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Meridian 71 Combines Jazz with Mediterranean and West African Influences

From a very young age, Italian-born, Boston-based drummer and composer Giuseppe Paradiso always felt like a person who was a little different. He’d been exposed to many different styles of music as a serious young drummer and delved headlong into everything from flamenco music to jazz, bebop, pop and the melancholy cadences of southern Italy’s funeral marching bands that first inspired him. But he never really felt like he belonged with any one group until he moved to Boston after receiving a scholarship to attend Berklee College in 2008.

Inspired by the multiculturalism of that city, Paradiso’s writing began to combine elements from all the different cultural influences he encountered. He’d struggled for many years to find a musical identity, and suddenly the opportunity to work so closely with people from so many different cultures transformed what was once a struggle into a distinct creative advantage.

This is what inspired MERIDIAN 71, a cross-cultural music project that Paradiso created and has led since 2012. The project, whose name comes from Boston’s longitude – the 71st meridian that passes precisely through the eastern part of the city – is now set to release its second album Metropolitan Sketches (to be released 02/12/2020) featuring original compositions by Paradiso which he performs with an eclectic and multicultural ensemble of well-established Boston-based musicians.

“Boston is the location where I met musicians from different parts of the globe with whom I deeply connected and spoke the common language of music,” reflects Paradiso. “It felt like I had known for a long time that at some point in my life I would have met musicians just like them, from way before moving across the Atlantic in 2008. Meridian 71 becomes then the creative laboratory and space to develop this music.”