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MaidenItaly Bring 1930s Italian Swing to Boston Area

Boston is quickly becoming home to a number of excellent Italian musicians and artists. Among them, a new trio focusing on 1930s Italian swing is ready to make its debut on Nov. 20 at Cambridge’s Ryles Jazz Club.

Here is our exclusive interview with the group:

Who are MaidenItaly, and how did you meet?

logo-maidenitalyMaidenItaly are Marta Rainoldi, Giorgia Renosto and Mariana J Rigel. We are all Berklee College of Music alumni, and initially connected through the large Beklee community of fellow musicians and friends.

While we had been throwing around the idea of founding MaidenItaly for a while, Mariana’s final recital at Berklee was when it all came together. She used this opportunity to feature a sample of this great repertoire and explore the impact on the audience: she co-arranged a medley of pieces by the Trio Lescano, and it became the recital’s closing piece. The response was enthusiastic and we were hooked – we love working together and believe in the project so much that from then on we started working day and night to realize its full potential. We became great friends along the way, and are enjoying every bit of it.

Where does your common passion for 1930s Italian swing come from? Did you grow up listening to this music?

All three of us were introduced to this music very early on in life. Giorgia’s grandfather was a clarinet player in her home town’s Philharmonic, and spent entire afternoons with her listening to his enormous collection of vinyls like Natalino Otto, Il Trio Lescano, Alberto Rabagliati and many others.

Songs like “Maramao perchè sei morto”, “Baciami Piccina” or “Pippo Non Lo Sa” are her childhood songs. Likewise, Marta’s mom used to sing these songs to her and Marta loved to listen to the stories they are able to tell in such a simple, natural way. On the other hand, as a child Mariana was exposed to music from three countries (US, Argentina and Italy), but for some reason, the simplicity and charm of these songs left a lasting impression which made her realize that Italian jazz does not yet have the recognition it deserves in the world. Her main goal and ambition is to promote the unique culture and flair of Italian jazz throughout the US.

Italian swing is catchy and easy to hum or whistle during anyone’s daily routine – however the style, instrumentation and harmonies, reveal a larger, complex canvas behind those popular melodies, making it extremely fascinating.

What artists have influenced most the sound and style of MaidenItaly?

While our repertoire is mostly made up of songs by the Trio Lescano, it includes a number of other great artists from that era which had literally “crossed the ocean”. For example, the “Trio Lescano” performed Italian translations of the Boswell Sister’s repertoire. The Boswell sisters were one of the most popular US vocal groups at the time, and are definitely one of our main influences along with the Andrew Sisters, which became successful soon after. Also, contemporary vocal groups like the New York Voices, Take Six and the Puppini Sisters have influenced all of us in more recent times.

Do you perform old classics, your original compositions, or a mix?

We perform old classics with a contemporary touch. We decided to be as accurate as possible in terms of vocal authenticity, and all vocal parts have been transcribed from the original recordings. At the same time however, our approach is not to generate an exact reproduction of the original music, but instead to work with a team of arrangers in maintaining the Swing Era feel while endowing each piece with new instrumentation, a new flavor and each arranger’s personal style and taste.

What can the audience at a MaidenItaly concert expect?

Elegance, grandeur and sophistication. Our audience will find itself immersed in the 1930s charm of Italian music, featuring close harmony vocals and an old-time brass ensemble. We will take you back in time across Italian swing and melodic ballads offering a unique chance to dance the night away.

You are the first artists to perform during the new Sounds of Italy Festival. Nervous? Excited?

Definitely Excited! The Festival is the product of extremely hard work and a vision sparked by our dear friend Stefano Marchese, and we are honored to perform on the opening night. We also feel the responsibility that comes with opening such an important Festival, and from acknowledging the quality of musicians in our ensemble. People like Marco Pignataro, Jeff Galindo, Marcello Pellittieri, Daniela Shacther and Lello Molinari not only stand for international prestige, but also for an extremely high level of professionalism and musicianship.

Anything you would like to add?

MaidenItaly is a team effort, which united a number of talented Italian musicians whose paths crossed here in Boston, and without whom none of this would have been possible; our arrangers Lorenzo Carrano, Daniele Siliquini and Cettina Donato; our dear friend Marco Longo who transcribed all the original vocal parts of the pieces; Niccolò Ielasi, an incredibly talented young pianist from Ischia, who helped us rehearse all pieces; our dear friend Marco Pignataro, who supported MaidenItaly from the very beginning and helped us find the finest musicians in Boston. And last but not least, our mentor, friend and teacher Lisa Thorson, one of the most beautiful souls we know, as well as one of the most exquisite jazz singers of today.

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About Nicola Orichuia

Nicola is an Italian journalist and media enthusiast living in the United States. He keeps an eye on the Italian-American communities across the country and is always looking for positive stories to highlight.