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F - à Léo

F – à Léo, an exquisite recording by Italian jazz musicians performing the songs of Léo Ferré, has already been accorded rave reviews, extensive airplay and strong sales in Europe and Canada. Now Justin Time is confident this gem of a record can find success across the USA, as it holds appeal not only for fans of jazz trumpeter Paolo Fresu, but also people interested in Léo Ferré, fans of contemporary Italian music, and devotees of Gianmaria Testa, an singer/songwriter whose own highly personal and richly melodic songs – that at times recall Paolo Conte – are imbued with intoxicating accents of tango, bossa nova, habañera and jazz, and who sings and plays guitar on eight of the album’s 12 selections.


Léo Ferré (1916-1993) was one of the greatest French artists of the 20th century, acclaimed as a composer, a poet, singer and instrumentalist. With Brassens and Brel, Ferré is considered one of the greatest writers of French songs (both as a lyricist and composer).

Born in Monaco, Ferré blended melancholic love songs with moral anarchy, lyricism with slang, and rhyming verse with prose monologues. He moved from music-hall to orchestral music, breaking free from the traditional song structure during the 1970s, inventing his own musical territory, powerfully dramatic and unique. He also had the idea to set to music to poems by such French poets as Villon, Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud. Ferré was also involved in anarchism, working with Radio Libertaire, a radio station in Paris that broadcast throughout France.


This project was initiated in 2001 and is the result of a simple, beautiful, yet daring idea proposed by pianist Roberto Cipelli. In addition to offering jazz renditions of some of Léo Ferré’s most noted works, the repertoire of the French chanson monument is revisited by Italians, with a broader vision, a different approach, if you will, coming from the other side of the Alps.

The idea blossomed over time, with concerts given here and there in Italy, in France and in Belgium, to which audiences responded favourably. The musicians also demonstrated an obvious enjoyment on stage. Thus, the end result is the product of a collaborative effort, an endeavour involving the production (Produzioni Fuorivia) and an exceptional band brought together by the architect of the project, pianist Roberto Cipelli.

Cipelli’s project features a group of esteemed musicians in their own right: Attilio Zanchi on double bass, Philippe Garcia on drums and Paolo Fresu, a real trumpeter-poet if there ever was one. Lending his voice to the lyrics is singer Gianmaria Testa, who possesses a profound knowledge and love of Ferré’s universe and is a connoisseur, so to speak, of France and its language. Since then, the repertoire has been improved, refined, and these men have, in a way, taken ownership of the songs.


After seven years, it was high time to make a recording of this project. It’s called F because there was no presumption or philological motive behind it; we sought the essence of Léo, not the letter. This is not a “covers” record, it’s something quite different. On the whole, F attempts to paint a musical, textual, poetic and political picture that carries the specific signs of the current times.

Moreover, the recording contains, almost unexpectedly, a very intense interpretation of the Italian song Lontano, Lontano by Luigi Tenco. In this context, it is sort of our own way of tipping our hats to Léo. Free Poétique is a free-form piece that reflects our attempts to reproduce, in music, this esprit fort that Ferré employed so well in his words and ideas.

Also included is one of Cesare Pavese’s writings, the songlike poem Il Blues dei Blues, set to the very Parisian music of Saint-Germain-Des-Prés. Another track, F, composed by Cipelli, pays tribute, with much emotion and love, to the astonishing qualities of Ferré as a composer, an unquestionable master of harmony.

In addition, the recording features the manifesto of symbolist poetry so dear to Ferré’s heart, Verlaine’s L’Art Poétique, which is scattered like a textual and musical puzzle to be reconstructed as the album unfolds.

Added to this are Ferré’s Monsieur Williams, Les Forains, Avec le temps (the album begins with the theme of the song played on piano and concludes with a minimalist version of it sung in Italian) Colloque sentimental (a fiery trumpet-piano duet), as well as L’Adieu and Vingt ans, two tracks that practically become jazz standards after our treatment, as well as a jovial rumba arrangement of Les Poètes.

“Everything about Ferré fascinates me: the poet, the musician, the man. This project, for once, does not coincide with any particular anniversary. The idea came to me a few years ago. I was at a restaurant in Liège (for a concert with Fresu’s quintet); the manager of the restaurant was one of Léo’s close friends. I remember it as if it were yesterday. We had such a beautiful and intense conversation on Ferré while listening to his music at the same time. The restaurant owner showed me objects and photos that reminded him of Ferré and spoke with warmth, delight and deep respect about this true artistic phenomenon, which I was barely familiar with at the time. All this led me to learn more about Ferré through his recordings and writings. What I discovered was so similar to my vision of the world and my way of experiencing music that I endeavoured to revisit it in my own personal way with musicians I esteem (such as Gianmaria Testa or Philippe Garcia) or that I have known for a long time (Paolo Fresu and Attilio Zanchi). I also knew these musicians would be able to share all the intensity of Ferré’s works with me.” – Roberto Cipelli

F. à Léo

Based on an idea by Roberto Cipelli, featuring

Roberto Cipelli – piano
Attilio Zanchi – double bass
Philippe Garcia – drums

with the participation of:
Gianmaria Testa – voice, guitar
Paolo Fresu – trumpet, flugelhorn

F. – à Léo was produced by Paola Farinetti for Produzioni Fuorivia and is
licensed to Justin Time Records for North America.

..:: Source: DL Media ::..