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The best kept secret in music


""A walk with rocco" review"

"From the young New York label Pagliacci Records comes Rocco's debut album, 'A Walk with Rocco', a modern easy listening album. Rocco is the singer-songwriter, who wrote, performed, arranged and produced everything on this record. The album is rich with different flavours. With its elements of jazz, it is easy to imagine much of this album being performed live the CBGB Lounge in New York. Yet despite its overall laid back feel, it could still fit into that seemingly homogenous term of 'pop'. 'Gardens of Imagination' is a sweeping song with backing vocals that builds as the song goes on. Both 'Matthew's Passion' and the opening track 'Sand in my Shoes' have a feel of Latino music, with rhythmic and upbeat guitars. The lyrics throughout the album suggest a reflective and introspective mood, but arguably the most significant track on the album is the final track - the instrumental, slightly haunting and perfectly low-key 'September Sadness'. An interesting first release."
Mel Gomes
- Mel Gomes

""A walk with rocco" Swedish review"

It might be a non-rewarding and not so generous trait of mine, but I have developed a skepticism towards most records that are delivered via mail to my front door. This is based on a hard and ruthless empire - Twisterella has, to put it mildly, had a lot of "shitty" records and only a few have been worth listening to and even fewer have been really good. The interesting music you will have to look for yourself. This insight has been my guide for esthetic development.

One afternoon a couple of weeks ago there was a package from New York waiting for me when I came home from work. There was something there that made me react positively right away. The cover is definitely impossible to place in a certain genre which you will usually see in Twisterella's stack of mail. On the back of the cover there is a corpulent Italian-American man standing (who loves pizza according to the press release) wearing a knit sweater and very large shorts on a deserted beach with a pan flute in one hand. It's a great picture. I could make the conclusion right away that Rocco is not a pop-rock band who sees it as a "career opportunity" to be named by a web "fanzine" before ZTV and "Aftonbladet Puls" get in touch with them. Also, Rocco does not have anything in common with the old pack of generic "lofi", alternative country, post-rock or "electronica". It was very clear that Rocco represented something completely different. This "something completely different" naturally caught my eye, and when I played the record I was generously rewarded.

To give you a picture of what type of sound Rocco exhibits I want to mention something about the instrumentation: The music is built on pianos, trumpets, acoustic "bossa" guitars, waves from the ocean, theremins, pan flutes, harmonicas, drum brushes, horns, etc. The arrangements vary between more majestic Bacharach-inspired hits and more quiet instrumental pieces that reminds me of movie music. The mood level varies between happy and deeply melancholic.

They say that Rocco has been singing opera since a young age. In "Hold On" he shows his talent which is out of this world when the instruments and Rocco's soothing voice (which is an instrument in itself) work together perfectly.

"A Walk with Rocco" is not a perfect album. It does not have a great text and it has a failed cabaret theme, but during the best moments I associate this with favorite labels such as "el Records" and "Radio Khartoum" and favorite artists such as Louis Philippe, Ben Watt, and Pale Fountains (without the music feeling pastiche or plagued). I get a pleasant taste of jazz-pop and easy listening in my mouth. It does not happen often that courageous albums that so nicely touch my tastebuds are placed right in front of me without me having to look for them myself. Please send more records like this.
By Mattias Holmberg
From the Swedish webzine
- Mattias Holmberg

" review of "A walk with rocco""

"Rocco proves to be quite the multi-instrumental prodigy on his debut album. A Walk with Rocco is a tender and reflective collection of crafted Latin-tinged songwriter folk, equally indebted to lounge jazz as it is to the rural folksmen of the early '70s. Nick Drake-like in its sweeping gentleness, Rocco sings lush and comfortable songs about love lost and found, performed with laid-back casualness that's half arrogant, half inspired and always intriguing. The careful, acoustic brush of tracks like "Hold On," "Gardens of Imagination" and "September Sadness" are at times devastatingly beautiful, and although the very nature of the album is whimsical and self-absorbed, this still makes for an endearing and comfortable disc. There's nothing on here you haven't heard before, but that doesn't detract from Rocco's immense songwriting talent, and his gift as a performer."
Stein Haukland
- Stein Haukland

"Rocco's first interview with Swedish magazine ETTNOLLETT"

Could you give me a little background regarding yourself and your music? Who are you, and what is it you want to accomplish with your music?

first let me start off by saying a big Hello and thank you to you Micke for the review you gave my debut cd "A walk with rocco" in the last issue. I haven't gotten it translated yet- But hope to soon. I can't wait to read it! Hello to Nicke Bostrom! and I want to wish on behalf of myself and the Pagliacci records family a happy 20th Anniversary to Ettnollett! And to anyone else who has bought a copy of my debut You make it all worth it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Let's see....I was in a 5th grade concert. The song the music teacher gave me to sing solo was a song called "I can get along without music".That was the year after I played the part of "Winnie the Pooh" -- but the last line of that song is the punch line. It goes "I can get along without music" -- "but not for very long." It's a bit ironic and a bit weird because it's absolutely true. I can't live without music. It's that simple. I have always loved music . Whether it was singing in the outfield during a little league baseball game instead of catching a fly ball or hitting a home run. Or in high school getting sent to the principals office for disrupting an Italian class while I practiced for a competition during class singing opera - Or singing leads in opera's and at night going to city gigs with a wild and wacky N.Y.C. band called "Newark" and then waking up with maybe 2 hours sleep to go teach music 25 miles away. Or writing songs since a young age- It has always been a part of me.

My father was an excellent tenor singing mostly religious music for church in Italy and playing organ. My grandfather was an excellent musician in Italy. My grandfather played trumpet in the Italian army band during ww2. I guess that's where I got the genes to make and perform music all my life .I learned about my grandfather from a great musician in my town named felix Sangenito who you might like to know played that beautiful trumpet solo part on "The Godfather" movie record. He is that great solo trumpet. My grandfather taught felix how to play.This was maybe 60 years ago. I studied classical voice from 12 to 22--- But I was also a fan of the Beatles since I was a little kid. My first 45 I bought was "Gotta get you into my life" And the flipside was "Helter Skelter" --Love the Beatles and always will . I just met Sean lennon at a gig he was doing at a place called "Tonic" in New York and we got to talking about music after his gig. I gave him my debut. I saw by the way he looked at the cover he liked the cover picture. Sean said he would be happy to listen to it. I was happy to speak with him. I also remembered how I cried when I heard the news about his father.

My father and I were driving from a night job my father had and I was just keeping him company while he worked. On the way home on the radio "I want to hold your hand" came on and I was singing along. Just after it played the announcer said Lennon had died. I cried the whole way home. The next day in music class we all heard "Sgt. Pepper" The whole album was played in music class from beginning to end that day . We used to call our music teacher Disco Dionne because he had bellbottoms and a Garfunkul hairdo. It was the tail end of the 70's -- this is december 9th 1980 6th grade music class. We all listened and I was simply blown away by it. That day I will never forget music class.The Beatles are mortal but there songs are Immortal. They will be with us forever. So all this was going on around the same time. Classical lessons on the one hand while Listening to top 40 from when I was 5 on up.
Writing songs on the other hand and everything in between.

I wanted to make an album in an uncompromising way that knew no bounds in anyway possible. Whatever it took I was going to make and finish it no matter what. I put everything into it for 2 and a half years from recording to mixing to mastering to mixing again mastering going back switching songs recording new ones making the cd jacket all that-- oh... but this needs to be like this and you get the picture It becomes obsessive behavior. I was quite pleased in the end though.

I began recording my second album on october 31 2003. That day during the start of my second album, Shawn Moseley owner of "
Witchdoctor recordings " spoke to me about Elliott Smith whom he had known and done sound for. It had only been 10 days since Elliotts death. And it was on Shawn's mind. We all felt Elliotts presence that day. It was quite spooky but what better day than on Halloween. It was truly a memory I will never forget. The songs were all written summer 2003. The last song for the album came in may of this year.

But back to "A walk with rocco" ; My first day at a new music teaching job was september 10 2001 . The next day we all know what happened. It changed my life. I knew quite a few people in those buildings. We lost 22 from my town. One girl I had as a student . Another man I played soccer with as a child,. Another was a musician I used to run into at the studio here in town.It was unfathomable And the girl student I taught my first year of teaching was president of her senior class and now this is now a few years later and she was married expecting her first child and she's gone.

I wanted to write a song about it all. Except I could think of no words to write. No words could ever express what that day ..really that whole month was like. So I wrote an instrumental "September sadness'" just my acoustic nylon and piano. I had been recording pre 9/11 but it just wasn't working . All of a sudden a light went on upstairs and the songs started flowing after that one. And thus began "A walk with rocco".I said screw the job and do what I always wanted to do. That was to record an album of my original material. the first song was recorded october 29th 2001 for "A walk " .

Continuing with the story--I taught school during this terrible time and gave the holiday concert in december 2001 with the 8th grade chorus After the concert was over I said my goodbyes and that was the end of it. With teaching that is. I still have a couple of guitar and voice students. I miss coaching soccer the most though. That was fun.

I've understood that you have a past within the opera. How would you say this is affecting your music and/or the way you are creating it?

I have sung lead in about 4 operas. yes.. i think it has affected a part of my brain in how my musical concepts come out. It might even be my Italian background. I'm not really sure. I like to use all that I have available. I guess I take my classical side and put it with my non classical side and stir the stew and I guess that's me .I don't mind using different voices I have . I really like Bossa and Burt Bacharach. I like recording instrumentals. There is only one instrumental on this new one.

I think movie soundtracks and tv show themes have influenced me a lot. Along with composers like Mozart and Charles Ives. I really love Ennio Morricone, lalo Shifrin, Nino Rota. At first my father was like "don't give up on being a professor ." How could I quit my job but now he really likes what I am doing and likes some of the songs. My father helped me with the translation for the Italian song on the album .

On "A walk with Rocco" escaping from the present reality seems to be a theme in many songs - songs about dreams, memories and imaginations. Do you feel that this escaping from the present reality, to create and enhance illusions, is important in life and in pop music? Or did you have any other thoughts about the songs when you wrote them?

Usually the way I write songs is that an event has to happen . Be it 911 "september sadness" or about a troubled friend "Matthew's passion" or about looking back on my life On "times were of gold" Hey I bet Tony Bennett could do a kick ass version of that song .I wrote the lyrics of "gardens of imagination ' as a teen and finally the time was write to record it. It was played live and recorded in a couple of different arrangements over the years. I am really happy with that one how it turned out. A title usually sparks me into writing lyrics. melody and arrangement come soon after or vice versa . But sometimes I don't write a song in many months and that's just
fine with me. Some of the songs I came up with were written on that beach that you see on the cover of the album.The photographer Lynne Burris captured exactly to a tee what i wanted . Love that cover to bits.she is just great-- that is a very magical special beach. the song "the girl with the green ribbon" was a piece to conjure up old forgotten times . The movie projector-- yea definitely i like to experiment. I got that title from an Edgar allan Poe short stories for children. i read it on Halloween 2000 to a 1st grade class not having read the ending before class...It goes like the Boy and the girl were always together and the girl wore a green ribbon and finally when she was old and sick on the bed and finally died -The old man who had known her his whole life always wondered why she had a green ribbon around her neck and he asked her and she always said never mind. Since she had just died the old man said what the hell I'll take the ribbon off and her head fell off! Well I got called into the principles office the next day.

Some things never change I guess. But that song has a totally different story than the book. Definitely Charles Ives influenced me on that one with the marching band and all that. That was a fun session. I would like to mention that the guy who played tuba on that one-- that tuba was used on the "Jaws" motion picture soundtrack. You know the scary part when people are in the water and
the shark is about ready for dinner. that goes da .na--DA--NA- DA -NA-DA!!! my favorite tracks on my debut in no particular order are: "Sand in my shoes" , "gardens of imagination", "matthew's passion" , "the times were of gold' , and lastly "september Sadness".

Would you consider yourself an experimentalist or a traditionalist? Please explain why.

Well that is a tough question. I definitely had a specific way I wanted to go about making this album. NO COMPROMISES! It depends on whatever the circumstances of the song are. I look at it that I know the rules and I know when you can break them. Rules are meant to be broken. For a walk I tried to write in a way that was non definable. Yet there are elements of jazz,bossa,avante-gard,classic pop I tried to write songs that moved in whatever direction they took to. I love to explore. I think the newer album will be a more cohesive thematic work than my first . There will be less guest artists on it.

On your web page (which seems to be down now) you were described as a "renaissance man". In what ways
does this feature present itself?

I am working on the new site for the new album at the moment. It may come back up again and maybe it won't. I am not sure yet.

Well I look at it meaning I like to do many different things. I like acting. I have done bit parts here and there. I was in a movie with John Travolta playing a security agent. He was great to talk to.Did you know he told me he gets $4,000 an hour ? And I did a video shoot with Mick jagger and the Rolling Stones. I got 50 bucks to walk in the middle of the street with a newspaper. That was the video with Angelie Jolie half naked walking down the street and Mick and I are walking beside each other in a scene together. The video is called 'Has anybody seen my baby". I love the Stones a lot. They had so many great songs. I especially love the song "Angie".
I enjoy photography. Art. I love to draw. Creating and adjusting to life's situation by creating alternative ways of thinking. I would like to one day put together a big coffee table book with big pictures .

What are your most important sources of inspiration, both musical and non-musical? In what ways do they affect you and your music?

Everything that comes about in life be it good or bad. Nature can be a great inspiration. I love writing songs to help me cope. Everything seems much clearer once you write it down.

I've understood, from the Pagliacci Records homepage, that there is new Rocco material soon to be released. How would you compare this new material to "A walk with Rocco"?

It's somewhat more earthy. Somewhat wordier.Some songs are sparse some are dense. I like this one I am working on a lot. It's a lot more folky than jazzy and less avante and more Movie score influenced with a more delicate voice used. Some songs deal with darker subjects and some deal with lighter ones. The studio "Witchdoctor recording" in Salem,Massachusetts was so warm and inviting-- it was very easy to get such warmness from the recordings. I am very pleased so far with the sound I am getting from Shawn the engineer. Shawn is an excellent musician and he is an excellent listener. We have a good time when we get together. Witchdoctor soon will be moving to Brooklyn in New York . That just made my trip to the studio hours closer and this will help with wrapping things up by september. I would love to have this released with a larger label. But I am not going to wait for a bigger label when I can put it out on my own label Pagliacci records. I would like to eventually re-release "A walk with rocco" through a bigger label. I had some bites but as of yet no cigar ..yet. oh and I would like to get a publishing deal and all that.  

Are there any other contemporary artists that you listen to and/or feel related to? Do you have any favorite records from the 21st
century, so far?

Goldfrapp "Felt Mountain" What a great album. I like "Amorino" Isobel Cambell,Gemma hayes, Julie Doiron- I like Nick Drake a lot. Elliott Smith -I can't wait till his new album comes out in the fall. His family will be releasing it through a label as yet undecided. I love the soundtrack "Once upon a time in the west" written by Ennio Morricone. Also "the Godfather" by Nino Rota. Sigur-Ros, Mozart. Of course The Beatles -I'll love them forever.

What are your plans for the future? And also, regardless of plans, what are your hopes for the future?

To tour Scandinavia. It is so beautiful from the pictures I have seen. We are talking with the nice people at Monstera in your
country to help get the ball rolling. I have a kick ass live group. I also have got a motor scooter coming my way in the next couple of
days. I Can't wait to ride it! keep writing,recording,performing,producing music. I would like to get signed of course. ..

It would make my life a lot easier.

The final question: is Rocco your real name?

Yes it is.

My last name I don't use because it's way to long. It took me until the 5th grade just to spell it right. Just kidddin ;o)

- ETTNOLLETT Magazine Swedish translated into English, Micke Rehnstrom


A WALK WITH ROCCO Pagliacci Records 2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


Rocco embarked on his musical career as a young child. At the age of six, Rocco enjoyed listening to and mimicking the sounds of his dad's opera records. Playing "Winnie the Pooh" in the 4th grade really set the stage for the future. Rocco's teacher suggested that his talent be developed with classical vocal lessons. On December 8, 1980 Rocco cried as did millions of people around the world. In music class the next day Disco Dionne, as he was known, put on Sgt. Pepper. Rocco realized then that he wanted to be like his hero Lennon: a songwriter.
At the age of 16 Rocco began writing his own songs. In high school Rocco competed and won All-State Chorus two years in a row and All-Eastern Chorus his senior year, being only one of eight from New York state. These records still hold. Junior year had Rocco starting his first band LAIZZE FAIRE playing bass and keyboards but mostly writing and singing. The bands first gig came when they got a chance to play at SAFA - Students Against Famine in Africa.
During his college years, Rocco performed in leading operatic roles including Puccini's "Gianni Schicci", Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte", Poulenc's modern opera "Dialogue of the Carmelites" and Gilbert and Sullivans "The Gondoliers". Rocco also sang and acted opposite Edie Falco in the Purchase production of Heartbeat the musical. In the early 1990's Rocco was playing in the N.Y.U. band Newark, writing and arranging songs for the band as well as being the rhythm guitarist. With NEWARK Rocco had a chance to play in the CMJ Festival and was featured on TV Blue Channel.
In 1997 Rocco appeared in a video with Angelina Jolie and Mick Jagger called "Has anybody seen my baby."
September 11, 2001 also marked a period of transistion. Rocco began work on his debut solo album "A Walk with Rocco" on October 29, 2001 with the recording "September Sadness". Mastering was completed at "Gateway Mastering Studios" in Portland, Maine in summer 2003. Rocco's September Sadness was the first from what would come an album that some have called miraculous. After hearing "September Sadness", a reporter from the BBC, Pamela Grier, asked Rocco to be on her TV show to perform this haunting piece and to also sing a song called "I want the old New York" that he wrote. That performance was November 11, 2001 at Ground Zero.
Rocco's instrumental composition "September Sadness" from the solo debut album "A Walk with Rocco" on Pagliacci Records, has had over 25,000 downloads to date on, a German music website. In April 2003, "Gardens of Imagination", from the same album, was chosen by the National Holocaust Museum as the dedication piece for the opening of the Children's Memorial Garden. In September 2003, "A Walk with Rocco" is released on Pagliacci Records to critics' and fans' delight. The music lovers of Sweden by word of mouth and web chatter got Rocco's debut and loved it which led to a distribution deal with Delicious Goldfish Records in Sweden. In May 2004 Rocco is a Top 10 seller in the Hong Kong music store "The Panic." Summer 2004 had Rocco doing his first interview with Swedish magazine ETTNOLLET. In May 2005 Rocco signed his first Hollywood contract for his instrumental piece "Just you and me baby" to be featured in a movie. In July of 2005 Rocco's instrumental gem "Return of the Jade Idols' was chosen by the 2005 Theremin MOOG Original Composition Contest as one of the five best theremin songs of the year. In August,Rocco traveled to North Carolina to receive his award and meet with the worldwide theremin community that attended the festival. The song entrants were amongst the stiffest of competition from around the world. In the Fall of 2005 Rocco will release his second album "For a Day" on Pagliacci Records.