‘Happy Mistake’ is the latest offering from Italian jazz singer, composer and pianist Raphael Gualazzi.
Beyond the jazz world, the 31-year-old is known to a wider audience for coming second in the Eurovision Song Contest two years ago.
Euronews caught up with him in Lyon during his sold-out tour of France. He has a strong following in the country off the back of his earlier album ‘Reality and Fantasy’ which sold 100,000 copies there.
The style remains the same – an eclectic mix of jazz, pop, soul and gospel but also influenced by traditional Italian songs and classical music:
Raphael Gualazzi explained his influences: “I was inspired by the cross-over of European culture with African-American forms, in the early days of this very beautiful music – Jazz -which has been around now for more than 150 years.
“Then of course, I fell in love with some Italian music and I came to understand that the strength of that music is because the melody is so important, and so I decided to merge those two traditions, writing both in Italian and in English.”
His first international album ‘Reality and Fantasy’ was replete with duets, including Vince Mendoza, James F. Reynolds, Pete Glenister and the French DJ Gilles Peterson.
That trend continues on the new one as Gualazzi is joined by The Puppini Sisters for the track ‘Welcome to My Hell’ and by French singer Camille for ‘L’amie d’un italien (Rainbows)’.
The oft repeated theme of the album is dreams, which the singer enthuses about: “Dreams are important as an extension of the spiritual dimension. The idea of the dream as an ideal is important, especially in the difficult times which we’re living through – with austerity affecting our lives every day. As during the Depression back in 1929, or in the postwar period, it’s important to have ideals, to believe in something that let’s you move forward, to have passion for something that makes you fight, that pushes you to cross continents.”
Gualazzi recently swapped concert halls for busking in the Metro as part of a musical series organised by the Paris transit authority. Along with the Imperial 4tet, he played at Saint-Lazare underground station and enjoyed it a lot as a return to his roots: “It was a very beautiful experience, for bringing people together. I played in all sorts of places, before getting a recording contract, I seized every opportunity. And now I’ll continue to play and express myself in every possible place, anywhere you can think of.”
‘Happy Mistake’ is out now. Raphael Gualazzi plays at the Jazz in Montauban festival on July 5 and the Nice Jazz Festival on July 11.