eMPathia Jazz Duo
Looking back at the countless attempts to describe Jazz in the ensuing generations since that trumpet from New Orleans set north, drum beats are probably the most commonly cited reference.
How then do we use the term Jazz in the name of a vocal and guitar duo?
The eMPathia Jazz Duo comprised of vocalist Mafalda Minnozzi and guitarist Paul Ricci answer that question with spontaneous melodic variations improvised around a popular song while uniquely arranged harmonic templates shift accordingly to the pacing and breathing of the moment. Each signature performance is not unlike those songs from the days when Jazz merged from the popular song via a soulful story told with individual expression.
Drawing from the vast experience of both the duo’s artists, their present day popular song is expanded to include classics from Brazil, Italy, France and the U.S.A.
Italian born singer Minnozzi has an impressive recording career predominantly in Brasil where for 20 years she has made a name for herself via 10 CD’s, 2 DVD’s, numerous major network TV appearances and noted duets with the likes of Milton Nascimento, Martinho Da Vila, Paulo Moura, Leny Andrade and Guinga to name a few. Her extensive touring throughout Brazil has established her as a remarkably charismatic and powerful stage performer with a vocal extension and versatile timbral palette that blurs the line between singer and improvisational soloist. Her command of Portuguese and credibility in the Brazilian music scene have given her the artistic license to introduce a unique and possibly Italian way of interpreting the Bossa Nova and Samba and to even play percussion on some songs. As a lover of the 60’s French born Italian diva Caterina Valente, Mafalda always incorporated the French chanson into her Italian repertoire. Finally in this duo she has incorporated it all with the great American Songbook.
Paul Ricci is a guitarist from New York who’s life in Jazz started at the conservatory and moved to the clubs of NYC as far back as the 80’s playing with Jaki Byard, Mike Clark, Harold Vick, Dennis Irwin, Larry Willis and countless noted sidemen. His experience with Brazilian music led to collaborations with Astrud Gilberto, Edison Machado, Dom Um Romao, Bebel Gilberto and a noted performance by Astrud at the Hollywood Bowl with Roy Haynes, Kenny Barron, Gary Burton and George Mraz. Other later explorations with Latin and African music led to shows with Bobby Sanabria and Harry Belafonte. His solo CD counted on friends such as Steve Jordan, Randy Brecker, Anthony Jackson, Manolo Badrena and others from the Jazz, Latin and African scene in New York. His crossing lines into popular forms in his long associations with Mafalda and award winning composer and singer Kathryn Bostic has resulted in a language unique to the duo’s arrangements and interpretations.
In 2015 Mafalda Minnozzi and Paul Ricci, as the eMPathia Jazz Duo, put their respective musical experiences together in a special meeting of cultures and influences to present a sound that immediately captured the imagination of their audiences at their debut shows in Italy, Brazil and the USA.
The 2015 Italian tour of their debut CD (eMPathia Jazz Duo – MPI 2015) included interviews and favorable reviews in jazz magazines, shows at important festivals (European Jazz Expo on the island of Sardinia), important music halls (Casa del Jazz in Roma), theaters and jazz clubs as well as a nomination for Italy’s prestigious “Targa Tenco” award in the best singer category.
For the Brazilian CD leg of the tour, the duo took to the stages of theaters in the country’s principal capital cities frequently perfoming to packed houses.
A standing ovation from the audience capped off the duo’s presentations in front of New York audiences at New York University’s Zerillo-Marimo Italian cultural institute and their debut show at Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village. The public appreciation and critical acclaim for the eMPathia style inspired the duo so much that they have extended the project with 2 new CD productions in little more than 2 years: “INSIDE” (MPI/ONERPM 2016) and most recently with COOL ROMANTICS (MPI 2017) officially released at the JAZZAHEAD convention in Bremen, Germany.
These last two albums were recorded and produced in New York by Grammy winning producer Jeff Jones whose longstanding collaboration with Wynton Marsalis at Jazz at Lincoln Center is well documented.
In all, the three albums represent a perfect trilogy that document the evolution of the project to arrive at a finished product that was almost pre-destined since its debut.
Mafalda and Paul’s 2016-17 tour in promotion for the album INSIDE was marked by many celebrated appearances among which their show at NY’s legendary club Birdland immediately generated a return date for an unprecedented second concert there in the space of only a few months.
The COOL ROMANTICS tour is looking ahead to an even wider range of audiences in 2017 with its return to familiar, and its exploration of new capitals (Turin, Rio de Janeiro, Munich, Lisbon among others) with the unique and dramatic style of Mafalda Minnozzi and Paul Ricci committing their work to the stage with their markedly original project.