The Ferdie Argenti CD with two trios “Look for the silverlining” is a masterpiece of jazz playing and singing. I can't remember when I heard a pianist who could sing that great and play his tail off at the same time.
Ferdie and I first worked together in 2010 on a project with our friend, guitarist-composer-singer Bob Wolfman and I enjoyed his musical contribution on that project to the max . . . this dude can burn with the best of them.
They say that Jazz is an African-American music, and I agree. But I also say that anybody, any one, who understands what jazz is about can play it. Ferdie is Italian, of course, and in a way, being Italian, with that culture's deep understanding and exposition of art and music, he fits right in with the classic piano greats like Wynton Kelly, Cedar Walton, Bud Powell, and of course, Chick Corea.
Here he does two different versions of Chick's "Friends" and they're fantastic, because one is acoustic piano and instrumental (without voice) and the other is electric piano with voice, with Italian lyrics. Not so sotto voce, eh?
What Ferdie can do that nobody else does (to the extent that he does it) is sing his heart out, and then play his heart out--his vocal and instrumental expressions are equally strong. It's not like he's trying to get a gig at the local Holiday Inn lounge, no!--he belongs in the concert hall!
With his great sidemen, he tears into standards that many of us are famiiar with, like "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise". Ferdie gives that oft-played evergreen a fresh treatment--arranging with different syncopation, and throwing in some never-before-used substitute chords. He leads his trio to a new level of genuine "swingin'" . . . they swing and they swing hard!
But it's Ferdie's originals that really caught my ear; I think the "Walk" and "Soul Hero" are destined to become jazz standards--listen to all those chords Ferdie composed for "Soul Hero"--that's harmonic movement at its best, and the way Ferdie improvises is, as Chick would say, "spot on", i.e. he elucidates his spontaneous ideas with fire and freshness, coupled with an impeccable time-feeling. For Ferdie, "time" is definitely not just a magazine.
What really killed me was Kenwood Dennard's brilliant twelve-bar drum breaks in “The Walk"-- to really get the full gist of what Woody's doing, you have to listen several times--first, listen to the feet, then listen to the ambidextrous arms, then listen one more time to all those elements together to assimilate the full brunt of the distinguished Berklee professor's ingenious technique. Unsurpassed!
But the most emotional and soulful composition from Ferdie on this brilliant date is "Pitero", a paean to his Grandfather. This is a beautiful song in its own right, and the sincerity with which Ferdie delivers (in English, mind you) this heartfelt and personal message is, well, peerless, to say the least.
It's amazing what talented jazz cats can do these days with the basic elements of the music--rhythm, harmony, the melodies and countermelodies; their collective melange become art, and the art becomes magic and is magical.
Jazz recording is and always will be, a permanent document of a particular performing-moment in time. This is what makes it so new, all over again, and again. Ferdinando Argenti has captured a series of spontaneous moments with some like-minded and sympathetic colleagues, and then some. Historically, like Chick did all those years ago with "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs", Ferdie has transformed the multifaceted potential of the piano trio into an artful revelation never heard before. Molto bene, Ferdie and colleagues, grazie mille!
With this project I meant to give new life to some unreleased originals of mine and a few other tunes I always loved and, at the same time, to offer my own tribute to some of my“heroes”in music. Strictly by word association, this brings me to explain the title of Soul Hero.To me, a soul hero is someone who heroically strives to conduct an inner (and therefore outer) peaceful crusade by reaching and tapping into his/her higher soul to continually ameliorate him/herself , and thus the world around, on a spiritual level, in this classroom called life on earth. And being able to “Look for the silver lining” is one of the basic tools for beginning to do just that. That particular song is my tribute to Chet Baker, whose music always reflected purity and beauty in spite of his “troubled” life. I had the fortune of witnessing it while playing a few gigs with him in Italy in the 80s.
“The curse of an aching heart” and (no reference by its title ) is another modest tribute of mine to Frank Sinatra , who recorded it during his most swinging period - our version here is basically a trio reduction of the original Billy May's big band chart).“Oh, you crazy moon”is also in honour to both Frank's and Chet's versions. Both takes of “Friends” are my homage to Chick Corea, who penned the music. I wrote the Italian lyrics to its beautiful melody thinking of a few special “amici” (friends) of mine in the “Old Country”. The Italian song“Cos'hai trovato in lui'”(“What did you find in him?”) is by Bruno Martino (more known in the jazz world for writing “Estate”) . I once had the pleasure to meet him while on a gig in Tuscany.
“Pitero” goes out to the memory of my paternal grandfather Ferdinando (the 1st). Many thanks to the fabulous musicians who joined me for these recordings:
Kenwood Dennard, of Jaco Pastorius' group fame , drummer who also worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, and many others;
Bob Savine, drums (Keely Smith , Mike Metheny , etc.)
Todd Baker, bass,(Rosemary Clooney, Woody Herman,etc..) and
Ron Mahdi, bass (Roy Haynes , Milt Jackson, etc.). Now, softly (as in a morning sunrise) , but ideally as firmly as the walk through life of a soul hero, I encourage all of you, my “amici” to always ”Look for the silver lining”,even during occasional aching hearts. Hopefully, this is NOT the end of a beautiful friendship...just the beginning of love ! :)
Ferdinando “Ferdi” Argenti is an Italian jazz pianist/singer from Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, who has been living in the United States for a couple of decades after travelling the world extensively playing music. He has performed with Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Steve Grossman, Herb Pomeroy, The Artie Shaw Band, Gray Sargent, Greg Hopkins, Matt Garrison, Jeff Ballard, Clive Chaman, Charles Davis, Massimo Urbani, Paolo Fresu, Flavio Boltro,Lance Bryant, and many others. He has performed and recorded with Larry Coryell, Victor Bailey, Kenwood Dennard, Jorge Rossi, Marshall Wood, Marcello Pellitteri, Joshua Redman, Antonio Hart, Enrico Rosa, Cicci Santucci, Bob Wolfman, Dave Mattacks, George Blackmon, and more; this is his third own jazz CD, after the first, simply entitled “Argenti”, and a live album by the Ferdinando Argenti Trio entitled “Live at the Sahara” . He has been featured in concerts and performances, TV shows and radio shows both in Europe and in the USA, and has travelled as far as Japan and Scandinavia for musical engagements and jazz clinics.