind her and immerse herself in the noble art of improvisation in the British, musically free environment. Since 1993 she has been based in London and has played with the London Improvisers Orchestra, John Edwards, Vinny Golia, Phil Minton, Evan Parker and Mark Sanders, among many others. - Blunt makes a profound impression with her intense presence as she unfolds her carpet of repetitive tone series, which frame the universe of the music, including Mimmo's saxophone trips, as well as when she crosses his soprano in counterpoint dialogues and sonorous contrasts. And at times there is sorcery in her sound-excentric violin, organically evoked with growling and percussive and arco playing, as well as multiphony and overtones (listen to the primal-flute-like sound of the violin in the breathtaking Ravenoville Plage).                                                                                                    The opening of the record, with the long title-track, comes - through alternating phases of intensity and calm, introversion and expressiveness, harmonic folksy and abstract-melodic action - the compass around. Humble Sonata is a lyrically dialogical play with circulating figures. In More Than One Turn, "the busy butterflies" unfold with fiercely shimmering fluctuations in contrasting tone layers, and Oracle's Regret ends the list with Mimmo's strophic reflections in beautiful, anthemic harmony with Blunt's intricate tone mysteries.                                                                                                                                                       BUSY BUTTERFLIES is the duo's second release and is at least on level with the critically acclaimed LASTING EPHEMERALS at 2014. Gianni Mimmo and Alison Blunt keep an open-minded concept that legitimizes the improvisational disposal of all emerging elements, thus also melodious lines of tones and harmonic sounds. – Excellently done!

Point of Departure
Bill Shoemaker

Alexander von Schlippenbach’s remark that Evan Parker is John Coltrane’s best pupil is a bit ill-fitting, in that it discounts temperament and agenda, aspects that surpass considerations of materials as defining features of an improviser’s voice. Something of the same can be said of soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo in regards to Steve Lacy. Mimmo’s sound, his penchant for the well-pared motive, and his slant on the “‘magic’ order” cadence, is sometimes hauntingly reminiscent of Lacy. However, Mimmo’s sensibility is his own. It does not have the hardened modernist edge of Lacy’s, initially sharpened in mid-century New York. Mimmo has maturated in the fluid internationalism of post-Cold War European improvised music. Even when his tone ripened in his later years, there was a constant intellectual urgency at or near the surface of Lacy’s voice; arguably, the theme of his work. Mimmo’s improvisations frequently project a relatively unfettered conviviality.

Mimmo’s duo with violinist Alison Blunt is, arguably, the best forum to hear what distinguishes his playing, their first album, Lasting Ephemerals (2014; Amirani), setting a high bar they clear on Busy Butterflies. Duos are intrinsically conversational, but Mimmo and Blunt exude the easy fluidity of old friends who complete each other’s sentences, and know what the other will say next. Like Mimmo, Blunt has an unassuming command of her instrument; whereas other improvising violinists heavily foreground textures almost to the exclusion of all else, Blunt can spool out motives into long, flowing lines with a sense of melody unassociated with any idiom. When she deploys a smudged or scraped texture, it speaks to the moment with an off-handed crispness. Throughout the album, Mimmo and Blunt’s interplay is smart and supple, but to suggest a merging is a step too far, each having distinctive voices.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This recording is a timely reminder of the vividness improvised music can bring to an otherwise gray day.

Il Manifesto
Guido Festinese

Mimmo rinnova un altro eccellente sodalizio, quello con la violinista Alison Blunt già documentato in un precedente bel disco: li cogliete nelle sei concentratissime tracce che compongono il live Busy Butterflies, dal vivo a Pavia. 

Blow Up
Piercarlo Poggio

Senz' altro portato al faccia a faccia, Mimmo ha nella violinista Alison Blunt una controparte di acuta sensibilità e lo si era già intuito nel precendente "Lasting Ephemerals". Il loro connubio raggiunge qui nuovi traguardi, a cominciare dalla ventina di minuti della ipertesa title track, un'esplorazione in lungo e in largo, in alto e in basso, a sondare ogni possibilità dei rispettivi strumenti e a metterli in comunicazione. Resoconto di un concerto della stagione scorsa (chiesa di Santa Maria Gualtieri, Pavia), "Busy Butterflies" non vive di equilibri precari, passaggi a vuoto, stanche ripetizioni di formule esaurite: le composizioni istantanee del duo riescono a prendere ogni volta la direzione giusta, prive di incertezze. Un mezzo miracolo, di questi tempi. [7/8]

Certainly brought face to face, Mimmo has in the violinist Alison Blunt a counterpart of acute sensibility and this was already intuited in the previous "Lasting Ephemerals". Their union here reaches new goals, starting from the twenty minutes of the hypertensive title track, an exploration far and wide, up and down, to explore every possibility of their respective instruments and put them in communication. A report of a concert of last season (church of Santa Maria Gualtieri, Pavia), "Busy Butterflies" does not live on precarious balances, empty passages, tired repetitions of exhausted formulas: the duo's instant compositions manage to take each time the right direction, free of uncertainties. A half miracle, these days

Sands Zine
Mario Biserni

Quella fra Mimmo e la Blunt è una collaborazione oramai solidificata. Dopo un disco registrato nel 2013 alla St Leonards's Church di Londra (se non sbaglio si tratta dell’unico vinile pubblicato in precedenza dalla Amirani) la coppia si ripresenta con questo “Busy Butterflies” (sia in vinile sia in compact, quest’ultimo con un pezzo in più) registrato nel 2019 alla Chiesa di Santa Maria Gualtieri di Pavia. Usare il termine consolidato par essere addirittura riduttivo, dal momento che i mood dei due sembrano ormai giunti a completa fusione, cioè suonano come un tutt’uno, complici anche altri livelli collaborativi che li vedono coinvolti (quali il Sestetto Internazionale). Ecco che sax soprano e violino imbastiscono catene di intrecci armonici restando sempre indissolubilmente e perfettamente legati, al pari dell’idrogeno e dell’ossigeno nelle molecole dell’acqua agli stati solido, liquido e gassoso. Compatta, eterea o fluida, la musica così elaborata mantiene sempre una sua cristallina purezza e un alta gradazione emozionale. La stessa immagine scelta per la copertina, un olio su tela della pittrice belga Ruth Van Haren-Norman, mostra un universo artistico nel quale la geometria è piegata alla fantasia. Esiste il rischio, in una collaborazione a tal punto persistente, di impantanarsi nei cliché, ma i due lo dribblano ingegnosamente e mantengono sempre alta la bandiera della creatività. Talmente alta che, dopo averli visti giocare in casa dell’una e dell’altro, ci auguriamo anche un terzo incontro in campo neutro.

Phil Smith, poet and radio producer

Busy Butterflies
Something about the play of light
through the rooms of the house;
might be a life's work,
logging each shape and hue.

Risky to fly in a straight line
to arrow in on meaning; do we know
what we're talking about?
Will we dance around it too?

Phil Smith, poet and radio producer
April 29, 2020 Brighton,UK

Francesco Buffoli

Registrato nella chiesa di Santa Maria Gualtieri a Pavia, Busy Butterflies, è l’ennesimo salto nel vuoto di Mimmo, qui affiancato dalla violinista Alison Blunt. Il musicista si posiziona sempre al crocevia tra jazz sperimentale e avanguardia pura, sulla falsariga di quanto fecero tedeschi e inglesi negli anni ’60 e ’70 (come Evan Parker, Mimmo adora lavorare nelle chiese, per il particolare sound che consentono di ottenere). La title-track è una suite di 20 minuti che compatta una carriera: Mimmo è ora elastico, ora stridulo e Braxtoniano; Blunt avvicina la musica seriale e poi si cimenta con un campionario esteso di tecniche percussive. Nel complesso, l’opera sbalordisce per la RICCHEZZA DI IDEE.

Recorded in the church of Santa Maria Gualtieri in Pavia, Bus Butterflies is yet another jump into the void by Mimmo here flanked by violinist Alison Blunt. The musician is always at the crossroads between experimental jazz and pure avant-garde, along the lines of what the Germans and English did in the '60s and '70s (like Evan Parker, Mimmo loves working in churches, for the particular sound they allow). The title-track is a twenty-minute suite that compacts a career: Mimmo is now elastic, now shrill and Braxtonian; Blunt approaches serial music and then tries his hand at an extensive sample of percussive techniques. On the whole, the evening is astounding for the RICH OF IDEAS.


Για τον σοπράνο σαξοφωνίστα Gianni Mimmo, τον ιδιοκτήτη τής Amirani Records, έχουμε γράψει πολλές φορές στο δισκορυχείον. Στο πιο νέο άλμπουμ του, το “Busy Butterflies”, ο Mimmo (ξανα)συνεργάζεται με την βρετανή βιολίστρια (γεννημένη στην Μομπάσα της Κένυας) Alison Blunt. Είχε προηγηθεί το άλμπουμ τους “Lasting Ephemerals” το 2014 (υπάρχει review στο blog), με το “Busy Butterflies” να προσθέτει έναν ακόμη κρίκο στην προσωπική δισκογραφία τού καθενός, και βεβαίως στην κοινή τους.

Ο τίτλος του άλμπουμ “Busy Butterflies” (Πολυάσχολες Πεταλούδες) ανταποκρίνεται κατά μίαν έννοια στο άκουσμα, καθώς η διαρκής κινητικότητα των δύο οργανοπαικτών, ή των δύο οργάνων αν θέλετε, πιθανώς να συμβολίζει την, μέσω ζιγκ-ζαγκ, κινητικότητα των πεταλούδων – εκείνην την χωρίς εμφανή ειρμό κίνηση, που ενώ διαθέτει αυτό το απροσδιόριστα τρεμάμενο, είναι, ταυτοχρόνως, και τόσο ελκυστική.
Με προφανείς και σαφείς αναφορές στην σύγχρονη avant, τη μουσική δωματίου, την ευρωπαϊκή contemporary jazz και improv-jazz, οι δύο συνθέτες-αυτοσχεδιαστές συλλαμβάνονται, εδώ, «ζωντανοί» στην Chiesa di Santa Maria Gualtieri, στην Παβία της Ιταλίας, έναν ναό δηλαδή που χρονολογείται από τον 10ον μ.Χ αιώνα και ο οποίος μετατράπηκε σε στούντιο, προκειμένου να υποδεχθεί τους ήχους τού Mimmo και της Blunt.
Πέραν, λοιπόν, της διαρκούς κινητικότητας του παραγόμενου αποτελέσματος, εκείνο που διακρίνει την εγγραφή είναι, βασικά, ο μελωδικός προσανατολισμός της. Μπορεί τα δύο όργανα να μην αποτελούν ό,τι πιο σύνηθες σε μια ντούο-συνεργασία, όμως έχουν διακριβωθεί, από τους δύο συνεργάτες, όλα εκείνα τα κοινά πλαίσια, εντός των οποίων θα αναπτυχθούν οι ιδέες τους, με συνέπεια ό,τι παράγεται να ακούγεται με μιαν απόλυτη φυσικότητα.
Με σεμνές χρήσεις διαφορετικών timbre, κινούμενοι πάντα σε αργά και μεσαία tempi, και με γνώμονα την παραγωγή μιας μουσικής που να μην εκβιάζει το ρηξικέλευθο ή το εντυπωσιακό, οι Gianni Mimmo και Alison Blunt δίνουν ένα άλμπουμ υψηλής εσωτερικής ισορροπίας, που ελκύει μ’ έναν μάλλον αναμενόμενο τρόπο.

Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg

Gianni Mimmo a creusé son bonhomme de chemin avec son saxophone soprano et son remarquable label Amirani. Après avoir publié de nombreuses collaborations de collègues remarquables, son amirani se focalise sur ses meilleurs duos, parmi lesquels ses très gracieux échanges avec la violiniste Alison Blunt. J’ai déjà entendu des voix me dire que Gianni Mimmo était un « copiste » de feu Steve Lacy, lui-même le plus grand Monkien devant l’éternel. En fait, le travail musical de Gianni Mimmo se situe dans le prolongement de Steve Lacy et adopte une démarche plus étoilée assumant la spatialisation de la polytonalité lacyenne, assemblant les éléments du langage de Lacy avec une toute autre conception architecturale dont il assume complètement les choix. Lacy affirmait la découpe abrupte de la matière/son contre le silence avec la précision du couteau des plus grands peintres (de la « matière »), donnant le sentiment d’une expression granitique proche de la sculpture, la collision de ces deux éléments suggérant un rythme irrépressible. Mimmo incarne un oiseau chanteur qui approche doucement la branche de l’arbre ou volète face aux nuages créant un réseau aérien. L’expression d’une légèreté. Depuis quelques années, il favorise les duos volatiles avec des compagnons en phase tels Vinny Golia, Harri Sjöström, Ove Volquartz, Daniel Levin et surtout notre violoniste Alison (leur deuxième opus),  au travers desquels il définit son travail dans l’agilité aérienne, d’où le titre Busy Butterflies. En duo, Lacy s’est confronté à des contrebassistes (Maarten Altena, Kent Carter, JJ Avenel), des percussionnistes (Centazzo, Masa Kwaté) et des pianistes terriens (Mal Waldron, Michael Smith, Bobby Few) tel un Rollinsien caché. Bref, les raccourcis sont l’ennemi de la critique constructive. Alison Blunt et Gianni Mimmo ont trouvé un partenariat idéalement complémentaire à de nombreux égards, le son, les instruments de chacun, les phrases, la sensibilité, le jeu collectif, cette manière de voltiger, de s’élancer dans l’espace d’un commun accord jamais pris en défaut. Au fil des enregistrements de la violoniste, et cela se vérifie chez son comparse, on perçoit une mue, un aboutissement où la qualité musicale se pare d’une dimension poétique, évocatrice dans le jeu sur les timbres, les ficelles de la logique se métamorphosant en arabesques chatoyantes. Publié en vinyle en édition limitée et en CD !!

Percorsi Musicali
Ettore Garzia

(English Below)

Uno splendido impasto timbrico è quanto si comprende in Busy Butterflies, il secondo duetto discografico tra Gianni Mimmo ed Alison Blunt, realizzazione di un concerto effettuato nella Chiesa di Santa Maria Gualtieri di Pavia nel maggio dello scorso anno. l’iniziale title track è improvvisazione sintomatica e programmatica: Mimmo fa scorrere il suo soprano su un paio di modalità, una elastica e l’altra stridula, una giocata sull’allungamento melodico ed armonico e l’altra in costante funzionalità multifonica; in contrapposizione la Blunt tira fuori altre sue due modalità, un’esposizione austera ai confini con il seriale e l’altra giocata sulle tecniche estese picchiettando e percuotendo le corde; sono venti minuti eccellenti di musica, che risvegliano pensieri di compiacimento alla vita e alla sua movimentazione e allo stesso tempo immergono nella profondità dell’arricchimento interiore dovuta all’arte vera. I due sono “farfalle impegnate”, quelle che intercettano l’ispirazione della Ravenoville Plage in Normandia, che sposta il baricentro verso lavorazioni sonore dal sapore barocco; si scuote un pò la memoria del jazz, la pittura e l’invariabilità del tempo, ma è in Humble sonata che si perde persino il controllo storico, perché le alterazioni temporali sembrano non avere né geografia né posizione: specifiche dialogicità ed estensioni lavorano per un’improvvisazione universale, in cui il barocco musicale si confonde con una tensione taiwanese. La relativa calma che introduce More than one turn (opportunamente spazializzata nella registrazione) è un espediente per riaffermare il principio che tutta la musica ha una sua logicità, è fatta di passaggi che svolazzano sui concetti, sebbene sia tutto improvvisato. Qual è allora il significato del “rimpianto” dell’oracolo? Per che cosa si lagna sommessamente nel finale? L’oracolo pronostica, ma sul “rimpianto” ci conduce a pensare che la sua pronunzia sia l’effetto di un’esperienza irripetibile della vita e senza retorica ci sbatte in faccia la bellezza e la riuscita del percorso appena fatto: Mimmo e Blunt l’hanno avuto quel percorso, viaggiando nell’improvvisazione con le proprie armi e a diretto contatto, come nella bellissima similitudine di movimento creata in termini descrittivi da Daniel Barbiero nelle note interne “…two butterflies maintaining distinctive tracks even while traveling in the same direction together….“.

A continuous succession of timbral combinations is the main feature of Busy Butterflies, the second recorded duet between Gianni Mimmo and Alison Blunt, an exciting concert performed in the Church of Santa Maria Gualtieri in Pavia in May of last year. You can get an idea of what happens in this piece of improvisation from the beginning: the title track (the first track) is symptomatic of a transmission of events and indicative of a work in constant evolution: Mimmo plays the soprano sax in two ways of expression, one elastic and the other acute, where the first occurs with melodic and harmonious tones played on all the keys of the sax, while the second is a constant multiphonic functionality of his instrument; in contrast, Blunt's violin highlights two other types of expression, one an austere exposition at the borders of serial combinations and another played with extended techniques, by tapping and striking the strings; these are twenty excellent minutes of music, which awaken thoughts of satisfaction with life or thoughts that allude to its movement and, at the same time, are able to give us an inner, deep enrichment, the aim of true art. We must see the two musicians as "busy butterflies", two artists able to incorporate a special inspiration thanks to the beautiful ambience of Ravenoville Plage in Normandy, where the music evokes the thought of a center of gravity that shifts towards traces of Baroque sound; in this piece the memory of jazz, painting and the invariability of time return to dwell a little, but already the successive track, i.e. Humble Sonata, brings a new reversal of sensations and history is forgotten again because the music and the tones’ alterations appear to have neither geography nor position: specific dialogicities and extended techniques work for a universal improvisation, in which you can confuse the musical baroque with a Taiwanese tension. In More than one turn you appreciate the relative calm of a musical introduction (appropriately spatialized in the recording), an expedient to reaffirm the principle that all music has its own logic; it is made of passages that flutter about its concepts, although it is all improvised. So what is the meaning of the "regret" of the oracle? What is he complaining about in a "low voice" in the finale to work? The oracle predicts the future, but his "regret" leads us to think that his pronouncement is the effect of an unrepeatable experience of life, and without rhetoric he conducts us to the beauty and success of the path just made: Mimmo and Blunt followed that path, traveling in improvisation with their styles and in direct contact, a path to be seen as similar to the movement of butterflies, the same similitude created in descriptive terms by Daniel Barbiero in the liner notes "... two butterflies maintaining distinctive tracks even while traveling in the same direction together ... . ".