“Don’t mix the sacred with the profane”: “Libere Disserzioni Del Poeta Robert Zimmerman”
This old popular saying says a lot about going to tease the sacred lights. You also know the saints can get angry, if the saint in question is Bob Dylan then things can get really complicated. Robert Zimmerman is one of the leading figures of the twentieth century whose artistic contribution is definitely difficult to quantify. Always uncomfortable character, versatile artist, difficult personality, he always did what he wanted and how he wanted, without bothering to upset critics and the public. Not to mention the Nobel Prize winner, who refused to withdraw in person, and religious conversions. Dylan is one that made the difference. It has been and still is one of the pillars of popular music, capable both of subverting Adorno’s theories and raising rock and folk to levels very different from those of simple entertainment for teenagers. The repertoire of songs has attracted an endless list of artists, capable of churning out repetitive covers, some of which are superior to Dylan’s own, further proof of how interpretation can bring added value by regenerating existing structures.
Here, however, we are faced with a different situation. The title of the disc is “Gratis Disserzioni Del Poeta Robert Zimmerman” and puts us in front of not a cover or yet another tribute but something more complex and articulated. The duo! YEL, that is Filippo Ferazzoli and Giovanni Mancini on guitars, aims to re-read Dylan’s artistic production in terms of free improvisation. To be precise: “The aim of this project is to break down, to observe influences, approaches and sounds that the artists have in common space and unpredictability driving them in the spirit of spontaneity and improvisation.”
Why is it a complex goal? First, because it is a matter of getting out of the cover, to enter into a much more delicate interpretative vision: here it is a matter of distorting, overturning the music, resorting to sophisticated forms of quotation that allude to Dylan, or rather to the form of Dylan , but without replicating his songs.
Second, unlike the covers, it is a question of coming out of another form of artistic sownness, leaving the popular genres frequented by Dylan to move to a completely different form like free interpretation, with a general reinvention of the rules.
Third. Form. Yes, but which one? Zimmerman is a born transformist. Very few artists can boast a similar (in) artistic coherence and a similar capacity for transformation, anticipation and adaptation, so much so that often, as happens with Miles Davis, the music critic has found it appropriate to divide his artistic production in different time periods, in search of a temporary uniformity and artistic position.
I believe the answer lies in the “mobile form” of free improvisation itself. Such a decentralized, mobile and fluid system presents valid possibilities to provide a (re) definition and (re) representation to a so diversified and complex starting form. And then the idea of ”Dissertation”. The! YETs play Desertions. What do they mean? What is a Dissent? A variant of a Dissertation? A form of argumentation, analysis, to develop a thesis, to expose the methods and results of a research? Or a form of Dissection? In anatomy, sectioning and separation of the parts and organs of the corpse for the purpose of description and study? Or maybe both. A logical neologism that combines these two linguistic forms?
Both lend themselves to the work of the! YETs. “Free Dissections of the Poet Robert Zimmerman” is a complex, articulated and successful work. Perhaps still immature, but it could not be otherwise given the structure and the choices adopted by Filippo Ferazzoli and Giovanni Mancini, and in any case has the great merit of asking questions, perhaps uncomfortable, and of presenting Dylan in another light. It is an interesting road. Hightly recommended.