Signs (Slam 557; UK 2015)


Erika Dagnino Trio,  A. Terzo, M. Maimeri, Black&White - jazzColours Luglio 2015(Anno VIII, n. 7), Italy


Erika’s trio (Erika on poetry/voice, Ken Filiano on doublebass/effects and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion) is a welcome addition to our huge collection of creative and improvised works; a PERFECT album to close out this issue with! Totally perceptive movements that (even though done in another language for a good part of the pieces) are completely intelligible to listeners who “dig down” into the music and let nothing escape their aural senses. I particularly enjoyed “Secondo Movimento“, with it’s combination of simple spoken-word against very presentable double bass and percussion; the fact that it clocks in at 8:31 just means that there is plenty of space for each player to shine – & shine they DO! Regular readers here will know that I listen to a lot of work from artists like this, and Erika always stands out as exceptional. I give Erika and her musical cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who thrive on improvised music, and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. Get more information at the SLAM Records page for this release

Dick Metcalf, Rotcod Zzaj, may 2015


Vocalist Erika Dagnino delivers poetry with Ken Filiano’s bass and effects along with Satoshi Takeishi/s percussion on a fascinatingly  free form collage and collision of sounds and moods.

George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly, UK March 2015


Just 8 months after the recording of Signs, reviewed a year ago, the trio replaces the quartet and with only voice, double bass and percussion succeeds in producing an album, Sides, that is in no way diminished by the reduced input – if anything, it might even be considered more elegant, more motivated: more awe-inspiring. While Italian and English words are used to express the same ideas, so do the poetry and the music discuss the cultural implications of sounds upon words. There seems to be a sort of metamorphosis from the composite sounds into the new meanings of the contemplations directed towards the listener, or perhaps drawn by the listener from those deliberations.
This transmutation in turn reflects upon the notion that there may be a point to be made about musical emotion and analytical understanding – yes of course there is a difference, but is it important? Should we ignore one in favour of the other?
The words are paraded through the work with a physically powerful deliverance and ingenious cadence that lend them a seemingly incipient autonomy, taking them out of the world of ordinary meaning. This transformation is also applied almost in reverse in Track 5, where the poet recites a set of numbers as laid out in a 7x6 matrix in the booklet which accompanies the CD. This piece is reminiscent of the Number Poems of Neil Mills, written in 1969 and published in 1971 by the Arts Council of Great Britain as part of Experiments in Disintegrating Language (33 AC 1971 mono Side 1).
Neil Mills wrote in the sleeve-notes: "I believed that the meaning which emerged in the reading of poetry lay primarily in intonation and rhythm and only secondarily in semantic content, i.e. that what was important was how something was read, rather than what was said – the human voice functioning as musical instrument."
Mills also thought that "numbers provided a very limited range of spoken sound-values", but here Erika proves him wrong and it is the elegance with which she addresses the tool which is her voice that enables her unsettling annunciation.
Here is another exquisite album from the voice and pen of Erika Dagnino, the hallucinatory bass playing of Ken Filiano and clarity of expression brought by Satoshi Takeishi's Japanese percussion.

Ken Cheetham, Jazz Views, February 2015


Words and sounds arrange themselves against any notion of centre.There is no centre here that dictates form and symmetry:this is about the core,something more dense and subtle,connected to beginning and indeed connected to care.And this core is shaped as a constellation:the concentrated act of making words and sound opens up to dissipation of making sound happen,in listening,yet all its elements are held together.No prescribing narrative or anecdotes:a repertoire of aural gestures prompts my hearing and allows it to errin and out of its permeable boundaries into words.”Sides” is not just rhythm,not just poetry,it has no canonical function or meaning,it makes new meanings as I hear its sounds take form.

Savvas Hantzaridis, Breakaplate, Greece, February 2015


...un lavoro molto molto bello...   

Ghighi Di Paola, Battiti rai radio3, gennaio 2015   


This is Italian poet Erika Dagnino's fourth disc for Slam after having recorded in two quartets and a duo with violinist Stefano Pastor. This is her NY-based trio and they have played here at DMG last year (2014). Ms. Dagnino is a fine poet and her words can be found in the enclosed booklet both in English and Italian. She reads in both languages. Although her recitation is often deadpan, her words and observations are fascinating to read and listen to. She gives Mr. Filiano and Mr. Takeishi a good deal of room to stretch out and set up the vibe before she comes in. Their playing is consistently inspired and they seem to be telling tales as they go. This disc is broken into five movements, a prelude, intermission and a finale.
Ms. Dagnino's warm voice, clear diction and thoughtful words are all used to their best advantage giving us a chance to consider her expressive words. The balance between the words and music is just right so that neither takes over too much and both elements enhance the other.
Well done, once again.

Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC 2015

Una dialettica singolare ed affascinante che fa pensare, a volte, alle parole di Elvin Jones sull'ultimo Coltrane. Parole («Solo i poeti oramai lo capiscono») che sembrano alludere ad una certa incomunicabilità fra le due espressività.

Marco Buttafuoco, Jazzconvention, gennaio 2015


L'ascolto dei readings di Erika Dagnino impone al fruitore una particolare morfologia già prima dell'inizio dell'esperienza musicale. 

Ettore Garzia, Percorsi Musicali, dicembre 2014, Italy     (pdf)


Grandioso, epico, sono solo degli aggettivi per descrivere questo disco in cui la poetessa italiana Erika Dagnino declama le proprie liriche in compagnia di due musicisti residenti a New York, il contrabbassista Ken Filiano e Satoshi Takeishi, giapponese, alle percussioni. È un modo molto bello di presentare delle liriche piuttosto forti, ricche di immaginazione e di un ritmo interno, di accenti che le fanno risuonare dando un senso alla parola che diventa autonoma da quelle che potrebbero essere delle costrizioni legate a storie e trame predefinite. Sono ombre, luci, oscurità, blocchi di suono che stanno in contrapposizione o che si danno un significato reciproco. Questo aspetto della poesia della Dagnino, forse più evidente nel Quarto Movimento in cui elenca semplicemente dei numeri cercando il suono al di là del significato banale delle cifre, la rende molto originale, sia in italiano che in inglese. Lei li legge nelle due lingue mentre tutto intorno ci sono le improvvisazioni della 
ritmica che inventa costantemente dei panorami suggestivi in cui le parole risuonano come schegge di suono, qualcosa che improvvisamente acquista un significato soltanto in questa veste collettiva. È un risultato molto coinvolgente mentre va dato atto alla poetessa italiana di avere trovato così il modo giusto per presentare le sue liriche. Sono dei momenti molto lirici e comunicativi, un riuscito incontro di musica e parola.

V. Loconte, Musicboom, dicembre 2014