Many wonderful words have been said and written about Paolo since his untimely death yesterday. Words that can not catch the greatness of the man, not only as a musician, but as well as a humorous, gentle and caring human being. I have never met a man with such an appetite and love for life, a generous and always supportive gentleman. Musically there were no rhythms this drummer extraordinaire couldn’t find within himself and/or a song … having been the driving force on numerous recordings of all genres of music, always serving the composition and performance, never putting himself forward when it wasn’t his time.
I met Paolo the first time in 1997, when I made his first album ‘Mbara Boom available internationally after its initial Norwegian release. We stayed in touch after that, me as well working his amazing box set Very Much Alive, a series of live recordings in a trio format with Terje Rypdal on guitar, Ståle Storløkken on keyboards and special guest appearances by bassist Marius Reksjø, Bugge Wesseltoft on keyboards, Jonas Lønnå for Sounds – Vinyl and samples and trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, released on Jazzland Recordings in 2010. By this time, he was as well already the drummer in a trio with saxophonist Tommy Smith and bass legend Arild Andersen, which released 3 critically acclaimed recordings on ECM. Despite his ongoing battle with cancer, Paolo tireless toured with the trio and found time to record and produce more of his own music. The touching and heartfelt music of Dommedag Ifølge Paulus, composed by Paolo with Audun Aschim Steffensen, is a document of his love for life, a reminder of the struggle of many people with this illness and a prayer for all of them. Performed with the Norske Solistkor under Grete Pedersen and Eivind Aarset on guitar next to Paolo on percussion, this recording and video is a lasting reminder of a great composer and performer. For anyone interested in Paolo’s musical variety, I would recommend getting a copy of the 6 CD box set Mystery Man, an anthology through his work from 1981 to his last recordings. Essential listening!!
I feel honoured that Paolo called me his friend, that we had a musical connection and one as human being. In 2018 my wife and I travelled with Paolo and his wife Trude to the festival Jazz at Bran Castle in Rumania, as Paolo was helping with the program of the festival. We had some truly wonderful days together, enjoying each other’s company and the music on offer, good food and wine. With his smile and easy-going attitude, his willingness to help, Paolo made everyone relax.
Over the last half year he did send me some music he had worked on and mixed over the last few months .. first a recording with Makoto Ozone, Tommy Smith and Arild Anderson, recorded and entitled Live in Japan .. and wonderful music, an extension of the ECM trio with pianist Ozone and immaculate as a recording. The other one was a WAV master of a live concert in Arendal with Bugge Wesseltoft and bassist Shri, an amazing musical adventure, with space for improvisations, light and driving rhythms and magical communication between all three musicians. Hopefully these recordings will be made available once.
His legendary status as one of Europe’s most important drummers will last forever – for those who met him, he will be an unforgettable person, who has touched them with his kindness and all-embracing humanity. Paolo Vinaccia will be truly missed, and the world is a worse place without him. May he Rest In Peace.