Antonio Forcione on touring, this week’s gig in Chiswick and Trova – the singer-songwriters of Cuba

Image above: Antonio Forcione; photograph Anna Kunst

“Forcione is mesmerizing ….. passion, grace and fire” ….. The Times

Antonio Forcione, the multi award-winning acoustic guitarist and composer, will be playing in Chiswick this week, bringing his vibrant and original blend of jazz, Latin, African, flamenco and soul sounds to the Boston Room on Thursday 10 November for Jazz at George IV.

He is critically acclaimed worldwide, having toured from Australia and Hong Kong to Russia, the Caribbean, USA and all over Europe. He has shared the international stage with some of the world’s most accomplished musicians and his albums have topped UK and international jazz charts.

The critics are full of superlatives:

“Forcione boldly goes where no guitarist has gone before and the results are quite spectacular.” ….. The Stage.

“Forcione is mesmerizing ….. passion, grace and fire” ….. The Times.

He talked to The Chiswick Calendar about this week’s concert in Chiswick and about his recent documentary Trova, about Cuban troubadours, which he has made with his daughter Maya.

Image above: Two women enjoying playing with a puppy in Cuba; photograph Maya Forcione

The music culture in Cuba is “like Italy used to be in the 1970s”

Cuba is famous for its tradition of singer-songwriters – ‘trova’. Antonio, who travels the world performing and sometimes stays for several weeks or even months at a time in one place to immerse himself in the music culture of the country he is in, fell in love with the free and easy culture where anyone can pick up and guitar and take part.

“I came across them when I was walking one morning at 2am – 30 or 40 people singing songs and passing one guitar between them.

“It reminded me of Italy in the 1970s. It should make us think about some of the things we’ve lost. Not waiting for a record deal. Not looking at our phones.”

He decided he would travel around Cuba talking to famous and non-famous singer songwriters, hearing their stories.

Image above: Antonio with Pedro Luis Ferra, considered to be the foremost ‘radical voice’ among Cuba’s musicians

Finding a voice through music

One singer-songwriter told him they would have liked to be a journalist, but turned to song-writing to express themselves instead to avoid the censorship of the press in Cuba.

“I asked them all the same questions – Do you think Trova has a future?  Can you play me the song that represents you best?”

The result is an hour long documentary narrated by Antonio and shot and edited by his daughter Maya, with the troubadours of Cuba telling their stories. Some of their songs are political, some personal, much like the Calypso tradition of Trinidad and Tobago.

Antonio and Maya have shown the documentary a couple of times in Italy, to appreciative audiences, and are now looking for a venue to show it in London.

Images above: From Antonio and Maya’s documentary Trova; photographs by Maya Forcione

Dresden … London … Rome … Madrid

Antonio is currently touring. I spoke to him on Sunday in Dresden, where he had just arrived fresh from a couple of gigs in the UK playing with African kora player Seckou Keita and Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale. The three won the Global Music Awards for Best Album in 2019 for the album Joy.

In Dresden he is playing a jazz festival with German singer-songwriter Jule Malischke.

He will be playing a couple of the songs from Cuba on Thursday night, including one which he has co-written with perhaps the most famous of Cuba’s troubadours – Pedro Louis Ferrar, considered to be the foremost ‘radical voice’ among Cuba’s musicians.

After Thursday’s gig in Chiswick he will be off to Rome and Madrid. When he is not on the road or soaking up the culture of Cuba or Zimbabwe, he lives in Chiswick.

Get tickets for his concert at George IV here: Antonio Forcione – Jazz at George IV

Image above: Antonio jamming with Cuban musicians; photograph Maya Forcione

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