LABEL: AUAND, Italy
FORMAT: CD / AU9081
ARTIST: Luca Sguera
Luca Sguera piano, vocals on #6
Francesco Panconesi tenor saxophone
Alessandro Mazzieri electric bass
Carmine Casciello drums
Dan Kinzelman vocals #6
Produced by Luca Sguera and Dan Kinzelman
Executive Producer: Marco Valente
Recorded at Siena Jazz – Italy
Engineer: Dan Kinzelman
Cover Photo: Kenji Yanagawa
A free collective voice
On Luca Sguera’s debut album, “AKA”,
Out in February for Auand Records
“The music of AKA people is collective: everyone participates; there seems to be no hierarchy on how parts are distributed: voices grow in all directions.” These are researcher Simha Arom’s words in his volume on AKA Pygmy people. Italian pianist Luca Sguera has wanted them in his debut album notes: AKA, out on February 1st for Auand Records, has been produced by Dan Kinzelman. Those words describe very well the style of Sguera’s band, featuring Francesco Panconesi (tenor sax), Alessandro Mazzieri (electric bass), and Carmine Casciello (drums).
With super short tracks and marathon renditions, AKA dives in improvisation and brings an often angular sound: unexpected turns and sudden rises coexist with a quiet, almost savoured calm. A key element can be found in one of the shortest tracks, “And we found ourselves talking machine language”, especially for «an exploration – Sguera says – of the quartet’s rhythmic and harmonic (im)balances, resulting in a tension made of melodic/rhythmic lines counterpoint. We developed this approach when rehearsing and it also inspired me to choose a name for this project».
They immediately realized their significant affinity when studying at Siena Jazz in Italy, as the leader recalls: «Alessandro is a versatile musician who can naturally switch from the traditional bassist’s role to drafting new timbers using electronics, keeping a strong melodic inclination. Carmine can mix technique and aesthetics in a unique sound. Francesco has recently developed a sort of minimal approach along with a warm, layered sound, making his style truly personal in the contemporary jazz scene.»
Siena is also the place where AKA was born, almost surprisingly. «Dan Kinzelman’s contribution has been essential: after listening to us performing live, he decided to co-produce a recording we did in 2018 at Siena Jazz, where he is involved as a teacher. I wanted to make the most out of the time we had to record both the compositions I wrote for AKA and those we had performed live over the previous months, and also free improvisations, aiming at documenting the band’s primordial soul.»
AKA is at the same time open to interpretation, as the acronym A.K.A (“Also Known As”) suggests, and also a hymn to collective freedom. As Arom’s words on AKA Pygmy people read towards the end, “that’s what strikes the most: a simultaneous dialectics between rigor and freedom; music context and margin of free initiative in which individuals can move”.