Pino Daniele in New York. The ambassador of the Neapolitan soul
Pino & Friends”. He chased the notes with his words. Hi
voice was always incredibly intense
occasionally, slightly tired. But not his hands on the guitar, not his music, which was his passion.
The third time Pino came to New York was a different experience again. The concert wasn't held at the Apollo theater, a place where the sacred atmosphere almost puts a distance between the artists and the public. Or at least that's how one feels. Playing with him this time his New York friends but also the old companions of his musical life journey, directly from Naples. I remember his son, who this time more than before, followed him with eyes filled with tenderness. I sensed some sort of fragility in Pino, but the concert was enthralling and no one else noticed.
Following him backstage, walking with him and his band, watching the rehearsal, eating together... I remember those moments, tinged with little envy. The magic that friendship can create is certainly exponentially amplified when there is music. And if the one making the music is an artist of the stature of Pino Daniele, then everything becomes magical and seems to flow easily. It's a unique improvisation, but one that requires great mastery and harmony.
I recall Pino's affability towards me, especially during his last New York trip when he already knew me a little. He asked for me to find out more about the city and its people, his questions always implying a feminine answer. I wasn't just a journalist anymore, but an american friend who helped him in his search for Naples in New York.
His strength came from Naples. It may sound prosaic but it's important to reiterate it. He clearly said it in his last interview: "Being from Naples was hard at the begnning, but now Naples keeps me alive from a creative point of view. If you are a healthy carrier (of Neapolitan spirit),
He would wear the New York atmosphere like a silk garment that happily rests on the skin. He was comfortable, walking around the city listening to its sonorities, to its voices and noises. He would stop by Pizzeria Ribalta, craving for a pizza you cannot do without, even in New York.
He had many American friends and it wasn't uncommon to come across famous faces of the music world, almost in disguise, watching his concerts.
The atmosphere of the Big Apple would become as one with Naples the moment he picked up his guitar and played the first notes of his blues.
Then Naples was in New York. He allowed us into its belly, in its alleys, in its promenade. With its odors, noise, screams, and its 'munnezza' (the trash), its superstition and its history. An interior beauty that only his music was able to narrate. A beauty that captivates, whether the background is the gulf of Naples or New York's skyline. A beauty open to other people, cultures and music.
Pino is maybe the shyest Neapolitan I've ever met. But what do you need words for when the music says it all. And so eloquently!