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Jazz in Quarantine

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Italian jazz guitarist Eleonora Strino shares the challenges of being a musician in Italy during these difficult times. And check out Eleonora’s new ‘quarantined’ video below.

Eleonora Strino: Yes, the coronavirus effect in Italy was quite devastating. As you know, we are the second country in the world where it has spread, leaving the entire population stunned, terrified and unprepared. The Italian government itself was unprepared, and is trying to sift through the appropriate laws to deal with the situation. The problem, however, is upstream: in Italy, there is a high rate of “illegal work”, and we artists, like many other categories, are not protected. 

jazz guitarist Eleonora Strino and cat
Nancy the cat with Eleonora

In the first phase, the government gave an allowance of 600 euros for the self-employed but I, like many of my other professional colleagues, could not benefit from it.

Now it seems that the government is going to face this problem too and there will be new packages allocated to the so-called “weaker groups”. As a spokesperson for my category, I can say that what has emerged from this crisis is that the Italian music world needs a change at least on a par with other European countries where the profession of musician and artist exists and is protected. 

Just as breaks in music are fundamental, in life too it is necessary to stop.

I hope that when there will be a recovery, each one of us will have a new and different conscience that will inevitably lead to a reform and I don’t say this only as a musician but above all as a human being or even better, as an inhabitant of planet earth. Now we have all had time to see, to really realize how things are going, without the blinkers of the frenzy of our previous life. Now that we’ve seen it, we can no longer ignore it.

As for my time in quarantine, I must say I’m responding rather well. It even seems to me a concession: I can work on my shortcomings, I can deepen aspects that the working world did not fully allow me. I had been thinking for some time about when Sonny Rollins decided to take a break of three years to focus on his personal growth, before creating the incredible album “The Bridge” and Sonny Rollins was already a divine musician! So I don’t see how I shouldn’t do it. As I was saying, very often the pressure of the outside world, the need for money, social relationships, can take over and we are inevitably pushed to just move on.

Of course, I miss playing live already a lot, I’m very sorry for the concerts that have been cancelled. I had many beautiful things planned for this spring: a concert with the orchestra in a beautiful theatre in Milan, the return to Belgium with Greg Cohen, the concerts with the immense Dado Moroni, pride of Italian jazz, concerts with my trio etc.. So at first I was devastated like everyone else, but then I tried to make myself strong and see it as another opportunity.

For me, Music is a continuous research, the primordial energy, the spirit.

When I study, when I play, when I listen to an album, I try to feel inside me the infinite greatness of those who before and at the same time as me, have spent and spend all their lives in dedication and I feel very lucky. Sometimes clearly I am overwhelmed by a feeling of fear because I have very little money aside and I don’t know what will happen to my future and the future of live music. But I still try to take a positive attitude and have hope.

jazz guitarist Eleonora Strino practicing
Lots of practicing…

Talking about the technical aspect: I work a lot on the fluidity of the phrasing, on the right hand, on the time, on the intensity of the notes. Specifically, I’m deepening the minor melodic scales be-bop, some voicings extrapolated from these scales but slightly altered that in my opinion have an incredible sound. I’m dissecting one of the pentatonic scales played by Coltrane that I like very much. Then I’m always transcribing but I’ve discovered that I find it much more difficult to “pull down” the guitarists’ solos than the pianists’ ones. Pianists like Hampton Hawes, Oscar Peterson, Red Garland, I find them quite easy to transcribe. Instead, I tried to take down several of Wes Montgomery’s live solos, trying to use his fingering and I found it much more difficult.
At the same time I study singing and I’m finally putting my songs together! 

Jazz Guitar Today: We thank Eleonora for her contribution – stay safe!

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