The legendary Italian pianist shares the records that made him
Revolver by The Beatles
When I think of great records, I think of my childhood, those were really exciting times for records. My sisters were a bit older than me and through them, I discovered a lot of beautiful music. The first album I can remember very clearly is Revolver by The Beatles. Like for many other people at the time, they represented change to me—they brought colour, joy and energy into my life through their lyrics, songs and great vibes.
They just combined such diverse influences, like avant garde, classical music, Eastern music, Indian music in such a joyful, irresistible way. They inspired my life and I still listen to them today, and they still bring back the same emotions that I experienced when I was ten.
Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix
I love Jimi Hendrix because the sound he brought was just wild, I feel like it was almost supernatural. His music was a mixture of rock, psychedelia and blues, but there was something bigger than him that he was bringing into music, there was this wild vibe which spoke to his generation and really woke it up in a way.
I was 12 when I discovered Are You Experienced and I was interested in the totality of music just as I am now. I think it was my mother who passed on to me this passion for looking at things from a broader perspective. She used to play a lot of classical music at home but she also loved The Rolling Stones, and was still listening to U2 in her seventies. She had a really open mind and encouraged me not to pigeonhole music and just to enjoy what is good.
In a Silent Way by Miles Davis
You can pick any track from this record and it’s absolutely beautiful. I think the title is really fitting because it is indeed a very silent album with a very open vibe. It opens your eyes to a deeper, longer and wider perspective than any other of his albums.
Sure, I enjoy the more traditional, and funkier ones, but In a Silent Way really speaks to my sensibility and when I think of my own music, there’s a strong connection there. It’s an album where he was exploring a lot more than on his other records; it was also a shift from a more traditional style of jazz based on this theme-solo-theme-solo structure into music with a less defined form. There was a form but everything was sort of floating in space, and he was very carefully calibrating the notes he was playing, without telling too much. He left a lot of space in between the notes.
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons by Janine Jansen
I was in Berlin a few years ago promoting my album Una Mattina and at the same time, Universal was also presenting The Four Seasons by the Dutch violinist Janine Jansen and an ensemble. I just loved the power of her performance which you can also feel on the recording.
I wrote my piece Primavera at the time which was inspired by one of the movements of the Four Seasons, I think it’s “Winter”. It’s so powerful—you can really feel the physicality of the music, the power of every single string just resonates with you and you begin to feel like you’re a part of the music, like you yourself are one of those strings.
Sign O’ The Times by Prince
I think Prince’s entire career was brilliant, but for me, the Sign O’ The Times era was his greatest. He could do it all; great composer, performer, dancer, guitar player, vocalist—I think we only get one Prince every 200 years, no more than that.
I saw him live when he came to Italy with the Sign O’ The Times tour, and he was just amazing. There was a rotating stage, so many different things happening at the same time, it was just wild, rich and psychedelic.
I was so sad when he died—probably the saddest I’d been in my life when someone I didn’t personally know passed away. When I found out, I was in Lisbon for a concert. I heard the news in the afternoon and I was so sad during the sound check and I played an improvisation around his beautiful song “Sometimes It Snows in April”.
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