Soaking up the spirit of Stevie Wonder with Amsterdam's feel-good songster
Deep in the centro storico, or historic heart of Rome, Paolo Mezzalama and his -scape spa company of architects turned a former monastery into a revelation of a musical kind. Wrapped around a 15th century courtyard, the three storey building just oozed the drama of Roman grandeur, with floor to ceiling windows and a pinch of rust. Sculptures of giant bass clefs and basketball hoops added to the unreality, as participants and lecturers from all around the globe descended on the Eternal City for four weeks.
Joining us on the couch in the wooden amphitheatre-styled lecture hall were music minds like Caribou, Domu, Sa-Ra Creative Partners and Arto Lindsay, as well as some of Italy’s own pioneers, like Claudio Simonetti, Daniele Baldelli and Volcov. Leroy Burgess got on the keys and gave us a tension and release song-writing masterclass, while Bernard Purdie broke down the Purdie shuffle, one 16th triplet at a time. Aside from the gelati and late night piazza bustle, there was a five-a-side dub out with Dennis Bovell, and birthday mayhem, Plastician-style. It all added fuel to the busy studios, where Pilooski and fellow participant Etienne Charrier told tales of crate digging over a low-slung beat, and Zed Bias and Om’Mas Keith teamed up for Michelle Amador’s Sunday afternoon soul jazz anthem “In And Out”, along with loads more tracks. Surrounded by the weight of so much history, the one thing Rome taught us about time was to grab it when it’s in front of you.