Inspired by the radio show Il Dottor Djembè, this book-CD presents itself as a treaty of musicology alternative to the official one, complete with documents, autographs, letters, pictures, music scores. The fully explored questions are of vital importance. Is the donut-shaped find discovered in the Montevitozzo quarry really a sound grinder dating back to the Etruscan era?
What does the essay, which is extremely difficult to find, say about the theater experience by Bela Manescu, “La mutilazione corporea progressiva come risorsa creativa“? And what happened to the unknown melodrama that only left a fragment behind, namely the cryptic heartfelt appeal of “Io son la cozza“? Are these events real? Are the musicologist Dottor Djembè’s findings on the island of Bora Bora real? Knowing it is really of little importance; yet it will be enjoyable to wait and see how these discoveries may change the course of music history over the years. In the record attached, together with pieces of music recovered by Dottor Djembè, the contributions of Riondino and Bollani and the notary Mirko Guerrini.
“I am the mussel
silent and dark
the dark seal of humidity
but if you pick me up
I won’t be afraid,
I will open”
What are the shepherds of the nativity scene thinking about, frozen in their condition of eternal statuettes?
David Riondino and Stefano Bollani try to envisage their thoughts in a musical tale (“little chamber opera”, they say) that captures the shepherds as they worship the Child.
And so, we find that their initial astonishment very soon turns into the opposite: the discouragement of someone who discovers he has lost his ability to move, in perpetual contemplation of something he hardly understands and whose details he ignores.
And so, as they sing and wonder, the statuettes might decide to break out of this immobility and really fall in love with life and the present. These are difficult choices to make, if you have been still for millennia, but you can certainly make them!
A book-CD that presents a theater performance in which for once singers, instead of “wiggling and play-acting” (cit. Riondino), are forced to stay still for an hour and a half interpreting passions only through the sound of their own voices.
“If we are not able to think of everything we remember
and we are not able to know everything we desire
because whatever we imagine, we imagine it on our own
because our despair makes us look like someone…
…DON’T STAY STILL!”
Piano and composition: Stefano Bollani
Text and narration: David Riondino
Illustrations: Sergio Staino
The singing statuettes: Paolo Benvegnù, Monica Demuru, Petra Magoni, Mauro Mengali
Aliens are useful, we need them as basis of comparison; they are that ideal different-from-us, still mostly unknown. According to a large number of people they are coming to invade us, while others believe they come to protect us. In any case, they do come, so we might as well start talking about them with three very special people: Mauro Biglino, Anne Givaudan and Igor Sibaldi.
This booklet presents the transcription of the meeting held in Rimini in November 2016, where Stefano plays the unprecedented role of interviewer.
Second round of conversations with Alberto Riva, this time focusing on a group of fabulous musicians.
From Gorni Kramer to Henry Purcell, from Erik Satie to Frank Zappa, a gallery of the archetypes of the world of music where Louis Armstrong is the rascal and Bill Evans the alchemist; a tale in which Joao Gilberto has the right to be a guru and rally the child Nino Rota and the predestined Belinda Fate to play and build sand castles that the sea will then ask them to rebuild the next day. Together, they make up a kaleidoscope of human kinds seeking freedom of expression.
"First of all, freedom of speech. Does it exist? We are very good at noticing censorship in places that are far away from us, in time and space. Yet we struggle to admit that we are not even free here and now either. And silence on this subject is the price we pay to be accepted in the society we live in. We also operate a self-censure in art, in music. Often, it seems as if it is the audience – this entity which is hard to imagine and delineate – that decides how long the leash around your neck should be. But audiences delude themselves: in reality, it is always the artist who decides how long the leash should be. Artists who manage their own freedom. And it is a matter of talent. The talent to escape from the labyrinth in order to find yourself. As Frank Zappa did."
"Formulas, even musical formulas, call spirits. I am convinced that we live among spirits even if, on a conscious level, we no longer notice it. Ancient peoples were certainly more aware of this, before their decline. Spirits are in everything that surrounds us; they are powerful catalysts and channelers of energy, and sometimes it is music that makes them suddenly perceptible."
A 1970s guru like Tom Robbins had rightly said: “The only reason why God tolerates us is our talent for bullshit”. That is where we can surprise him, the Lord. Not when we engage in religion, science, reasoning, but when we devote ourselves to useless things.
When we establish a front for the liberation of the garden dwarfs.
When we spend our nights blowing into a pipe or banging on a keyboard trying to use our ego set to find a lost harmony, or even better to create a new one, even if only for a few moments of happiness (like when jazz musicians raise their heads at the same moment and smile at each other).
La Sindrome di Brontolo is a 2006 novel in which we leap into the joyful and graceful destiny of a surreal microcosm, such stuff as dreams are made on.
There are five characters, just like the fingers we have on one hand, and as the piano has 88 keys, this book has just as many pages as well as a great deal of cross references, quotes, one-to-one correspondences. As in the whole history of literature, here too every reader has the right to find his/her own key to interpretation, or to find too many.
1956. Rock & roll and cinema spread the US cultural model all over the world.
In Italy Tu vuo’ fa’ l’americano makes everyone dance, yet reminding us that trends must be taken with a pinch of salt, because it only takes a moment for them to unveil their ridiculous side. Mixing the history of music and that of postwar cinema and literature, this booklet attempts to describe the cultural metamorphosis envisaged by Renato Carosone’s music through the genesis and success of his masterpiece. And it is a tribute to a musician Bollani has loved since he was a child, taking him as a reference.
“Tu vuo’ vivere alla moda ma se bevi whisky and soda
po’ te siente disturbà”
The great traveler Fosco Maraini knew about a dozen languages. As a person who always looks ahead, in the 1960s he decided to invent a thirteenth language and to equip it with phonemes and sounds chosen based on the taste they create when bouncing on the palate, peeping out through the lips and settling in the ear. So here are the Fanfole, poetic compositions written in an Italian spoken in a parallel universe and having multiple and iridescent meanings. In the late 1990s, singer-songwriter Massimo Altomare and Stefano Bollani turned them into music. Now everything has a second life in this book-CD, embellished by Fosco’s voice, and the parallel universe he envisaged turns into the colors of a joyful melancholia. Maybe this language belongs to the past, yet it could be new, fresh and founding, since what sometimes emerges when you listen to it is a nostalgia for the future, for a world where one is welcomed by “lenuli ripagni” and days are all “gnacchi” and “timparlini”.
“Il lonfo non vaterca nè gluisce
e molto raramente barigatta
ma quando soffia il bego a bisce bisce
sdilenca un poco, e gnagio s’ archipatta”
Stefano is on stage with his partner Valentina Cenni performing the story of a heretic and Dadaist Queen who has decided to escape her kingdom and the role that society has imposed on her and is hiding in the house of her quiet and solitary music Maestro. She is bursting with vibrant energy, her mind bubbling with thoughts about her future; she fills the air with winged words, while his answers are unspoken, expressed only through the piano. In the background, the thoughts and books of a phantomatic writer called Alain Gosmaux and the ideal world that he uses as an example of a well-organized society: the civilization of the Tuponi people who are intelligent, knowledgeable, open-minded. But will the world out there – which is not in the hands of the Tuponis, but of more prosaic human beings – let the Queen and the Maestro be?
This appears to be the key question. But there is actually another one: can we ourselves set the rules that govern our lives and openly show our intentions, ridding ourselves of all conventions, including those on life and death? Stefano and Valentina attempted this between 2014 and 2016. Together they wrote, performed and produced a play that toured Italy drawing a parallel world, such stuff as beautiful dreams are made on; the dreams in which an apparently unsolvable problem will dissolve in a glass of water and put a smile back on our face. Valentina gives the Queen the enthusiasm of rebirth and, with every new whirl, turns her into a performer, dancer, philosopher, poet and a singer. She steps into the Queen’s shoes as beauty steps into the shoes of bravura.
“Animals stopped talking a long time ago, millennia have now gone by since the days when zebras discussed botany and gnus commented on climate.
We are the only ones left, on the Earth, using grammar to exchange blows… the only ones!”
“Serious matters are not serious.
The only aim of the distinction between what is serious and what is jocular – as Gosmaux says – is to lock us up in a cage. It leads us to wander across this planet as lost, without the points of reference that the Tuponis instead still hold firm.
When we come into this world, we come from a different place where there are no distinctions and everything is clear, limpid, transparent, crystal clear.”
Written and interpreted by Valentina Cenni and Stefano Bollani
Music: Stefano Bollani
Sound direction: Marco D’Eramo
Light design: Luigi Biondi
Set design: Studio Anonimo of Max Sturiale
Costumes: Sandra Cardini
Seven episodes on Rai 1 in 2016, wonderful guests for a live event featuring a truly impressive international cast of musicians and comedians; one might even think these artists had been banned by law since, in most cases, they have never been seen on Italian TV: Chucho Valdes, David Garret, Enrico Rava, Vinicio Capossela, Andrew Bird, Chano Dominguez, Igudesman & Joo, Yamandu Costa and many others. Each episode is dedicated to one of the Seven Dwarfs (“L’importante è avere un nano”) and ends with a magical moment, a delicate and joyful oasis where Stefano duets with the sleep fairy Valentina Cenni’s “Video della buonanotte”.
With Stefano Bollani
Featuring Valentina Cenni
Authors Stefano Bollani, Rosaria Parretti, Fosco D’Amelio, Simone De Rosa
Directed by Cristian Biondani
Live music on Rai 3 for two seasons (2011 and 2013) on a TV show intended to be in equal parts a luxury jam session with international guests (Sol Gabetta, Elio, Trilok Gurtu, Hamilton de Holanda and many others) and a show where music is presented in a way that everyone can enjoy.
It was actually like entering a playroom and seeing and listening to child musicians having fun. The TV show is also available in a 3 DVD slipcase with the best of the first edition.
With Stefano Bollani and Caterina Guzzanti (Season 1)
Authors Stefano Bollani, Rosaria Parretti, Fosco D'Amelio, Francesca Nesler, Emanuela Andreani, Giovanni Filippetto (Season 1), Ennio Meloni (Season 2)
Directed by Enrico Rimoldi
Radio went on television. It stayed there for three episodes in 2010, and then quite rightly went back to the radio. Meanwhile, some of Dottor Djembè’s irony landed on Rai 3 screens. It is worth mentioning the TV reportage filmed on the streets of Florence. We met butchers who were great fans of Stan Kenton and Lena Horne, cardinals interested in Bob Marley, and then delivery people, cadets, ordinary people, all interested in music; so much for people who say that TV viewers change channel when music is on! All the characters were played by Bollani, which casts doubts on the authenticity of testimonies.
A radio show by David Riondino, Stefano Bollani, Paolo Aleotti
Written by Riondino, Bollani, Rosaria Parretti, Fosco D'Amelio, Mirko Guerrini
From Bora Bora, the mysterious Dottor Djembè connects to the local Rai office (Borai Borai) providing extremely valuable information about unrecognized artists who could change the course of music history.
Created as a mockery of “high” culture, this show was broadcast on Radio 3 from 2006 to 2012 and is still available on podcast. Together with David Riondino, Mirko Guerrini and Bollani, we met Sestilio Cabala, Ennio Flagelli, Duccio Vernacoli, Pierre Le Necessaire and many, many other “obscure” musicians.
Still today, there are people who doubt their existence, and these musicians find it deeply offensive (although they can only feel offended if they truly exist).
From time to time, these ‘pearls’ were discussed with special guests, about 150 in total: from Joe Barbieri to Paolo Benvegnù, through Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Patrizio Fariselli. A CD is available, Il Dottor Djembè Live, with the best of the guest musicians involved in duets with Bollani and Guerrini, as well as a book-CD, Lo Zibaldone del Dottor Djembè co-authored with David Riondino, presenting the worst musicians mentioned by Dottor Djembè over the years.
With Stefano Bollani and David Riondino
Notarial certification by Mirko Guerrini
Authors Rosaria Parretti and Fosco D’Amelio
Director Riccardo Basile
Producer Monica Nonno