HAZE ON THE WATER
I've known Luca since the late '80's, back when I was part of the founding faculty at Milan's then largest private music school and he was a student there. Luca was already an excellent player, with well-honed improvising, comping and reading skills (indeed he soon became sub for his teacher, session-king Giorgio Cocilovo, both at school and in the studio), qualities brought to my attention during rehearsals for school concerts and especially through performances with Chandé, the group he shared as "junior member" with the late bassist Stefano Cerri, drummer Walter Calloni and the late Columbian percussionist Candelo Cabezas.
I was particularly impressed with his conscientious and creative handling of the parts I gave him for a fusion project in early '91 with the group Nightflight. Over the intervening years I called him on a few occasions for session-work, always with brilliant results; I recall with special pleasure a single we did for Turkish pop-singer Tunçay Yönaç and a funky soul album we did for Guendalina Cariaggi in '95. Of late, he's done marvelous work on Erika Cecchini's CD and in her live appearances.
The "Haze on the water" project, so far as my direct involvement is concerned, began during a ride back to Milan Luca gave me when we finished the June '97 "Disco per l'estate" (an annual Italian TV pop music special) in Rimini. During the drive Luca asked, somewhat shyly, if I would like to hear some instrumentals he was working on. I said sure and was knocked out by most of the material and certainly all of the playing! The setting up of Compingo - the label for which the CD would be produced - was some nine months away, and, sure enough, this beautiful baby, "Haze", was born after that day's 'immaculate conception' (through the ear as in early Catholic Marian theology - how's that for a cute conceit!). I asked Luca for a copy of his demo-tape (musician's jargon for 'demonstration tape', i.e. work-in-progress recorded with a view to stirring up interest), made and sent a further copy down to my future Compingo partner in Rome, and wasn't surprised that he was immediately sold on the idea. We decided on a budget - unusually high for Italian rock/fusion projects - and I started choosing the pieces, musicians, engineers and studios with Luca.
Though I gave Luca pointers on the arrangements and various ideas (such as the voice-box) - throughout the period of recording and mixing of the record - I was only able to physically follow the proceedings for a few days (at the very beginning and the very end), being on tour as MD ('musical director') first with the late great deacon of Italian songsters Fabrizio De André and then with international pop megastar Laura Pausini; over 100 dates all over Europe. Luca himself was busy touring with popstar Antonella Ruggero, so the whole project was recorded and mixed piecemeal.
I dashed off my piano solo (on 'Heart's 'Content') late one night after a hard day's rehearsal with Laura, recording it as a midi file and sending it as an e-mail attachment to Luca; he had sent me a stereo 'rough mix' (some people prefer 'ruff') on DAT which I loaded into Digital Performer and jammed over. I never even really heard the piece decently until the mix (the only one I personally supervised)! The 'scratchy 78' acoustic guitar intro in 5/4 on "Sector 5" was recorded almost as an afterthought (in truth, it was a nearly-forgotten idea born many months before while I was messing around the first day in the studio with the rhythm section) as we were packing up at the end of the "Heart's Content" mix; I improvised a few takes onto Luca's minidisc, he took it home and added the scratch effect and presto!
So in the end I spent a lot more time on the graphics, titles and liner-notes - not to mention all the bureaucratic rigamarole pertaining to bar-codes, permits, contracts and the like - than on the actual music...
I know Luca felt my enthusiastic 'presence' anyway, and, of course, I knew all along that I could count on his own level-headedness, experience and good taste to follow through with 'the goods'.
This CD is widely considered a landmark in Italian rock/fusion recording, thanks both to the high production values and to Luca's exquisite melodic and improvisational talent. It has been difficult to buy up until now owing to its original label's vicissitudes, but Saint Rock has finally obtained distribution rights, so I hope you'll join Luca's many fans in spreading the word that the HAZE IS FINALLY LIFTING!