In the past, many artists have paid tribute to the music of Genesis. Countless are the tribute releases on which progressive rock acts play the music of one of their influences. The music of Genesis has also been performed in a classical way by classical orchestras or by musicians on a grand piano only. One of the musicians who combines all those ways to pay tribute to this important band in the history of progressive rock music is the Italian musician
Francesco Gazzara. His main instrument is the acoustic piano. But he is also very capable on the Bosendorfer Grand Coda piano, Hammond B3 and M100 organs, Fender Rhodes, Korg MS 20, Kawai upright piano, harpsichord, vibes, bouzouki and tambourine. As Gazzara Plays Genesis he released the double CD Play Me My Song named after a line in the lyrics of The Musical Box a track taken from Nursery Cryme released in 1971.
It's certainly a real pleasure to hear the nineteen different Genesis tracks which all get the Gazzara treatment. This means you still can hear which songs were done but they sound different compared to the original versions. Furthermore, all of the pieces of music don't feature any vocals and therefore the vocal lines are done by other instruments. Most of the time it's the piano who replaces the vocal parts originally done by Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins but also the guest musicians take care of those parts. For instance, Dario Cecchini very well manages to do this by playing on his flute, G flute, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax and bass clarinet. His contributions made me think many times about the way Rob Townsend - from Steve Hackett's live band - played on the same kind of instruments on the many Genesis covers done by Hackett. But also those who are most of the time responsible for the more orchestral parts throughout the album are active in this role of replacing the vocal lines. They are Fabrizio Paoletti on violin, Giulia Nuti on viola and Giorgia Pancaldi on cello. Those who replaced the vocals are most of the time also those who replaced the original strong instrumental parts performed on the electric guitars and keyboards. The Gazzara treatment also means no rhythm section was used during the recordings of the tracks so no drums and bass which provided a strong beat or groove. Missing the vocals and rhythms in the music of Genesis might mean it's difficult to enjoy the bands complex music. Well that's certainly not the case on Play Me My Song. Sure the compositions on which Tony Banks' keyboard parts dictated the music are the compositions which work the best possible way without the vocals and rhythm parts. Good examples are pieces such as Firth Of Fifth, The Cinema Show, The Lamia and A Trick Of The Tail-songs which are mainly based on Tony's strong piano playing.
Thanks to the use of several keyboards next to the piano, Francesco made it possible that certain strong keyboard parts on the original versions-in a way-stay intact. The strong organ parts on The Knife are still as recognisable as on the original version. Several times also the important keyboard chords on the original versions, which were many times responsible for the beautiful musical climaxes, can still be enjoyed as well. I guess without those extra keyboard parts the covers sound less interesting!
Finally, something has to be said about the beautiful art work of this release. This looks pretty amazing and has the same kind of painting which can be found on the covers of several Genesis albums released in the seventies. What you see is a kind of mix of the images you can see on the albums Trespass (1970), the already mentioned Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot (1972) and Selling England By The Pound (1973).
Anybody who wants to hear the music of Genesis made during their best period in a kind of different way, just can't afford to avoid this release. I had the same kind of musical pleasure listening to the songs on Play Me My Song as when I heard all of the original versions many years ago. So bravo to Francesco Gazzara for entertaining me almost two hours long with his interpretations of all those famous Genesis tunes!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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