Paolo Fresu

Mare Nostrum II

Format: CD
Label: ACT music
UPC: 0614427981226
Catnr: ACT 98122
Release date: 26 February 2016
1 CD
ACT music
Catalogue number
ACT 98122
Release date
26 February 2016

"For its reflective moments and its flashes of pure joy, this album is well worth numerous listens."

music vision, 07-9-2016

About the album

The Long Wait is Over. Mare Nostrum presents 'The Sound of Europe'….. Part Two.

Sardinian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, French accordionist Richard Galliano and Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren
form the trio “Mare Nostrum” (meaning our sea, and the Romans' name for the Mediterranean). This band forges connections between the discrete musical cultures of its three protagonists. Countless listeners worldwide have been captivated by their music, by this distinctive 'sound of Europe.'

When the first album “Mare Nostrum” appeared in 2007, critics in many countries were unanimous in their opinion that these three musicians had succeeded, they had found their way to forging something of timeless beauty. This “lyrical jazz ensemble with a keen sense of composure” (Downbeat, USA) had created “a wonderful album of genuine warmth” (Jazz Magazine, France) which poured forth “poetry and originality” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, DE) and which was “quiet, intimate and on occasions meditative” (Stern, DE). In other words, “a most unusual and beautiful record. An outstanding musical feast” (Morning Star, UK). Furthermore, the Independent newspaper made the prediction that this “soundscape of contemporary European jazz” would sound remarkable live on stage. And they were right: the trio has now played over 150 concerts in more than 20 countries, and audiences everywhere have fallen under its spell.

Fresu, Galliano and Lundgren are dissimilar characters, and yet in this trio these exceptional musicians with their different cultural heritages have found an alliance which fosters their affinities and creates symbiosis. They play instruments from different families, and yet together they combine to create an ideal sound. Each of the three is a compellingly melodic player. Each has worked to extend the perceived boundaries and limitations of jazz. Each has explored within his national musical tradition, and since all three grew up within a few miles of a shore-line, the sea has more than just a symbolic role: it is a constant presence, a source of inspiration, and the starting point for all kinds of journeys and encounters, real and imagined.

It goes without saying that all of these musicians are among the most constantly in-demand in Europe bar none. Fresu is involved in countless projects from film to ballet, and is often to be found on stage with musicians as diverse as Nguyên Lê, Ralph Towner, Uri Caine or Omar Sosa. Galliano is an endlessly curious musician. He moves freely between the jazz and the classical worlds and is always on the look-out for new creative inputs, whether working with the late Charlie Haden, with Charles Aznavour or indeed the Sinfonietta Krakow. Jan Lundgren has not just Nordic broodiness and impressionistic esprit as part of his make-up, but equally present are his deep roots in the American jazz piano tradition, which have led to collaborations with mainstream jazz players such as Scott Hamilton or Harry Allen. Lundgren's individuality and distinctiveness are part of what makes him a genuine first call pianist, whether it be for Wolfgang Haffner's “Kind of Cool” project. Or, just recently, for Nils Landgren's Leonard Bernstein Tribute “Some Other Time”.

The fact that all three are in such demand has meant that Fresu, Galliano and Lundgren have taken all of seven years to make a follow-up album to the hugely successful start they made together as a band. Nevertheless, it has to be said that the long wait for “Mare Nostrum II” has absolutely been worth it. All three musicians have once again written pieces whose ear-worm tendency is irresistible. The listener is instantly drawn in by the sheer beauty of sound.

The ear can wallow in the bubbling and limpidly lyrical piano chords and rins that come from Jan Lundgren; the warm, unimaginably variable tone colours of Fresu's trumpet and the cascades of counterpoint from Galliano also charm the listener. This collection contains melancholy ballads, the red-hot pasión and deep yearning of the tango (“Blue Silence”), and the Nordic colurs of “Kristallen den fina”. It steps into the world of Frech chanson (“Giselle”), whereas (“Farväl”) is like a classical Etude. “Aurore” is a radiant hymn and “ Leklåt” is a whirling boogie, racing against the clock.

Alongside the original compositions contributed by all three members of the band, the album includes two adaptations of highly contrasting pieces from the classical canon. Claudio Monteverdi's “Si dolce è il tormento” from the ninth book of madrigals was the work of an innovator who was present at the dawn of baroque opera. His composition is treated ethereally and with elegant subtlety. At the other end of the scale is the “Gnossienne No. 1” by that master of musical miniature Erik Satie from fin de siècle France, played with rhythmic assertiveness. These two completely dissimilar pieces from very different eras and contexts demonstrate how these three musicians at the peak of their powers find the essence of European jazz through their perfect interaction.

This new CD marks the return to the studio of a European supergroup. And they're on top form.


The band of the country and major international prizes, the Sardinian countryside and disks, the discovery of jazz and the many collaborations, the love for the little things and Paris. There were few people really able to put together such a primer of elements and turn it into an incredibly fast growth style.
Paolo Fresu he succeeded just in a country like Italy where - for too long - the jazz culture was known as Shakespeare or the paintings of Matisse, where Louis Armstrong was little more than a freak of insane showcases Sanremo and Miles Davis discovered "black" and very good after years of maximum creativity. The "magic" is immense naturalness of a man who, like few others, managed to carry the deeper meaning of his magical land precisely in the most precious and freedom of the arts. At this point in his long and successful career, no longer need to enumerate recordings, prizes and various experiences that imposed at the international level and that they systematically and ecumenically love his music: in the sound of his trumpet is the sap that gave prestige to the new wave of European jazz, the depth of a thought not only music, generosity wants it "naturally" in the right place at the right time but, above all, the enormous and inexhaustible passion that sustains forever. This Paul is - as usual - whirling, worthy omnivorous artist and creative that everyone recognizes in him. Today (apart from a surprising literary side which resulted in the publication of some interesting editorial work) made ​​of its historic quintet is about to round the mark of 3 decades of full cooperation and mutual respect, but is also one of the quartet " Devil ", which rescues fully about the successes of the celebrated" Angel "who imposed European Paolo attention some five years ago. They grow then the important contemporary realities: the duet with Uri Caine, collaboration with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow and the lucky meeting with Ralph Towner that was the bridge at the entrance of Paul's name in the entourage of the celebrated and noble label ECM, which then published the beautiful work Mystical Mediterranean with Daniele Di Bonaventura and the choir A Filetta course, I am only a few of these. Its present more current sees active, more foreign things in perspective, in a trio with Richard Galliano and Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren ("Mare Nostrum") and several new adventures with new names entourage important contemporary jazz such as Omar Sosa, Gianluca Petrella, and - again - with Manu Katché, Eivind Aarset, Dave Douglas. Interesting are the projects with some great names of the literary and theatrical Italian (Ascanio Celestini, Lella Costa, Stefano Benni, Milena Vukotic) over, finally, a new series of small but important partnerships with the music "intelligent" fringes popular Italian. Music for the cinema and "special projects" as its unique "just" play that has paralyzed 3,000 spectators at the Auditorium of Rome or an enchanted theater Metastasio in Prato close the circle with the little big and crazy adventure that led him to celebrate in 2011 its 50th anniversary with 50 concerts, in 50 consecutive days with 50 formations and different projects of the day in 50 masterpieces landscape of his native Sardinia. It would certainly be a mistake to forget the winks to the world "Classic "that could soon surprises with ad hoc jobs when they may be involved string quartets looking ahead and great heroes Avantgarde music or, finally, the beautiful new work of" promotion "cha Paul is carrying out against many Young Lions entourage contemporary jazz through the possibilities offered their thanks to his new label Tǔk Music built specifically to look forward to.


For its reflective moments and its flashes of pure joy, this album is well worth numerous listens.
music vision, 07-9-2016

Le Soir / 20-04-2016
Le Soir, 20-4-2016

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