Markus Stockhausen: trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn
Lino Capra Vaccina: percussions, gong, timpani, vibraphone
Alireza Mortazavi: santur
Luca Formentini: guitars
Legendary trumpet of contemporary jazz and classical music, Markus Stockhausen has recorded works under his own name for ECM in various contexts, after having embarked on a formidable career since he was a child, following his father, the legendary Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. In more recent times Markus has met another legend of minimalism, Lino Capra Vaccina, Franco Battiato's right-hand man, former founder of the seminal ensemble Aktuala, with whom he has produced an intimate and persuasive, mystical and enchanted music, with which he has been able to paint the colors of the night like no one else before, in wonderful sound arabesques. The two giants of new music are joined by the young Persian Alireza Mortazavi, the undisputed master of the Santur (an ancient Persian instrument), and the incredible visionary guitarist Luca Formentini. The trio has recently recorded an album for the Dark Companion label, "Free Spirits", with which the duo Stockhausen / Mortazavi had already recorded "Hamdelaneh", an album that has received - like "Free Spitits" - the unanimous and enthusiastic applause of international critics.
Markus Stockhausen, born in 1957, trumpeter and composer, began playing the piano at the age of six. Since 1975 he has studied piano and trumpet at the Cologne University of Music with Robert Platt and Manfred Schoof, but also with Pierre Thibauld, Thomas Stevens and Carmine Caruso. For 25 years he gave concerts with his father, the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who wrote many operas for him. As a trumpet player he performs regularly internationally and has performed on many prestigious stages including those of La Scala in Milan, London Opera Covent Garden and the Leipzig Opera. He has composed, among others, for the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, the Metropole Orkest, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 he was awarded the WDR Jazz Prize as best improviser and in 2017 the 'Silbene Diapason' prize and the JTI Jazz Award, while in 2018 he received the Echo Jazz Prize, and in 2021 the German Jazz Prize as best improviser and best brass player. He holds seminars on the topics of "Intuitive Music and Beyond", "Creative Sound of the Trumpet" and, for many years, "Song and Silence – When the Soul Sings". "Transformation through sound" is his recurring theme, because it deals not only with musical content, but also with the formation of consciousness, empathy and the development of spirituality. More than 90 CDs document Markus Stockhausen's work on labels such as ECM, o-tone music, Enja, EMI Classics, Sony, Aktivraum, Stockhausen-Verlag, ACT.
Lino Capra Vaccina, born in 1953, began his artistic career at a very young age. In 1971 he co-founded the group Aktuala with Walter Majoli, in which he played percussion and recorded some albums considered fundamental for the definition of the Italian avant-garde genre. Later he collaborated with Juri Camisasca making several concerts and recordings. He dedicated himself to the study of percussion, piano, composition, history of music and choral singing at the Civica Scuola di Musica in Milan, which led him to collaborate with the singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, contributing to the composition of his experimental albums of the period and as a percussionist. In 1975 he co-founded – together with Battiato, Camisasca and other musicians – the group Telaio Magnetico. In 1978 he released his first solo instrumental album "Adagio Adagio" which crosses various musical genres. In it he codifies his Compositional-Sound-Musical language: an original mix made of minimalism, experimentation and avant-garde that consecrates him as the father of European Minimalism. In the same period he returned to play live in various spaces dedicated to avant-garde music and as a headiner at the third festival of "occult-psychedelic" music in Thalassa (USA). From 1979 to 1985, Lino was percussionist in the orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala. In the nineties he released the albums "L'attesa" and "In cammino tra sette cieli" (1994). His collaborations include those in 1980 with Alice for the album "Capo Nord", in which he played timpani, in 1981 with Giuni Russo for "Energie" and with Battiato for "Mondi lontanissimi", in which he played tabla. In 2015 he actively returned to making music by recording two albums for the Dark Companion label ("Arcaico armónico" – 2015, and "Metafisica del Suono" – 2017), both produced by Max Marchini. In 2018, again for the same label, the quartet's album with Keith Tippett, Julie Tippetts and Paolo Tofani was released, recorded live in Piacenza and in the same year he collaborated with John Greaves (ex Henry Cow) for a song written and played in duo that will appear on the latter's album "Life Size", released by Manticore Records. His latest recording work is the very recent "Sincretico Modale" of 2022. In 2023 he 'locked' himself in the Elfo studios in Tavernago together with producer Max Marchini to fully explore analog synthesizers, instruments already used in the early 70s together with Franco Battiato. The resulting album, scheduled for release in 2024 also for Dark Companion, will be called "Syn*Thesis".
Alireza Mortazavi. When he was only 7 years old, his parents helped him to undertake the study of the Santur. He is considered a musician with extraordinary skill in the performance of works of Persian classical music and this is confirmed by the numerous awards given to him from a young age. The contact with Western music has allowed him to acquire a personal style that evolves towards modern and contemporary music. From 2001 to 2003 he studied musicology in Cremona and began his concert career in Europe. He has participated in numerous festivals and was invited to the Tanz&FolkFest in Rudolstadt (now TFF Festival) in Germany where he was selected for the Ruth Prize nomination. Returning to Iran in 2003, Alireza continued his activity by cultivating his art in an intellectual circuit of artists with whom he shared a taste for a new artistic trend, as evidenced by his interviews in cultural magazines including Arte della musica and the newspaper Shargh. In these years he also dedicated himself to musical research and to the conception of a Santur-piano, which allowed him to have all the notes of the Western chromatic scale and therefore a wide range of chromatic solutions and sounds. In 2007 he was invited to Germany for a series of concerts with the exceptional percussionist Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, including the Total Music Meeting 'festival of improvisational music'. In the summer of 2012 he returned to live in Italy, in Turin, where he was involved in a musicological research project at the Dams. He boasts numerous appearances on Italian radio stations and concerts both in Italy and Germany, collaborations with high-level musicians and conductors who consider his work of great value, including Franco Battiato and the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic Orchestra of Parma, with whom he has performed on several occasions.
Luca Formentini was born and raised in Brescia. He currently lives in San Martino della Battaglia, where he produces wines in the family winery for which he has been awarded as one of the top 100 Italian wine producers. He is a sustainability activist. He had his first musical contact with the piano at the age of ten and started playing the guitar at 14. He formed his first band with Francesco Renga; after the break-up of Modus Vivendi he collaborated with members of other bands such as Art Fleury and Dietrich. He took part in the international community called Looper's Delight, based on mutual interest in Looping devices and techniques. His early solo compositions have appeared in publications such as those of the international experimental collective CT-Collective. His first solo album is "Subterraneans" (2003), followed by "Tacet" (2007). After a few collaborations he returned to solo releases in 2018 with "Scintilla", "Art Spaces Vol1" (2020) and "Intra" (2021). He has performed live and recorded with artists ranging in many musical contexts. In the early 2000s he began an intense live activity, which led him to play in the United States, Japan and Europe. In 2011 he collaborated with producer and sound engineer Stefano Castagna to create the "Flos" project, based on self-made instruments made from recycled objects.
"Lino and Markus always had great respect for each other, but it wasn’t until they were brought together in a recording studio that they each immediately recognized a like-minded spirit and produced music that is truly exceptional. Alireza joined them shortly after and so did the amazing guitarscape visionary guy Luca Formentini. Both have previously worked with Stockhausen and Vaccina separately. All four musicians musicians are sensitive in their own way and at the same time intense, fiercely independent and yet sympathetic and finely attuned to each other. It was a revelation both to them and to those present at the session to hear the way they worked together, how closely their characters matched and the music evolved as naturally as if they had been playing together for years.The sound ambience often seems sparse, understated and yet is vibrant and welcoming. The timbres of the three instruments create an uncommon ensemble. Lino’s choices of instruments are unexpected and his ideas beautiful whilst maintaining an almost ritualistic feel. As is Alireza’s approach to performances on the santoor; his sensitivity is remarkable and completely in sympathy with his fellow musicians, while on some tracks choosing completely unconventional ways of playing his instrument. Markus too astonishes yet again with his very personal sound and effortless skill to spin infinite melodic inventions and variations on spontaneous ideas. Luca’s landscapes, as you can hear on their last release for Dark Companion, "Rêverie", is an emotional voyage in to the dimmer side of soul.Together they converse in a shared musical language, alternating between profound and sweetly tender exchanges to produce music very much of the moment but also – incredibly – an undisputedly durable music demanding repeated listening. It’s an entirely spontaneous method of composition bordering on alchemy. Call it Art music, or better still, Free Spirits at play." Paul Roland