From folk to jazz… Interview with the accordionist Carmine Ioanna

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Carmine IoannaHe starts playing at the age of 4. Very soon, from when he’s 8 years old, he starts playing in public, as a pianist and accordionist and at the age of 11 he enrolls to the Cimarosa Conservatory in Avellino in the piano class. At the age of 17 he moved to Frosinone (L. Refice conservatory) where it was born also the accordion’s class, and he got his degree with M° A. Ranieri. Parallel to the classical studies he has always played impromptu music, in particular jazz. He has collaborated with Frosinone’s conservatory several times. Among the most important awards there are: scholarship of “Berkley college of music” during the seminars in Umbra Jazz and the victory  in the European jazz accordion competition with 100/100. In the 2012 he works on cds “Il pentagramma della memoria”, musical project that retraces in a jazz way music composed in the Nazis concentration camps, in which there are Luca Aquino and Sergio Casale (Sax and flute), and on “Per quanto vi prego”, “La costituente”’s CD, band Ioanna plays with, since 2011. In 2013 he played  in “aQustico” CD (Tuk Music) of Luca Aquino. He collaborates with Pasquale Innarella (Hirpus duo), Denis Fattori (D.F. trio ) e Aldo Bassi (Bassi/Ioanna duo), Antonello Salis, il rapper sudcoreano Loptimist.

In the 2014 he publishes his own album “SOLO” for Bonsai Music, with Luca aquino and Francesco Bearzatti.


An overwhelming power. Where does this vis come from during your performances?

Good question. I don’t know, I’m a very instinctive, some things are very difficult to explain. Problably it reflects a bit of my nature.

You was born with accordion on you. How was your musical course? Were there difficult choices or sacrifices?

In 1996 I went to the Conservatory of Frosinone, where I got my degree, and I had the chance to study classical music, that gives a very important technical and cultural baggage to every musician. Then the meeting with jazz music: I listened an Oscar Peterson’s cd and I was dazzled.

Since that moments I’ve never get off listening jazz.

During these years I’ve listened and played different kinds of music, from soul to the Argentine Tango, trough blues, Yiddish music, standards jazz, Italian songwriters… a lot of songs, a lot of music!

More and more our instrument is spreading in jazz world. According to you, what does it have so particular for having so much charm?

I’m a crazy lover of accordion, so I’m not so surprise, on the contrary…

I think that for many jazz lovers, in the last few years the accordion tune has represented a new timbre and expressive experience.

I love so much that, in this moment, when jazz is wrongly considered élite music, the numbers of the projects where the accordion is present and it is growing up, always considered only a folk instrument!!!

Maybe we will remember about as much the popular roots of jazz!

In your music there are many popular influences. Are you very closed to our roots? What do they mean for you?

I was born and I growed up in Irpinia, where my family and my best friends live.

Precisely I come from Ponteromito. A small village of 500 souls where time seems really to have been stopped.

I always thought to be penalized for this aspect, but step by step I’ve revalued a lot the genuineness and the simplicity of these roots.

I believe to the proverb that the tree to be tall must have deep roots.

You often work with great musicians as Antonello Salis, Luca Aquino, Francesco Bearzatti, Denis Fattori and many others. What are your feelings to converse with them trough sound?

For me communication and exchange are an essential part of the music, as improvisation.

I had the honor and the luck to play with great musicians and when the approach is right, we have a great time.

Play free is the thing I love more, leaving move from the power and the emotions of the moment. When all this happens with other musicians, it becomes a trip without goal and every time you explore new dimensions: an unforgettable experience. Antonello Salis is the living example!

Your first solo CD “SOLO” (Bonsai Music) is very recent. How was it born and what is it in?Carmine Ioanna

Yes, it’s released last September and I’m very happy about my tour.

It was born from the need playing in the most sincere way possible without stakes  and out of every structures.

Than the idea to record my first solo CD was as difficult as fascinating. Pierre Darmon with French record company Bonsai Music have encouraged me to do it and so “SOLO” is born.

In “Solo” there are 6 compositions written by me and 2 pieces that I arranged.

Moreover in one song I play with the incredible clarinet of Francesco Bearzatti and in other two pieces I performe with the genial and unmistakable trumpet of Luca Aquino. With him I have already recorded “aQustico” in 2013.

Even if now you “live” in the jazz world, you had the opportunity to know also classical and academic planet. What are the differences?

I don’t know if I live into jazz world. Generally I don’t like labels.

It is not important if it is classic or jazz music, I think we have to look to the future. It’s useful listen to Mozart or Duke Ellington. It’s formative study their works but I always make a question to myself:

“What should Mozart, Bach, Chopin, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis play if they were alive?

Surely they would be some kind of crossing expressive and experimental borders. I think it is the must for anyone who play or study music, everyone with his own possibilities and convictions.

In your music there is a lot expressive freedom. So, is it a fundamental value for you, not only in the music?

Without freedom, art would never have existed.

A lot of music was born among oppressed classes where people protested and rebelled because they dreamed freedom, as the jazz.

What do you think during your jam session?

The only thing I recommend to myself before start playing is to be myself. The remaining is done by adrenalin, emotions and the share with the audience.

Carmine Ioanna’s future…

There are a lot of projects ready to start.

First of all “SOLO” tour goes on, in Italy and Europe. On April it will be released “Zingaria” for the Oap record (Netherland), a CD I’ve collaborated in, with the trio “Lokomarket”. I’ll be around with other 2 projects: “aQustico” with Luca Aquino, trumpet, and “Hirpus Duo” with Pasquale Iannarella, Saxophones. I’ll come back to the theatre with “L’opera da tre soldi” (Brecht) for what I arranged the music for accordion.

On May it will be released the new CD of Rosso Antico, band captained by Antonio Pascuzzo, I’ve collaborated since one year. In Spring, in south Korea it will be released also “Looptimist e Carmine Ioanna, hip-pop accordion” CD, in which I play with a young Korean rapper.

Finally in Autumn there will be a theatre project with Rocco Papaleo.



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Autore: Gianluca Bibiani

Gianluca Bibiani ha scritto 1177 articoli.

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