Back and Forth: A Raft Floating Between Italy and the U.S.
21.09.2021, by Luca Testoni
Danilo Gallo, bassist of Guano Padano, spoke to us about the birth of their new studio album “Back And Forth” and the origins of the band’s musical partnership with Sam Amidon and Bill Frisell
As the possibility of leaving the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic behind us, thanks to the vaccines, becomes more and more concrete as the months go by, we find space for some musical gems that were kept on forced standby for much too long. That is the case with “Back And Forth”, the EP in which Guano Padano, the eccentric trio formed by guitarist Alessandro “Asso” Stefana, drummer Zeno De Rossi and bassist Danilo Gallo, shared ideas, songs and instruments with Sam Amidon, regarded by many as one of the most interesting names on the U.S. contemporary folk scene. The resulting four songs, recorded in a studio in Brescia during the lockdown of summer 2020, will be released under the Ponderosa label on October 8th and will be available both in an analog (vinyl and cd) and physical format.
«At the end of 2019 we did a few live performances with Sam, an artist we have loved and followed for a long time (the Vermont-born singer-songwriter even had us as special guests on his 2017 album). We revisited his pieces in our own Guano Padano style and, after that tour, we promised each other we would soon do something else together», Danilo Gallo explains. A piece of trivia for you: «We and Amidon recorded the whole EP in the space of a single day».
Speaking of the EP tracks: «We have “Short Life”, a song written by Sam in which we decided to include a medley of his own pieces; we also have “Cereno”, composed by Zeno De Rossi, who also had the idea for “Prairie Avenue Cowboy”», says Gallo. «It was Zeno who first discovered this piece by Paul Motion, Bill Evans’ great drummer, who never managed to record it himself before passing away about ten years ago. Our version, therefore, is intended as a homage to Motion. The cherry on the cake was to involve in the creation of this EP Bill Frisell, a great jazz guitarist who in the 80s had been part of a trio led by Morton himself and including Joe Lovano».
This is not Guano Padano’s first collaboration with celebrated artists such as Frisell. In 2012, for their second album “2”, they had worked with Marc Ribot, another American star of jazz guitar, as well as with Faith No More frontman Mike Patton. Both musicians fell in love with Guano’s musical personality, merging Morricone-style timeless melodies with jazz harmonies and combining mellow folk with rough psychedelic elements.
«It was a fantastic long-distance collaboration», the bassist continues. «We emailed Bill the base track and he sent us back his part from Seattle…», Gallo explains. It must have been very satisfying, for the trio, to work with one of the most celebrated jazz guitarists in America.
But what image can we use to define Guano Padano? «I like to compare us to a raft constantly floating back and forth between Italy and the United States», says Danilo Gallo. He then elaborates further: «Italian and European culture cross the Atlantic Ocean, reaching the other side and coming into contact with American culture. The cultures meet, clash, color and enrich each other, are transformed, then go back to where they came from. But immediately they depart again. It is an infinite process of sea crossings. After all, everyone in the world was born from a sea crossing. From a meeting, or a merging…».
As we wait for their proper live tour scheduled for 2022, Guano Padano and Sam Amidon will perform together on October 1st 2021 in the church of San Carlo in Modena, as part of the “Dig Festival”. The perfect occasion to get a sneak peek of their new tracks from “Back And Forth”.