In the spectacular setting of the ex-convent of Santa Chiara in the heart of the city of Piacenza, Gegè Telesforo, the enigmatic singer, instrumentalist, composer and producer, well known radio dj and tv presenter, returns with a crack band ready to unleash his ‘Big Mama Legacy’ on an appreciative and receptive audience. The concert is part of Piacenza Summer Jazz Festival, that has been a great success so far, with concerts organised and taking place in many of the splendid piazzas that can be found in this lesser-known locality of northern Italy.

As Gegè explains onstage, tonight’s musical project is a throwback to the blues/ jazz - groovy period of the late 50’s, let loose under the ‘Big Mama’ banner which aims to celebrate the now, sadly, demised club of the same name that was found in the heart of the Trastevere neighbourhood of Rome.
It is also a showcase for the young and oh so talented musicians that share the stage with him tonight, whom he has decided to cajole and then, under his wing, promote to the fore as is his want to do; admirable in his intent in finding and then giving a platform to upcoming young Italian jazz artists.

The band are GeGè Telesforo on vocals & percussion, the Cutello brothers from Foggia Matteo Cutello trumpet & Giovanni Cutello sax, Christian Mascetta on guitar and indeed composer, with Gegè, of many of the new songs played tonight, Vittorio Solimene organ e keyboards, Michele Santoleri drums.
They are tight, but so tight and focused that Gegè feels free to almost play around with them, changing tempos and sound dynamics at will onstage, to test and provoke them almost into proving their worth and ability. It’s fun to watch and an absolute pleasure to hear.

Cool funky rhythms and grooves with Vittorio’s Viscount Legend organ setting the tone of most songs, the smiling drummer MS, technically brilliant and able to play subtle and pulsating, zippy beats. The brothers from Foggia; outstanding and engaging musicians, who grew up playing in their little, local village band and yet somehow ended up at Berkeley University on free scholarships to study music: CM’s guitar playing ranging in style from Hendrix to Metheny with ease and confidence. Gegè, with his scat and vocal improvisation and jamming abilities, then adds the sugar and spice needed, and so brings that final satisfying texture to the whole chebang.
It’s a winning formula and songs like “ Groove Master Shuffle”, “ Big Mamma”, “ Jamming The Night” and “So Cool”, laced with melodic beats and their blues/funk pulse make the evening a success, charming; indeed, somewhat magical.

Gegè and the band leave the stage to rapturous applause after a couple of encores; the band with their sheepish smiles and twinkling eyes know that it’s been a great gig.

Photo credit: Angelo Bardini