giovedì 23 aprile 2020

Maria Barbieri, a young guitarist in the wake of the prog... and King Crimson

As I was reading an interview with Lino Vairetti, which will be published in the next MAT 2020, I picked up a praise of the leader of OSANNA to a guitarist named Maria Barbieri, a person  I did not know before.
Intrigued, I started looking for more information and found confirmation to Lino's words, especially seeing her at work in the videos found on the net.
Needless to say, it’s an euphemism to say that I was impressed to learn of her skills and passions, not so easily found in  a young woman, because progressive music is something of immortal, that’s for sure, but let’s be honest, it’s  not something  the younger  generations like too much, if not to the extent of the niche, by some sowing parent.
Then I saw the video in which she covers "Larks' Tongues In Aspic", and to know that she was noticed by the "rigid and serious" Robert Fripp, well, this prompted me to contact her: I had to satisfy my curiosity as if I was a teenager.

Maria Barbieri responded quickly and, above all, allowed me to quickly carry out the interview to follow.
As we wait for the release of his first album, let’s discover hes story.

I'd like to start with your story, what allowed you to train yourself musically...

First of all, it was thanks to my family, and in particular my father (Antonio Barbieri) who unfortunately passed away two years ago and to whom I owe so much! He was a bass player and a careful listener of the good music that dates back to his years, especially rock, progressive rock, pop genres, without too much cataloguing, and this gave me the opportunity to look at the music in vast perceptions. Thanks to him I grew up listening to the good music that was produced in years that I did not live, but that influenced me so much. My mother Liliana is a keyboardist and had a psychedelic band with my father in the 1980s. My brother Domenico played drums and my sister Licia sang. The interest in music was almost automatic in a family like this, and at the age of ten I asked my father to take the first guitar lessons, from there I never stopped playing!

How does a girl so distant and far from progressive music can get to progressive music, which temporally speaking is light-years away?

As I mentioned, this was possible thanks to my family and in particular to my father, who was such a fan of this music; I still remember when I was five years old he was driving and I was with him, and thanks to him I listened to Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant... I was fascinated and fantasized a lot looking at the landscapes from the window! Then... they had a room with all instruments, vintage and modern; there they did the rehearsals and I was very curious! Later, I also played with one of my best friends, fellow talented keyboardist, Marisa Cuomo, and Enzo Buono (his engineering approach has been fundamental). With them, for the first time, I practiced this music a lot, after my first experiences with very "heavy" bands.

If we refer to the mere technical point of view, how did you start off and how did your "craft" as a guitarist develop?

This was possible thanks to early studies definitely, and to the auditory curiosity that urged me to approach songs that interested me. I studied them by ear (just by listening to them) and experimented with personal techniques (with the constant strict judgment of my father), and later on, combined the correction of posture of the left hand with some classical guitar lessons, to my personal mood on electric.

Are there any musicians you can consider your unmovable landmarks?

Sure! Guitarists or artists such as David Gilmour, Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett, Franco Mussida, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Steven Wilson, PFM, ELP, Led Zeppelin, Doors, Dimebag Darrell, Osanna, Jakko Jaksyk, Guthrie Govan, Beatles, Deep Purple and many others.

Let’s keep talking about the world of guitar. What guitars do you normally use?

If you've seen any of my videos, you've noticed a yellow guitar,  which is a Peavey Wolfgang Special Van Halen, but now only Suhr Modern for the electric sound,  and Godin - ACS Cedar Natural SG, which is an electrified classic guitar.

Tell me about what kind of feedback you’ve been receiving so far. What’s the one that gave you the biggest satisfaction?

The greatest musical satisfactions comes mainly from the words of great masters and personal heroes: the compliments via Facebook comment by Franco Mussida for my cover of "Celebration" (PFM), the mention of Robert Fripp on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of King Crimson in London, who asked my great friend and journalist Alessandro Staiti my namewhile answering a question during an interview:

"You could consider a woman in the interview. Not as a woman, but as a good musician. Sometimes I feel that the King Crimsons are too masculine." Fripp replies: "“I agree! The choice of members is not arbitrary. I saw This King Crimson on the evening of June 22,2013. And I saw seven musicians, one by one specifically and individually, and they were all men. If they had all been women, I would have choosen them for King Crimson. But the story is longer: on June 22,2013 evening I wondered:  if King Crimson have to play tomorrow, what kind of band would have to be? If I had seen a woman, surely, I would have called her. But It is not arbitrary. If we see something, this became possible. If not, there will be disorder. Life is chaotic. If I saw something clearly, that thing will become available.  Are we open to women members of the band? Sure, it they're the right women in the right time, right place and right circumstance. And there is a wonderful woman, Italian woman, what's her name Alessandro? (Alessandro Staiti) "Maria Barbieri", Yes Maria Barbieri that plays "Larks Tongues In Aspic Part Two".  But she didn't spring to mind on June 22,2013. If she had, I would have made the call. She is doing a great job!”

Then, having met in person some of these great exponents that I value very much, such as the singer and guitarist Jakko Jaksyk after the concert of King Crimson in Verona in July 2019, on the occasion of the After Show. Let's not forget Lino Vairetti who immediately showed a lot of respect and kindness, inviting me to play a couple of songs with Osanna on his birthday!
Then, of course, the tangible and recent satisfactions such as the record interest of international characters in America after the first official creative attempt.

Talking about satisfaction… The excitement of going into a trance while performing my solos: I feel the emotion shared with the audience... or the applause and greetings!
For example, playing Pink Floyd's "Echoes" at the Di Costanzo Mattiello theatre in Pompeii was a great satisfaction! While I was playing, I was thinking about the video of the English band shot in the digs nearby! There was something magical and I felt it!
I had a lot of fun in some Big Bands, first with Guido Russo, then another fascinating experience was collaborating with Leonardo De Lorenzo's Vesuvian Jazz Society, recording for his album and playing live for some Festivals.

Starting with Fripp's quote for "your "Larks' Tongues In Aspic" rendition, it's natural to ask you how you got there and what does the music of King Crimson represent to you...

I can say that King Crimson is my favorite band of all times and I fell in love with them at the age of fifteen; my father had different materials between records, vinyl and videos on his pc! I would often go snooping around and choose songs to put on my mp3 player... usually songs not understood by my peers at school, who saw me as a strange and absorbed girl in her world! For me King Crimson represent mystery, depth, genius, discipline, emotion, technical fluidity, intensity - a unique and immortal way of perceiving! I listen to them often and they always make me literally go crazy and "travel" so much!

Let's talk a little bit about your future projects... I know you're preparing for the release of your first album. Tell me about it (genre, messages, collaborations)?

Yes... it all started with the meeting with the legendary sessionman Guido Russo, historical Neapolitan bass player! We met in a Big Band project... I have a great musical and human esteem for him! I was starting to compose several instrumental pieces and I absolutely wanted to put on a particular trio to realize the ideas that were developing (in the wake of progressive, ambient, jazzy, dreamy harmonies, some pop-funk, but with particular rhythmic approaches, unusual, and intriguing interweaving, with references also to classical and contemporary music). His enthusiasm was fundamental, he always showed great energy, inventiveness, professionalism and feeling with what I was beginning to imagine! After several rehearsals, another great musician, Leonardo De Lorenzo, drummer, composer and jazz drum teacher at the Nicola Sala Conservatory (BN), who defined the sound of the "Maria Barbieri Reflection Trio" with particular creativity and taste. Last summer we recorded the songs from Elios Audiovisual Recordings (Carlo Gentiletti): mastering and mixing was done in Canada, and I'm in contact with a producer in Vancouver. It can be said that spending time with musicians of this caliber has been and continues to be an essential element of my training and inspiration! Definitely for a fact of age and experience, dealing with older and better-prepared people helps a lot and is incredibly inspiring! I composed seven tracks, while the other three are creations by Guido and Leonardo for a total of ten tracks. I'm in production, and when we're closer to the publishing phase I'll reveal a lot of details... For now, we're crossing our fingers... you have to wait because of the complications due to the Covid-19!

What does it mean to you… is it a starting point or the first balance of musical life?

Definitely a starting point... but also budget: it was a very instinctive work, the first for which I invested seriously also from an economical point of view and that concerned my compositions, this allowed, at the same time, to take stock of previous collaborations that included basic work as a shift worker. It developed with greater intensity after some tragic elements of my life... among them, the loss of my father! Even for this infinite love that I have towards him, I am very determined to strive to reach new goals, to study to improve myself more and more, and to communicate in the best way I can what I would like to convey to other people, leaving a trace of me. My father always wanted me to walk this musical path... this common direction will keep us together forever! Now there is my mother who listens to all the works with pleasure and perseverance!

How much do you love the live stage?

A lot... when you’re on stage you can receive different conditionings... you can feel the energies and, above all, you can get excited the moment you reach an awareness, even if instantaneous, of having given a feeling that pervades us!
Also, sometimes it’s also exciting to understand music intimately... maybe alone in your own room! I think that the balance between the two dimensions is fundamental, and how the recollection allows to express itself better live, so the comparison with the audience allows you to perceive other nuances of the music itself!

Did this period of collective difficulty lead you to some particular reflection on music and everything around it?

Yes... I believe the music is  supports me during some moments of culling that I think is common to all of us at this time, where in addition to the continuous threat that we perceive, there are added uncertainties and concerns for the future, as well as being away from many people we love... There’s many projects that were coming to fruition but which necessarily have been postponed. I continue to play, compose and have hope!

Thanks Maria, look forward to the release of your album!

Other genre ... same result ...