Gianni Mimmo, Silvia Corda, Adriano Orrù

Oct 2018


1. How Spiders Spin Their Web Across A Great Distance
2. Sideways Glances
3. Sweetly Somber
4. About To Bloom
5. Implications
6. How Spider Sits and Waits


Gianni Mimmo soprano saxophone
Silvia Corda piano
Adriano Orrù double bass

All tracks by Mimmo, Corda, Orrù
Recorded on November the 5th, 2017 at Monserrato Studio, Cagliari, Italy
Engineering by Adriano Orrù
Mastering by Maurizio Giannotti, New Mastering Studio, Milano, Italy
Liner Note by Daniel Barbiero
Cover Art “Will”painting by Gina Gilmour ( )
CD label artwork by Silvia Corda
Graphics by Nicola Guazzaloca
Executive Production by Gianni Mimmo for Amirani Records


Mimmo Corda Orrù @ Baladi by Adriano Orrù


“To be clairvoyant is to claim to see beyond the apparent, to intuit something over and above the brute facts given to ordinary senses.”

Here Gianni Mimmo (soprano sax), Silvia Corda (piano), and Adriano Orru (double bass) take improvisations to new heights. Abstract jazzic meanderings, floating among cosmos drawn tight by invisible strings, absconding to depths unseen. Bright-sounding dark tones. Recorded in Orru’s hometown of Cagliari, Sardinia.

A. G. Bertinetto

Che l’improvvisazione made in Italy sia in ottima salute e non soltanto un lontano ricordo dei tempi di Nuova Consonanza era noto. Il trio di Gianni Mimmo (sax soprano), Silvia Corda (piano) e Adriano Orrù (contrabbasso) ce lo dimostra ancora una volta in modo convincente, mettendo in primo piano l’idea – suggerita dal titolo e dalle note di copertina – che l’improvvisazione richieda una chiaroveggenza, un’immaginazione capace di far emergere strutture artisticamente sensate laddove non ci sono. L’invenzione musicale è dunque la protagonista dell’album, anche nel senso della capacità dei musicisti di usare gli strumenti in modi inconsueti, ricavando suoni inediti e timbri inattesi, e ciò contribuisce alla costruzione del sound dell’album, un sound acustico intenso e limpido. Per esempio in alcune occasioni il sax suona qui come un flauto, ed è un effetto molto valido; così come particolarmente efficaci sono gli armonici del contrabbasso. Non sono tanto le singole tracce (sei) a risaltare in qualche modo, ma la continuità fluida dell’album nel suo insieme: predominano i suoni proposti da sax e contrabbasso, mentre il piano di Silvia Corda intesse i raccordi e i disaccordi tra gli spazi del suono, sebbene non manchino momenti in cui si prende la sua meritata scena: per es. all’inizio di Implications, uno dei due brani più lunghi (l’altro è Sideways Glances) che condensa in sé i tratti più significativi di questa proposta artistica: fantasia e solidità solistica, intenso e chiaro interplay, alternanza di astrattismo e groove (con momenti di puro swing). Godetevi l’ascolto.

Bernie Koenig

Clairvoyance is a great name for a free improvising group, since listening to and working off each other is what this music is all about. And these three definitely listen to, and work off, each other very well.But as a drummer I kept saying, where is the drummer? And as I listened, I realized they didn’t need one. And that is a big admission from me. But I would have had fun on Implications. Mimmo has a nice, smooth tone which blends well with the other members of the trio. Orru gets a big fat sound from his bass and Corda fits perfectly in between. There are times when I think Orru is using his amp to create some distortion, which fits in well. Or is he hitting the strings with a mallet? This is one free record where each track is different. Rather than listening to the whole CD as one long track with changes in mood and tempo, this CD demands one to listen to each track individually. And, on this point, when I let my attention wander, the music brought me right back. And that is no mean feat.Very enjoyable. No spider webs on these guys. 

Music Zoom

Con regolarità il sassofonista soprano Gianni Mimmo segue la via di uno Steve Lacy, questa volta in trio con Silvia Corda al pianoforte e Adriano Orrù contrabbasso, per presentare una musica inossidabile, incorruttibile, in cui i tre, accomunati dalle comuni frequentazioni dell’avanguardia, trovano un terreno comune su cui intessere i loro dialoghi. A tratti possono ricordare il famoso trio di Paul Bley con Jimmy Giuffre al clarinetto e Steve Swallow al contrabbasso, per la loro attitudine tranquilla e riflessiva all’interno di quelle che da loro sono libere improvvisazioni, senza vincoli alcuni, al confine fra jazz e atmosfere che vengono dalle composizioni della musica classica. Il loro linguaggio risente però di quella che è la musica improvvisata odierna, con le nuove tecniche agli strumenti e la possibilità di usarli in contesti che sfuggono ad ogni regola esterna. È anche la “chiaroveggenza” indicata dal titolo, l’incontro estemporaneo che si sviluppa in una situazione che diventa sempre più interessante in cui c’è tanto da raccontarsi. Fra gli armonici o i suoni più puri di Mimmo al sax soprano e le note del contrabbasso suonato con l’archetto o in pizzicato spunta qualcosa cui anche il pianoforte si aggrega per un dialogo a tre che non conosce momenti di stanca.

Perfect Sound Forever
Daniel Barbiero

Like improvisation itself, improvisational collaborations can be ephemeral things--creations of the moment that live in that moment and then disappear, like so many sounds dissolving into silence. Yet the fact that these alliances are the way they are--contingent on the momentary convergence of individuals on otherwise independent paths--means that they both create and thrive on a kind of compressed energy. Like an improvisation that has to cohere in the given time of its existence, an improvisational collaboration has to come together now, at this moment; it has to create a certain sympathetic chemistry from a fusion of the diverse sensibilities that its participants bring as they intersect at a given point in time. And to paraphrase Andre Breton, improvisational chemistry will either be convulsive, or it won't be: it will either succeed exhilaratingly or will fail through the musical equivalent of unrecognized epiphanies and missed connections.
The free improvisational Clairvoyance--soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, double bassist Adriano Orrù, and pianist Silvia Corda--have just such an exhilarating chemistry. That they do should come as no surprise; each of the three is, in his or her own way, exemplary of some of the finest free improvisational and experimental new music being made in Italy today.
Orrù and Corda, both of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, are life partners as well as partners in music. Orrù, a native of Nuoro in Sardinia, specializes in improvisational musics of different kinds, jazz and free improvisation, both acoustic and electroacoustic, in particular. He's played in ensembles of various sizes ranging from duos and trios to the large, international Variable Geometry Orchestra led by Ernesto Rodrigues in Portugal. As adept an ensemble musician as he is, Orrù's signature work is Hesperos, a solo double bass recording recently reissued by the Swiss label End Titles. Hesperos is a concept work in that each of its pieces is developed from the starting point of the fundamental tone of one or more open strings. By using varying bow articulations, plucking or striking the strings and occasionally augmenting the instrument with foreign objects, Orrù plays with the interactions of pitch and timbre to create something as lyrical as it is focused on discernible--and sometimes radical--changes in the tonal qualities of sound. There, as in his work with Clairvoyance, Orrù creates effects by mixing and isolating colors as an abstract painter might do.
Orrù's coloristic focus makes for a fine complement to Corda's pianism. Like Orrù, Corda's interest has taken her to jazz and improvisational musics. Her musical culture also includes a strong involvement in contemporary art music growing out of the postwar avant-garde's innovations in instrumental technique and instrumentation, and in compositional attitudes. In addition to standard piano, she frequently plays prepared piano and toy piano, as well as other toy instruments. Composition is a significant aspect of her practice and has brought her international recognition: her "Ritratti del Tempo" for toy piano and toy psaltery was premiered by Phyllis Chen at the 2013 UnCaged Toy Piano Festival in New York City in 2013 and subsequently remained in Chen's performance repertoire; her "Root of the Wind," a one-minute piece, was premiered by pianist/toy pianist Mark Robson in Glendale, California in spring of 2014. Closer to home, in March, 2017 she presented an evening of works for toy instruments in Cagliari. As an improviser, Corda is particularly attuned to the color possibilities of music, often playing directly on the strings and frame of the piano as well as on the keys. She is also cognizant of the coloristic potential of silence discerningly introduced into a performance.

Like Steve Lacy, Mimmo is uniquely associated with the soprano saxophone. In fact it was after conversation and lessons with Lacy in 1994 that the Milanese saxophonist decided to focus exclusively on the soprano. Before taking up the soprano, Mimmo had since the late 1970s played alto and baritone saxophones in experimental ensembles. His work with the soprano continues in that spirit of experimentation not only with improvisation and timbre, which is a central though often subtly approached facet of his playing, but with the kinds of contexts in which the soprano can be played. He regularly plays with ensembles of different sizes, but also, since 2003, has been exploring the possibilities of solo performance. More radically, he's experimented with melding music with contrasting literary texts--sometimes being read and sung together simultaneously--and has often collaborated with contemporary poets and other writers as well as with classical vocalists and spoken-word artists. The importance of the human voice to Mimmo's aesthetic comes out in his playing, the phrasing of which is reminiscent of the ideal set out by poet Charles Olson in his essay "Projective Verse": a line that follows the "laws and possibilities of the breath" in a necessarily variable metric that compounds the values of its constituent elements. Musically these latter would consist in the durations of individual notes or subphrases instead of Olson's syllables; and yet it isn't hard to hear Mimmo's phrasing as informed by a sense of the stress patterns falling across strings of syllables, as something akin to covert speech or song--something in fact like what Allen Ginsberg described as "speech-flow prosody."
Mimmo, Corda and Orrù met at the Tempo al Tempo Festival in Brussels in October, 2016, where Corda played toy piano in a small ensemble alongside of Mimmo. In early November, 2017, they played together as a trio in the Cantina Sa Defenza in Cagliari. Just the evening before, Mimmo and Orrù performed as a duo in Cagliari's Bar Florio. There followed soon after another date in Monserrato and a recording session. In February of 2018, the trio played dates in Milan and gave a workshop on the city of Pavia. Their first CD, the superb Clairvoyance, was released in September on Mimmo's Amirani label (disclosure- I supplied liner notes for the disc).

As the recording makes clear, each of Clairvoyance's players has a distinctive voice of his or her own, but all three speak individual variations of what is essentially the same musical language. Their vocabulary of sounds derives as much from the innovative performance techniques that have been developed over the last fifty or so years as from more conventionally classical ways of playing; the musical syntax ordering these sounds reflects a fluency in the techniques of juxtaposition, parataxis and simultaneity found in avant-garde art music as well as the free counterpoint of post-jazz improvisation. Improvisational groups such as the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza and the New Music Ensemble are obvious precedents in terms of the palette of sound colors available, but the continuity with which Clairvoyance weaves these colors together is something of their own.
Take, for example, the track titled "Implications." There, Mimmo, Corda and Orrù achieve textural balance through a subtle staging of voices and foreground-background relationships. The piece starts with what is in effect linked cadenzas for piano and double bass and eventually moves to a contrapuntal section for all three instruments, with the bass gradually splitting off to a walking line. The piece concludes with duets for soprano saxophone and double bass and soprano sax and piano. The overall formative architecture consists in an additive/subtractive process that runs the length of the performance and puts the individual parts in order. The textural weights of the passages for two and three voices are in turn centered and kept proportional through a fluid balancing of the field/figure relationships that ultimately give the piece its distinctive musical gestalt.

The structural soundness with which this and the other pieces are improvised is just an implication of Clairvoyance's fundamental orientation--an orientation that, collectively and individually, represents a compositional stance toward improvisation. This stance consists in a sense of developing form, of bringing to bear such values as balance, symmetry or asymmetry, repetition and variation, kinship and contrast, and so forth to the improvisational dynamic. In effect, this is an architectural way of conceiving of the deployment of sounds in audio space, in real time. Here, Corda merits special mention for the way she frames Mimmo and Orrù's melodies and countermelodies, holding open a place for them to develop--and to develop away from pitched sound if desired--without the danger of having the piano overdetermine the potential harmonies at any given moment. Architectural thinking is structural thinking but it's also a thinking of structure in the context of freedom; the elasticity and discretion of the scaffolding Corda's playing brings ensures the proper balance. Orrù enhances this structured openness by largely eschewing the traditional harmonic function of the bass and instead drawing from his instrument a range of timbres intermediate between those of the piano and the soprano saxophone. Again, balance is all, as it is with Mimmo's contribution. His lines are often characterized by a certain asymmetry--an asymmetry following speech-like patterns of accent, as suggested above--but within the group sound, his lines contribute to a more encompassing symmetry in which all three voices balance.
The compositional stance is essentially a form of interpretation. To draw an unlikely but nevertheless apt analogy, improvisation is an interpretive art, all the way down in the same way that soothsaying is an interpretive art: both call for reading physical phenomena--the flight of birds, say, for the latter; the dynamic configuration of sounds for the former--as meaningful clues by which to take action.
Like soothsaying, improvisation is about detecting possibilities for the future from the given material of the present--although needless to say, as an interpretive art improvisation stands on more solid ground than soothsaying. As an interpretive tool, the compositional stance provides a particularly effective place from which to understand and respond to the flow of sound in real time. It allows the firm finding of what Mimmo has aptly described as the performer's "sense of position" within the performance. On the evidence of the performances captured on their first CD, Clairvoyance are adept at finding mutually supportive positions within the improvisational flux and creating a beauty that Breton, had he any liking of music, would surely recognize as convulsive.

Percorsi Musicali
Ettore Garzia

Quando si pensa alla creatività si fanno spesso errori di valutazione del suo contenuto: quando usiamo le nostre capacità cognitive per creare arte utilizziamo (più o meno) connessioni che sono a nostra disposizione; sono cose ben diverse quelle del creare dal nulla e quelle del creare sulla base di conoscenze, è quanto divide l'entità divina dall'uomo, significa separare ciò che si forma senza un precedente processo di materialità e ciò che costituisce solo splendido intuito. 

Tuttavia se si aderisce ad una visione che propina l'unione cosmica degli elementi del creato, si possono delineare creatività derivate, proprie dei singoli uomini, che lavorano per il progresso artistico: è un discorso che non entra in crisi nemmeno con la creatività computazionale perché non si deve mai dimenticare che ad un robot è stato un uomo a dargli informazioni e a comporlo.

Per questa puntata vi propongo improvvisazioni ad alto tasso di creatività, musica selezionata dagli "abissi" che stanno circondando gli ascolti del nostro tempo, sempre più avaro di fornire nuovi spunti generazionali, di ricercare intuiti con il requisito dell'imprevedibilità e della ricchezza di pensiero.

Parto dal trio Gianni Mimmo-Silvia Corda-Adriano Orrù (rispettivamente soprano, pianoforte, contrabbasso), che ha messo su cd delle improvvisazioni libere registrate al Monserrato Studio di Cagliari; Clairvoyance è titolo programmatico ma non deve sviluppare nell'ascoltatore l'idea di qualcosa che ha a che fare con la magia o l'esoterismo; le note interne di Daniel Barbiero chiariscono a che tipo di chiaroveggenza si va incontro: "...Clairvoyance purports to see the world as a network of significances linked by a revelatory, spontaneous rapport between things and events superficially unrelated.....", io aggiungerei che c'è persino un mondo poetico che viene chiamato a raccolta, un coacervo di sensibilità; si, perché qui si parla di musicisti particolarmente avvezzi al concetto di sensibilità, che assecondano un particolare funzionamento di un trio da camera; se è vero che ci sono molti modi per far musica camerale, quella richiamata dall'improvvisazione è una scuola delle più ricche al riguardo ed esplorabile: la trance camerale di Mimmo-Corda-Orrù è impostata su tre strumenti che si integrano a meraviglia, soprattutto quando vengono suonati nella speranza che accada qualcosa durante la performance. E' così che i tre individuano movimentazione, intraprendono quella improba impresa di dare benessere nel durante e ci permettono di emozionarci allo stesso modo con cui si scruta un dipinto o si legge una poesia convincente. Mimmo mette in pratica tutta la sua proverbiale elasticità al soprano, una splendida evanescenza sonora che è in grado di regalare registri acuti con una facilità impressionante e cacciare fuori dal cilindro dei bellissimi multifonici in About to bloom; Orrù è un raffinato innamorato del contrabbasso, sia che suoni con l'arco sia che pizzichi le corde, dà voce al suo strumento ed equilibrio al trio; Corda attende con pazienza di inserirsi nei suoi spazi che sfruttano il cluster, i tocchi interni sulle corde, e gli ondeggiamenti prodotti sulla tastiera. 

Clairvoyance è arte contemporanea delle migliori: dentro puoi sentire il Calvino degli alberi, leggere i chiaroscuri di tante forme poetiche, sentire la musica dei clubs di Gordon e Lacy, penetrare lo sguardo in un dipinto astratto condiviso tra il lirico e il geometrico. 

Συνάντηση τριών. Του σοπρανίστα Gianni Mimmo, της πιανίστριας Silvia Corda και του κοντραμπασίστα Adriano Orrù. Οι οποίοι βρέθηκαν πού και πράττουν τι; Σ’ ένα στούντιο του Κάλιαρι, τον Νοέμβριο του 2017, ηχογραφώντας από κοινού και σε τελείως αυτοσχεδιαστική βάση.
Συνθέτες και οι τρεις, όπως και οργανοπαίκτες ταυτοχρόνως, οι Mimmo, Corda και Orrù μετέρχονται στο “Clairvoyance” κάθε φανερή ή λιγότερο φανερή τεχνική, προκειμένου να ορίσουν ένα χώρο κίνησης και δράσης – με πολύ χαλαρά όρια ή χαρακτηριστικά.
Ξεκινώντας από τον Mimmo θα λέγαμε πως το παίξιμό του, στο σοπράνο, δεν είναι μόνον πεδίο άσκησης multiphonics τεχνικών, αλλά και ενδεικτικό του ψαξίματός του προς την κατεύθυνση διερεύνησης των δυνατοτήτων τού οργάνου. Όχι τυχαίως το σοπράνο του ακούγεται συχνά σαν φλάουτο, παρουσιάζοντας, γενικώς, ευρεία γκάμα αρμονικών. Το ίδιο, φυσικά, θα ισχυριζόμασταν και για τους υπόλοιπους δύο (συμπαίκτες). Η πιανίστρια Corda χρησιμοποιεί και αυτή το πιάνο της με τρόπο κανονικό και «από μέσα», συμβάλλοντας στην ηχοχρωματική ποικιλία, τόσο με τον κλασικό τρόπο, αλλά και με… εφφετζίδικη ή κρουστή προοπτική, ενώ και ο κοντραμπασίστας Orrù, πότε με δοξάρι και πότε πιτσικάτο, είναι πάντα εκεί για να δώσει ρυθμό, ορίζοντας πρόσκαιρα περιβάλλοντα.
Δεν μπορείς να γράψεις πολλά, για ένα άλμπουμ σαν το “Clairvoyance”. Η ελευθερία τής κίνησής του και η διαρκής προσαρμοστικότητά του στις διαθέσεις της στιγμής (των τριών αυτοσχεδιαστών), που εκπηγάζουν από ποικίλες αισθητικές σταθερές (classical, «δωματίου», avant, free-improv κ.λπ.), υποσκάπτουν κάθε προσπάθεια σαφούς και διαρκούς οριοθέτησης.
Jean - Michel Van Schouwburg

Contrebasse chatoyante et sonique, saxophone soyeux et polytonalement mélodique, piano exploré dans ses mécanismes et radicalement percussif contemporain, doigtés allègres et cristallins. La pianiste Silvia Corda et le contrebassiste Adriano Orrù forment un couple musical à la scène comme à la ville. Lui une manière de Peacok / Barre sarde (les meilleures écoles !) très solide et aussi réellement libre. Son coup d’archet génère bien des affects et des nuances de timbre. Le discours pianistique de Silvia Corda est à la fois ouvert, multiple, nuancé et plongé dans l’écoute mutuelle créant son univers qu’elle construit par petites touches donnant à ses comparses de l’espace, du temps, des idées, un peu de contraste, tout en avançant ses pions dans un jeu savant et parfois insaisissable. Flottant presque nonchalamment par-dessus, le souffle de Gianni Mimmo trouve la dynamique et l’univers propice à étendre et distendre le son et le souffle, les intervalles, quintes, tierces, secondes en tuilage subtil. Clairvoyance fonctionne dans l’écoute et l’équilibre, l’énergie se répandant après coup dans des pointes de jeu plus intenses qui surviennent comme un signal indiquant le passage vers un autre territoire, une direction différente ou un magnifique solo de basse à l’archet, lequel introduit encore d’autres événements sonores. Ce sens naturel d’enchaîner / varier ces séquences avec leurs sonorités caractéristiques, leurs pleins et leurs silences, qui font partie de la musique collective, contribuent à l’intérêt suivi de l’auditeur. Ces trois improvisateurs manifestent une belle assurance mais ne semblent point pressés à nous impressionner et à en rajouter. La virtuosité ne s’exprime pas au nombre de notes à la seconde. Il y a surtout un moment de vie, de partage, de jeu qui donne du temps au temps et va en profondeur dans les sentiments, le ressenti à la fois instantané  et vécu sur la durée. Dans Implicationsle jeu d’Adriano commente en décalant note à note l’envol des phrasés lunaires et virevoltants du saxophoniste, tandis que la pianiste sous-tend des doigtés en sursaut, toujours en éveil, recyclant et déconstruisant un chouia la structure harmonique qui guide les ébats du souffleur, très inspiré ici. Ensuite, on négocie le noyau de l’échange au ralenti jusqu’à ce que la pianiste conclut et clôture par surprise. Le morceau final, How Spider Sits and Waits achève la session sous le signe de l’écoute ludique vers un domaine plus aléatoire, mais tout autant achevé : sonique et réservé du côté du piano, diaphane chez le sax soprano et avec le gros pouce qui actionne les cordages de la contrebasse alternant avec des doigtés subtils… Un beau travail et d’excellents musiciens qui jouent le jeu de la rencontre.