Woodstock Times "Recordings to film to dance"
“When I first began to write music,” recalls Tasso Zapanti, sitting in the living room
of his Bearsville house, “it was such a great satisfaction to put emotions into sound
and then be able to play them back. It was the late 70s, early 80s, and technology
was taking off, the early years of Apple,Commodore 68, Atari — they gave you the
option to put the sound through synthesizers, record it, and play all the parts back
Zapanti went from playing in high school bands to training in classical music at
City College of New York, where he discovered that his forte was composing film
scores. Having scored several films, including the docudrama Proud, which stars
Ossie Davis, and Hangin’ With the Homeboys with John Leguizamo, he has lately
turned to composing for dance. Zapanti’s recently released CD, Reflections Upon,
demonstrates the lyricism and electronic inventiveness that his work is known for.
“Even when I played in punk and rock bands,” he says, “people said the music
sounded like theme songs.” He started scoring student films in college and
delighted in what he calls “expressing visuals with music.” College schoolmate
Joseph B. Vásquez used Zapanti’s music for his films The Bronx War in 1989 and
Hangin’ With the Homeboys, which won critical acclaim when it was released by
New Line Cinema in 1991. Proud tells the story of a black naval crew in World War
II, when black servicemen were forbidden to fight on the front lines. Their ship
was thrown into battle, and the sailors’ courageous actions were overlooked by
history until 1994, when three crew members were finally honored for their
service. Released to mixed critical reception in 2004, the film is shown widely
each year during Black History Month in February, keeping Zapanti’s music in
the ears of audience. He continues to receive royalties from cable TV and
showings in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Zapanti has enjoyed writing for dancers
who choreograph pieces to his music and perform in Tribeca. “I would love to get
my music in the repertory of a dance company,” he remarked. “I like being part of
a collective. I like how it becomes more operatic. You can make a bigger statement.”
Tasso Zapanti’s CD Reflections Upon is available from iTunes, Amazon, andSpotify.
Chronogram "Movements in the Mountains"
Even from the outside it's clear that music fills the Bearsville home of Tasso Zapanti. Approaching via the garden path that links the home's back door to its tree-lined driveway brings to the ears an ominous series of low, continuous, humming sounds emitting from the two-story abode. Once inside, you're face to face with a regal 1930s Hardman Peck baby grand piano. Peak beneath the open top of that stately, polished instrument, toward the far end of the airy living room, and you spy its owner on the sofa with one of his electric guitars. "I don't really play the guitar," he says while thrumming the low stings to stoke the bundle of parallel drones piping from his speaker system. "But sometimes I just like to play with the sounds."
"Composing in this room always puts me in a very inspired, creative state—look at those trees," he says, pointing excitedly to the tall grove that lords over the generous front yard of the two-acre Wittenberg Road property. "They're like a brass section, like trumpets. I call that leaning one over there [a lone, tilted tree separate from the central cluster], 'the Dancer' because he looks like he's off somewhere else, moving in his own way." Dance has been another source of inspiration for Zapanti's music. "Stravinsky is one of my biggest influences, and he wrote for ballet," says Zapanti, gesturing toward a sculpture perched on a sideboard. Made from a piece of driftwood he found on a beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands, its limbs are spread outward with a graceful span. "We were drawn to it because it reminded us of a dancer," says the pianist and songwriter. "I guess I got into writing for soundtracks because I think of music visually."
"I started to want more complexity [in the music] and this was when I really began listening more to Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and other composers." Also increasingly on his radar were soundtrack luminaries like Ennio Morricone, Mark Isham, and Zapanti's fellow Greek, Vangelis, who is best known for the theme to the 1981 epic Chariots of Fire. One of his classmates was aspiring director Joseph B. Vasquez, who enlisted him to write and record the music for the 1991 comedy Hangin' with the Homeboys (starring future Rosendale resident John Leguizamo) and the gang drama The Bronx War. Zapanti's more recent film projects include the 2002 superhero flick Black Cougar and 2004's Proud, which stars Ossie Davis and tells the true but forgotten story of an African-American naval crew in World War II.
The soundtracks to the latter three films have been compiled for
"Cinematic Plateau", released this year on Zapanti's Music of Az label.
NEO magazine "Cinematic Plateau: Film Scores by Tasso Zapanti
In celebration of Black History month 2016, Tasso Zapanti released his score
to the film ‘PROUD”. The movie, released in 2004 and starring Ossie Davis,
Stephen Rea and Aidan Quinn, was written and directed by Mary Pat Kelly,
who is also the author of the book “Proudly We Served”. It uncovers the true
story of the first African Americans to serve in the navy’s front line during
World War II.
The album includes music from two additional films scored by Tasso: “The
Bronx War” written and directed by Joseph B. Vasquez (Hanging with the
Homeboys), and “Black Cougar”, a super hero story written and directed by
Silvio Disalvatore. All films are available on Netflix and DVD through Amazon.
The music on the album is a hybrid neo-classical, electro-acoustic score
composed, performed and produced by Tasso Zapanti. Guest instrumen-
talists include Alex Foster on clarinet and flute (leader of the Mingus Big
Band and SNL house band), Ani Aznavoorian on cello, Sheila Horne on
vocals (Parliament Funkadelic) and Joe Berger on electric guitar.
His most recent live performances were at the 20thAnniversary ArtWalk /
T.O.A.S.T, an annual art exhibit collective by New York artists who live and
work in TriBeCa and at the 2016 memorial for New York Islanders legendary coach, Al Arbour, in front of one thousand Islanders fans.
Tasso has received an ASCAP-Gershwin award in composition presented by composer/conductor Morton Gould. He was an artist-in-residence at the Experimental Television center in Oswego New York and was included in Hollywood Reporter’s “Who’s Who” in film and television composers. He has also written music for ABC’s news magazine Turning Point together with composer/guitarist Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart). CINEMATIC PLATEAU is available for digital download on Itunes & Amazon. It is also streaming on Pandora, Spotify and IHeart radio.
NEO magazine "Reflections Upon" A new CD by Tasso Zapanti
Tasso Zapanti’s new album, “Reflections Upon”, combines acoustic and electronic instruments, which recreate the majestic sound of a full orchestra and beyond. It is a compilation of both intellectually and emotionally rich instrumental compositions, and a journey filled with mystical adventures, as well as serene moments of peace and tranquility. Tasso’s music is “lovely, gentle and lilting”, says award-winning composer George Tsontakis.
All pieces on “Reflections Upon” are composed and performed by Tasso. Additional guest artists include guitarist Spiros Exaras (Mario Frangoulis, Mariah Carey), saxophonist Alex Foster (Mingus Big Band, Saturday Night Live Band), soprano Lorelei McBroom (Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart), and, percussionist Steve Thornton (Miles Davis, Michael Jackson).
Tasso has also scored music for film, TV, and dance. His film soundtrack work includes the films “Proud” (Ossie Davis and Stephen Rea), and “Hangin’ With the Homeboys” (John Leguizamo).
Tasso received an ASCAP/GERSHWIN award in composition, presented by composer Morton Gould. He was an artist-in-residence at the Experimental Television Center in Oswego, NY. He was also included in Hollywood Reporter’s“Who’s Who”, in film and television composers. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his next album titled “Elysium” to be followed by an album called “Cinematic Plateau” which will be a compilation of music from several films he has composed music for. Another project in the works is writing music for a documentary produced by “Right To Be Free/Africa”. An organization dedicated to bringing world awareness about the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked children forced to work in the hazardous fishing trade in Ghana.
“Reflections Upon” is available on: iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify