Carlo Mombelli’s latest release, Angels and Demons, is everything you would expect from the master bassist and composer. One of South Africa’s most impressive jazz innovators, his music has been described by the BBC as ‘hauntingly beautiful’.
In his 40-year career as a bass player, bandleader and composer, Carlo Mombelli has bridged gaps between genres, musicians and audiences. A self-taught musician, he has recorded and performed at many respected festivals, including the Roma Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival, the Stockholm Jazz Festival, the German Moers, and the Banlieues Bleues Festival, to name a few.
In addition to his over 100 recorded works and performances with his own projects, Mombelli’s composition commissions include more than 14 films/documentaries and animations, music for a mobile game, commissions for the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, piano music for the art film Exquisite Corps, and his recent piece for the GRAMMY Award-winning New York String Quartet, entitled ‘Ethel’.
Of Angels and Demons, Mombelli says, ‘My new project is about my on-going search to create works of beauty between my Angels and Demons, works that explode out of these two opposites. It is an exploration of the positives and negatives of everything. Striving for beauty in my art is my lifelong quest and I put my projects together for this end.’
Mombelli’s purpose with the project is to tell a story. ‘It is a story. At the end of a performance, the audience raptures into applause or is in dead silence because the energy of the concept of the band is spiritual. I am always trying to find the spiritual element in music.’
The recording features longtime Mombelli collaborators and renowned jazz musicians (named for this project as the Angels and Demons Quartet), Kyle Shepherd (piano), Keenan Ahrends (guitar) and Jonno Sweetman (drums). Also contributing musically are Carlo’s daughter Maria Mombelli (voice and tenor saxophone), Janus van der Merwe (bass clarinet), Peter Cartwright (piano on ‘Like a Mouse in a Maze’ and ‘The Children of Aleppo’) and Susan Mouton (cello). Mombelli himself is credited for ‘electric bass and voice and instrument sound designs’.
2018 has been a busy year for Carlo Mombelli. In addition to recording Angels and Demons, he has also been touring the country with the Angels and Demons Quartet. He has been completing a book for Real African publishers entitled Pulses in the Centre of Silence – The Compositions and Composition Process of Carlo Mombelli, which is also due for release this year. And that’s just what he has been busy with in South Africa. He performed his music with the Italian Euregio Ensemble at festivals in Switzerland, Austria and Italy; he debuted a new project at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland, with Adrian Mears and Andreas Tchopp on trombones, with special guest Jorge Rossy on vibraphone; and he was a guest lecturer at the Basel Jazz School in Switzerland.
Angels and Demons will be launched at the Norval Foundation in Tokai, Cape Town on Sunday 8 December. To buy tickets, visit www.norvalfoundation.org or visit www.carlomombelli.co.za for more information.