Francesco Bearzatti’s latest album, “This Machine Kills Fascists”, is a tribute to Woody Guthrie (the words this machine kills fascists were a message he wrote on his guitar in 1941). Due for release on CAM JAZZ on 16 October, Bearzatti is with his Tinissima 4et (including Giovanni Falzone on trumpet, Danilo Gallo on bass and Zeno De Rossi on drums). After “Tina Modotti” (2008), “Malcom X” (released in 2010 and having won a number of awards, such as the Top Jazz award and others) and the successful interlude of Monk’N’Roll (an album released on CAM Jazz in 2013, that reinterpreted Monk’s themes by interlacing them with some of the most popular songs in the history of rock music), the saxophonist is back to musically depicting the life, art and times of another rebellious, unruly artist who has sung about the United States of the Great Depression, union struggles and hopes in the New Deal. The other America, that of folk and blues, all filtered through the perception of Francesco Bearzatti and a quartet that has already gained its place in jazz history. Woody Guthrie is America’s greatest, most extreme folk singer-songwriter, an intellectual, novelist and political activist, who depicted the working class and outcasts, always siding against the iniquities of politicians and capitalists. His legacy affected all the folk and protest songs from then on, from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg and The Clash. Moving through painful blues and frenzied tracks, this album is a musical journey that starts from Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma, and winds its way through sandstorms, wanderings by train, ragged clothes and New York. It ends with a piece dedicated to Sacco & Vanzetti (for whom Guthrie had written a compilation) and with the only non-original piece here, a reinterpretation of “This Land Is Your Land”, that exemplifies Guthrie’s poetry – halfway between a declaration of love for his homeland and a caustic argument against private ownership – and clearly states his vision based on solidarity and sharing:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
The wide-ranging sonic palette in this album enhances Tinissima 4et’s usual, distinctive strength through elements from the American folk tradition of the 30’s and 40’s, deeply resounding notes that call Guthrie’s words to mind. This recording is a strong statement by Bearzatti, in these days of severe, harsh social inequalities.
DownBeat Magazine: Best Album (2016)
Recorded and mixed in Cavalicco on 27 - 28 April 2015 at Artesuono Recording Studio
Recording & mixing engineer Stefano Amerio
Photos by Andrea Boccalini