Renzo Ruggieri has played all over the world. He is currently working with Italian Jazz projects ranging from solo, duo, combo to Renzo Ruggieri Orchestra. He has made important music for theater productions, collaborating with the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and with Antonella Ruggiero, whom accompanied at the Sanremo Festival in 2007. It was the first accordionist to make CD completely improvised with his second soul, Solo Accordion Project. In 2009 he was awarded at the International Festival of Castelfidardo award the Golden Voice, already assigned to Gorni Kramer, Richard Galliano, Astor Piazzolla and Art Van Damme. In 2013 received the Silver Disk from the prestigious Moscow Gnessin Akademy. He has collaborated with Fabrizio Bosso, Sergio Caputo, Franco Cerri, Moby , Paolo Damiani, Tullio De Piscopo, Piera Degli Esposti, Paolo Di Sabatino, Roberto Gatto, Tonino Guerra, Monica Guerritore, Massimo Manzi, Gabriel Mirabassi, Ron Morgan, Massimo Moriconi, Gino Paoli, Lino Patruno, Nicola Piovani, Enrico Rava, Danilo Rea, David Rion, Art Van Damme, Ernesto Vitolo.
When you first started and how it has changed over the years the image of your instrument in the collective imagination?
I started listening to my cousin playing popular music, I was 10 years old. Then the dance was very popular and accordionists were protagonists. From avid fan of Maestro Peppino Principe, I imitated style, variations, and especially his typical way of playing with swing. Jazz for me it was an inevitable consequence. Today, the accordion has had an extraordinary acceleration due to diffusion in systems with low dissolved (and its literature) that have cleared through customs by the low quality of the instrument, and also thanks to Astor Piazzolla – and his disciple Richard Galliano – who have contributed to the spread mass in less academic areas. Accomplice globalization, and a revival of interest in indigenous cultures, today manages an accordionist playing in jazz festivals, in those of world music and even in the most prestigious theaters.
Unlike what you might think (or thought), the accordion is very versatile and has rich melodic, harmonic, rhythmic solutions. There are some directories that are not suited to this instrument?
The accordion is an instrument timbre extreme. The contrasts and multiple sounds to allow it to give their best in “only” and in small groups. Speaking of music, it seems to me unsuitable ‘strong’ as a term. I would say that being a rich timbre sometimes some arrangers persist in using it everywhere and with all its sound power, with questionable results. I remember in Pop, it took me a whole season to find the appropriate timbre, I used phrases and harmonies measured, sober registers in individual voices and always developing with all the electronics for better amalgamarmi with the band. I therefore consider the accordion can be used anywhere as long as they do not aspire to be a leader at all costs.
Jazz in Italy is an avant-garde niche, linked to non-European influences, or has its own autonomy and is appreciated by an audience cross?
Remains essentially African-American jazz until the 60s. Then, with the Free Jazz, starts a reverse path that has seen this music influence all other cultures, from Rock to ethnic. And precisely in this that the phenomenon of Richard Galliano has exploded. Nothing is accidental. Richard was the right man at the right time. Until then, more than anything else except phenomena personal (Art Vandamme, Frank Marocco, etc.). Could not speak of an identity of the jazz accordion. Prejudices are now finished, the audience applauds and whistles based on what he hears and sees not the instrument.
How are your more experimental projects, such as free improvisation for accordion, welcomed?
Good question. When I publish a CD of free improvisation critique I always favorable. For each of the published CDs (guided improvisations, stories lived accordion) have always been contacted by critics, then become friends. To live instead I find it hard to propose concerts. These things have a history of its own, a circuit of Use well defined. I love the free improvisation that is a part of me but it is not the only one. I know I need to continue and new ideas, I can not lock me in one direction. The CDs have always recorded a cover shot so it opens in style block -notes, or times when I take notes from my creativity. I’m deciding whether to publish in these days a new album later this year, with live performances and new improvisations.
The use of electronic technologies and even media to your entertainment has found a positive response both in Italy and abroad?
I love electronics that do not simulate the real (a “beautiful piano sound simulated” is unacceptable to me artistically), and for this I move always looking for original sounds or moving from acoustic, to be reworked electronically. With this in mind, I published the first CD in the world entirely impromptu accordion in 1998 with the use of digital sound extreme environments and the first CD for accordion with electronic multi-effects and looper in 2000. The public appreciates and apparently many artists are now beginning to approach these techniques.
The convergence, especially in live performances, more languages (concert, theater ), complicates the message or makes it more recognizable?
Unfortunately, yes. The current speed of things requires simple messages loud and clear. An artist must find its own formula expression and, therefore, needs test, unfortunately slow to mature (at least in my case). For example, I wrote a lot of incidental music but I decided that would not have been my own way under the heaviest sounding (Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Greek-Roman Theatre of Taormina). There, I realized that in these environments the music was in second place … made unacceptable to me.
Can you talk about the project “A Christmas Carol?”
With regard to the above, A Christmas Carol is part of a formula I call “musical tale with text to comment”. Clear is not it? It is basically a concert of music (composed, arranged and improvisations) with a history that goes every so often recited in the music world. A sort of “Pierino and the Wolf” but with jazz music and a history not only directed at children. The basic story (according to my original intentions) is exposed to the canvas and the melodies are in the style of jazz and therefore very open to changes. At the moment I have written two, the other is called Opera? and is a complex operation with modern orchestra, and solo accordion player. A Christmas Carol has a text expressly reduced and adapted by writer Clio Pizzingrilli, while the music is written in the style of jazz (melody with chords) so they can be made from any training. I myself have performed as a quartet, duo and solo. Later this year I plan to finish the CD.
Can you talk about ” Italian Hymns”?
A CD of the heart, dedicated to our great little country, old and new songs, revisited in a very fresh and spontaneous way. The meeting with Paolo Di Sabatino is now consolidated, we know each other very well, we respect and we can enjoy one of the successes of others. This creates a favorable climate and creative that is transmitted throughout the music we make. We met and we talked about the repertoire and arrangements, then we booked the room and in one day, very inspired, we made the CD. We have been to Russia, Belarus and Slovenia, and others are in preparation for the tour.
There are new projects that you’re paying at the moment?
As already mentioned, I would like to record something of Free Improvisation before the summer and the Christmas Carol in September. I started negotiations for the production of the second jazz opera that I hope to accomplish in the next year. There is anything else in the pot but it is early to talk about it.
This article is available also in: Italian