Pericopes is a jazz trio featuring Italian saxophonist Emi Vernizzi, Paris-based pianist Alex Sgobbio and featuring New Yorker Nick Wight on drums. Clearly talented jazz artists who are not afraid to experiment, next month is the first chance the people of the UK will have to hear them in a city near you.
With a slightly unusual line up, do Pericopes see themselves as a traditional jazz trio? Alex told me “No, I would not. I think it’s more correct to describe our trio by using the term “contemporary”. It’s always difficult to put labels, especially on ourselves…yet, our research mixes together several elements from our music backgrounds: jazz, funk, rock, contemporary classical music, religious and popular hymns, and improvisation.”
“I could also say that we like to play and create music in a “spiritual” way – if I can use this word in its largest meaning; using a personal language which comes directly from our souls, our music and life backgrounds. It’s always a work in progress, ready for the next step. One day Nick told me that Pericopes plays ‘advanced modern music’. I’d say, I agree!”
When Pericopes increased from duo to trio they actively made the decision not to include a bass player. “In 2012, after a long touring experience as a duo, Emi and I decided to explore new paths. We’ve chosen the drums as a third element because they work perfectly with our sound, adding a rhythmical and “rock” flavour to our music.” More than that, Alex explains that working in the absence of the bass allows them to keep a freedom to their music.
Nick has found a natural place playing with the Pericopes existing duo. Alex explains that they liked his enthusiasm and that Emi had actually toured with him previously; Nick joining was a “perfect fit” for the band. Alex tells me “We started our trio adventure in Paris in 2012. I remember we had long rehearsals together in order to get to know each other, find a good balance within the instruments and make compact our sound as a band. The Parisian concerts received a very great response that made us aware that we are going in the right direction.”
While definitely at the forefront of modern jazz on the scene at the moment, the band is inspired by a wide range of musicians past and present – John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, György Ligeti, J. S. Bach, Arnold Schönberg, Arve Henriksen, Misha Alperin, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, Ambrose Akinmusire, Anouar Brahem to name a few.
If you want to catch them live, then next month you can see them at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival. This performance will be Pericopes’ official debut in UK which they are really excited about. If you miss Gateshead then you might be able to pick them up at one of the other cities in the UK on their tour throughout April.