Luciana Morelli “Lo abismal, el agua”

ears&eyes Records, 2021

Release date: 14th of May, 2021

These songs were written at the crossroads, at a point of no return, in a tide of change, in the search for the unexpected, between uncertainty and euphoria, in a process that led me to emigrate from Argentina to Switzerland (even without knowing it) and from which I continue to learn. Each song is, in a way, an episode of this story and a call to be like water so that, with resilience and a lot of love, we know how to confront ourselves with the abysmal of these times.   

LUCIANA MORELLI is an Argentine singer, performer, and composer. She currently lives in Basel, Switzerland, where she was awarded a scholarship to study a master’s degree in Jazz Performance. Her musical tastes range from jazz to folk, including improvised and experimental music. She is a very curious artist who likes to explore different artistic disciplines and is interested in the relationship between aesthetics and politics. She is a professor of Combined Arts, graduated from the University of Buenos Aires. She worked as a teacher in art schools and wrote about contemporary Argentine theater and cinema in specialized magazines and websites. She also worked in theater as an actress and as a composer. Her last work was the music for “Suyay” (2020), a monologue by Pilar Ruiz currently playing at the Moscú theater in Buenos Aires.

Some of her most important musical projects were Luciana Morelli quintet (2012-2015), with which she recorded her first album “Mandala” of jazz standards and own compositions and participated in the cycle Música en Bares Notables and the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Jazz 2015, and Jazz at the movies (2015-2019), an audiovisual show of jazz and cinema that had a weekly cycle at Bebop Club and participated in the prestigious cycle Jazzología at the CC General San Martín and the cycle Música en Bares Notables 2018. 

  Since 2020, she leads a new group in which she explores her Argentine roots and her connection with jazz and improvised music, integrated by Philipp Hillebrand (Switzerland) on clarinet and bass clarinet, Mauricio Silva Orendain (Mexico) on piano, Sebastián de Urquiza (Argentina) on double bass and Paulo Almeida (Brazil) on drums.

   Their latest album, “Lo abismal, el agua”, is an album of her own compositions inspired by texts, travels, photographs, dreams, and experiences related to migration and nature. Its name refers to a hexagram from the “I-Ching, the book of mutations”. The album will be released through Ears and Eyes records and will have a special limited physical edition designed by Nacho Morelli, with photographs and artwork by Jazmín Nogueira.

About the music:

 The first track of the album, “Viaje”, started in 2018 when I was studying in Edgardo Cardozo’s workshop. He asked us to make lists of words to use in our lyrics… I was about to embark on my first trip to Switzerland and decided to use that theme as a starting point. I wrote words related to traveling, and the sensations that this road to the unknown produced in me. Then I tried to write a lyric using those words but all that came out were very cheesy and melancholic phrases. Then I decided I had to do something crazier. I wrote the words one by one on a piece of paper and cut them out. Then, I put them in a bag, mixed them up and took them out, and put them together in sentences like a surrealist exquisite corpse in the style of Tristan Tzara, or as Luis Alberto Spinetta did in the lyrics of “Por”. Then, I was putting together sentences with that random tinge but also thinking of metaphorical and interesting images. I took this song back in 2020, reharmonized it, updated the lyrics, and arranged it for my new band. Its structure is like a mirror that refers to a before and an after, to Buenos Aires in the first part, to Basel in the second. It starts with a farewell, the memories, the fear, but also the desire to pursue a dream; and continues in Basel, where the seasons are reversed, and the adventure begins.

“Ardor de Mar” is one of the oldest compositions that I rescued from an old notebook and arranged for this album. I wrote it in 2016 when I had returned from working as a singer on a cruise ship going around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. It had been my first time out of the continent and, leaving out the criticism of the cruises themselves, it was an experience that changed my life completely. The figure of travel runs through my art because traveling is for me a transforming and learning experience. On that trip, I had a great (re)connection with myself, with my essence, with my desire. When I returned to the city, after 5 months at sea, I felt completely empowered but everything fell apart. I separated from who was my partner at the time, I confronted myself and made the decision to go for it all. It was painful at first, but I understood that that desire that I had connected with the sea, had nothing to do with the outside, no matter where I was, it was part of me and I had to listen to it or I was going to feel dead inside. So that song is about discovering or rediscovering one’s own desire, that which moves us and belongs to us, which is part of each of us and which we must nurture and take care of. It can be difficult but in the end, it is always satisfying and empowering.

“Fotografía de Guerra”, is another journey, this time in time, starting from a photograph of my great-grandfather Gaetano Morelli in World War II. My grandfather always told us stories about him, of when he was hijacked by an American ship in Africa, when he stole food from the basement and when he almost died in combat. I had always found his brother’s stories to be far-fetched but intriguing. One day we were in the backyard of his house in Banfield and my grandfather walks into the house and comes out with a picture in his hand. He says to us: this is my brother Gaetano when he went to war. I took the photo in my hands and I was surprised to see that this great adventurer of the stories, was nothing more than a child. A boy in a uniform, a boy who was sent to someone else’s war. This child inspired many questions about wars, memory, and memories that led to the lyrics and melody of “Fotografía de Guerra”. The composition process started with voice and percussion and then I added the rest.

The fourth track is “Eclipse en Barcelona” and again the trip appears, I was in Barcelona, a summer in which I had decided to leave Buenos Aires and try my luck in my favorite city. But everything went wrong, things were not flowing and every step I took was like swimming against the current. The tarot said: God’s mansion (the image of a house falling apart). Still, I was waiting for signs from the universe and went up to Carmel to see the 2018 eclipse. Everyone was there, some people had prepared their professional cameras, others had taken food as in a picnic, we were all waiting for the big event. But… in a few seconds, the whole sky clouded over, and the long-awaited eclipse was never seen. I went back home disappointed and when I returned to Zurich (where I had been living for a few months), I wrote that letter in which I questioned everything and tried to understand what led me to undertake that trip as forced as improvised.

Back in Buenos Aires. It was a hot January afternoon and it was raining heavily. Sitting at the piano, I picked up a book at random and opened it to a random page. I read: “Lo abismal, el agua”, and started improvising melodies using the text as lyrics. The book was the “I-Ching, the book of mutations”, and those words came to me at the right time: “Water reaches its goal by flowing without interruption”. All my efforts to restart my life in Barcelona had been forced. All that was left was to wait, all that was left was to be like water. In the end, the song ended up being instrumental with moments of lyrics, but I think it preserves, in the melody and arrangement, the images of the text. In a few months, fate brought me to Basel. Again, another city, another look. The song began to take on multiple meanings and today it is the song that echoes in me the most and guides me in difficult moments.

 “Serendipia” is an instrumental theme that, as its title indicates, was serendipity in itself. I composed this track unintentionally, I found it while I was looking for something else and I thought it was very nice. On the album Philipp and I sometimes play the melody in unison, other times he draws some lines behind or fills in the melody. It makes me happy to be able to share my project with someone who is also my life partner. Playing this melody together is very symbolic for me because I think he is my true serendipity.

In Basel, and all over Switzerland, people give away everything. Everything I have in my house is given away, I didn’t buy a single piece of furniture. So it was that in my first month in Basel, I needed a bedside lamp and someone was giving away a very nice one but I had to go to a place called Bettingen to get it (going to look for gifts is one of my favorite ways to get to know the city), so I went there. It turns out that Basel is a city on the border with Germany and France, and Bettingen is very close to Germany. I saw that the bus I was supposed to take passed through a forest very close to the border. Since I had time, I thought I would go for a walk in this forest. It was a beautiful forest, immense, and the leaves of the trees shone with an incredible green because it had rained in the morning and the whole forest was like glistening and with that smell of wet earth. I went deeper and deeper into the forest, enchanted by everything I was discovering until I got lost. I pulled out a map and discovered that somehow I was in Germany. I came out of the forest and looking closely, I could see a rope in the middle of a field. That rope separated Switzerland from Germany. It seemed so absurd to me that I laughed, but it also made me sad. When I got back to the city, I wrote the lyrics for “Two Sides”. The theme of the forest and the mysterious yet beautiful nature led me to look to Norma Winstone’s music for the colors of harmony. For the introduction and interludes, I composed a vamp with a melody that plays with rhythm and irregular structure, also trying to reflect the “two sides”.

 Finally, “Verde y amarillo” is a track that I also put together from percussion and vocals and then added the rest, and it also went through several stages of trasformacioón. I started it in 2018 and we worked on it a lot with the trio I had in Buenos Aires. From there came the first ideas of motifs, the vocals, and the structure that later derived in the arrangement I made for the album. The lyrics talk about forcing processes: “I made blue out of green and yellow (…) and I wanted to see signs in the black (…)”, and for the arrangement, I based myself on the songs of Puente Celeste, a group that has a great influence on my music.

The Band:

  • Luciana Morelli (Argentina)- vocals and composition (from Luciana Morelli quinteto, Jazz at the Movies)
  • Philipp Hillebrand (Switzerland) – clarinet/bass clarinet (from Silent Neighbor, Ymonos, La Mome)
  • Mauricio Silva Orendain (Mexico) – piano (from Mauricio Silva Trio, Mauricio Silva Ensemble)
  • Sebastián de Urquiza (Argentina) – bass and backing vocals (from Sebastián de Urquiza quinteto, Focusyear Band 19/20, Mariana Iturri grupo)
  • Paulo Almeida (Brasil) – drums (from Hermeto Pascoal, Arismar do Espirito Santo, Vinnicius Dorin, Gabriel Grossi, Filó Machado, Tony Lakatos y Heraldo de Monte)



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