Lisa Marie Simmons is one of the many musicians and creative artists who are refusing to let the global coronavirus pandemic interfere with their urge to create new work.
Simmons and her band, Note Speak, have released their new album, Amori E Tragedie In Musica, despite having to cancel their planned tours of Europe and the US due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Like so many artists and creative people in the world right now, Note Speak have had to grapple with how to promote themselves and their work amid Government-imposed lockdown measures. Based in Italy, Simmons told Nothing in the Rulebook that “everything is closed, with just pharmacies and supermarkets open for a few hours during the day. And to add tot hat, the media is contributing to mass panic and prison riots.”
Amid such an unprecedented situation, then, at least some positive can be drawn from the reception to Note Speak’s new album.
Described by composer, musician and poet, Regina Harris Baiocchi, as “poetic mastery of sound and silence”, Baiocchi says that Amori E Tragedie In Musica should allow Simmons and the band to forge “their rightful place in the annals of music history.”
Weaving spoken word, jazz, R&B, and funk into one genre-bending album, Simmons headlines as lead vocalist, composer and lyricist, while Marco Cremaschini is the project’s co-composer, pianist, and music director.
Over the course of the album, Simmons’ vocals are joined by those of joined two other singers, Machan Taylor and Miles Simmons. Accompanying the vocals, you find trumpeter Fulvio Sigurtà and his rich, bell-tone sound on three tracks. Violinist Laura Masotto channels Paganini and Stuff Smith via Regina Carter without sacrificing her formidable identity. Guido Bombardieri’s haunting bass clarinet and alto saxophone move across Eric Dolphy’s altar.
Meanwhile, Marco Cremaschini (keys), Joy Grifoni (upright bass), Marco Cocconi (electric bass), percussionists Valerio Abeni (drums), Maurizio Giannone (percussion), Marco Mondini (cajón), and Valeria Bonazzoli (udu) anchor the band with inventive colors worth hearing again and again.
To underline just how good this new album is, Baiocchi points to the passion, energy and inspiration behind it, as she says:
“Some artists troll outside themselves for inspiration but Lisa Marie’s poetry sacrifices a quart of her own blood. Her voice is honey-soaked Sista wit that defies category: think Fat Beats & Brastraps with choral roots siphoned through Milano—and you’re in the ballpark. Lisa Marie Simmons, Marco Cremaschini & Company create delicious music that makes manna taste like table scraps.”
With praise like that, there’s little doubt that fans will be in for a treat as and when lockdown restrictions are lifted and Note Speak can once again tour the globe. But in the meantime, Simmons and company remain upbeat and creative as ever, and you’ll be able to catch them in Nothing in the Rulebook‘s ‘Lockdown Lit’ video anthology project (launching later in April).