It was the week before Christmas 2010. On the Thursday, I set off to Rome on another EasyJet flight out of Gatwick. I was travelling as usual with my large and heavy flight case full of saxophone and flutes and vital accessories like straps and stands; tools and reeds. That night I rehearsed with Jerry Cutillo’s Band called O.A.K. Maartin Allcock and I were the special guests for a ‘Christmas’ special at Antù Live Music Club, Via Libetta, Rome. The rehearsal that night was long and tiring, but the set was exciting and the playing fantastic.On the Friday was the gig. After the sound check people stared to arrive. What made it quite exceptional was the large number of young children there. Jerry has a bewitching 8 year old daughter called Isabel. She came mob handed with loads of class mates and their siblings and accompanying parents and friends. The kids were all wearing red and white Christmas elves outfits, so it was more than a typical night at a live Prog Rock Club! I suddenly decided to get them together and teach them a minimal choir part for my opening song with the band‘Corpus Christi Carol.’ This they learned quickly and with great enthusiasm. They were excited beyond belief, and thrilled to be part of the show and playing with Jerry’s band! They made the entry during my improvised solo and it went beautifully. Of course, Isabel sang with her Dad on stage and the Elves Choir stole the show. It was a great night of such exciting music.On the Saturday I was due to fly home, but all flights into Gatwick were cancelled due to heavy snow in England. By coincidence, it snowed in Ostia by the sea where I was staying. An old man joined me in a photograph session on the beach. ‘Historico’, he exclaimed, ‘It’s been 25 years since last snow in Roma!’I was upset about the flight as I wanted to get home and prepare for Christmas with my family. On my phone, I managed to book a flight home on the Monday, so Maartin and I had an extra weekend of great company and hospitality at Jerry’s home. At Fiumicino airport on the Monday I checked in my luggage as usual but Jerry had to pay an extra for my flight case. Then, he helped me to load it on to the X-Ray machine at Security. I waved him good-bye and then disappeared through into Departures. As usual, my EasyJet flight was delayed as there were a lot of problems with aircraft and crews. When I arrived at the baggage hall in Gatwick, my suitcase arrived as normal but my flight-case just did not appear. I searched for it for ages in total despair. I later joined the long queue and reported it missing to Menzies Baggage Control. I was told it might be OK and cases were usually found in 2 or 3 days, which is normal. But there was nothing normal about that baggage hall. There were thousands of abandoned bags filling every isle between the carousels.I knew the weather at Gatwick was getting very bad again as we walked across the runway from the plane. After two and a half hours of searching, I had no choice but to get my van and to try and get home through the heavy falling snow. On the Wednesday, after hearing nothing and with no information from World Tracer Services, my mood was becoming very despondent. I’ve cherished these instruments for over 40 years. Recently my daughter Dorie met ‘Steve’ in Manchester. He told her about a VdGG gig he attended in Liverpool in 1971, when he was 15.Someone took my (same) flute off the stage, and he and his mates gave chase. They caught him half way down the road, grabbed the flute and ran back to the gig. I do remember someone passing me my flute from the audience, just when I needed it – strange! All my instruments were lost for a week in our stolen truck in Rome in 1975 in an incident that made national news. This year Lufhansa, lost them for a few hours, but they tracked the case down immediately. I’ve had a few scares over the years!But this EasyJet situation however was looking and feeling hopeless. World tracer did not have a clue where they were or where they were last. What is the point of all these tags and bar codes, if they don’t scan them and process the information? These are my tools that have gone missing. They have been customized to suit my Double Horn playing. This time I really feared the worst. By chance, Gianni Leone from Balletto di Bronzo spoke to a sympathetic airport officer with an interest in the story of a distress rock musician. This man was a fan of 1970’s Progressive music and knew of Van der Graaf Generator so He decided to leave his desk and go to look for the flight case, with the photo and description clear in his mind. Later that night, he found the case. It has been forgotten in an….ELEVATOR!!!!!! David Jackson 24/12/2010
Eventually David Jackson got his woodwinds back and kept on blowing his horns. The first chapter of O.A.K.’s esoteric prog trilogy was done and saw the relevant contributions of Jonathan Noyce and Jenny Sorrenti which fitted perfectly with the mood of the project. On the album’s opening track, Magico noce, the legendary walnut tree of Benevento made its first appearance in Jerry Cutillo’s imagination, while the name of Giordano Bruno already resounded among the nightmares and prophecies of the track Giubileo. Strange but true the song lyrics, referring to religious fanaticisms, foreseen the attack at the Bataclan in Paris. The massacre took place in fact on the day after the video shooting of the song, carried out outside Saint Peter’s cathedral and Farnese square (Rome) where the French embassy is located.
“…Combative and electrified minstrels sing for the joy of our spirit and open up to joyful dances. The contact with the essence of nature, between the feminine and the masculine, is accomplished in an alchemical miracle: The androgynous super being.If much on this album captures the soul through the lyrics, which denote a study of the relationship of each of us with our origins, the compositional format – in this handful of songs – guides it admirably. The mixture of narration and sound seems to extends like on the pages of a book. Jerry Cutillo, the natural leader of O.A.K., has a theory: A Rock&Prog band must be open, polychrome and iridescent. The musicians may have been trained in different schools, but only passion must move them. In the songs there are references to English prog bands of the seventies but Cutillo does not wink and does not sell anything. He clearly says that Music is a magic circle, whose only golden rule is to become ourselves the “pictogram” of our life. Do you know the crop circles ? Well, no one knows how they appear but they express ancestral dreams, sometimes for just one night, and they remain etched in the memory like the figure of a beloved father or… like this O.A.K.’s record.” Maurizio Baiata Rock journalist
“Rome, February 17, 1600. The prison door slams shut shattering the silence. Guards gag the heretic Giordano Bruno, locked up in the Inquisition prison so that no voice or scream challenges the silence on the way to Campo dè Fiori. There, awaits the stake, the flame and his destiny. In the moments just before the execution, Giordano Bruno falls into a vortex of flashbacks and flashforwards.”
GIORDANO BRUNO, the double LP by Jerry Cutillo and O.A.K., based on the life of the philosopher, became an unprecedented rock opera. Jerry’s compositions, supported by a lineup of special guests such as David Jackson (VDGG), Richard Sinclair (Caravan, Camel), Sonja kristina (Curved Air), Maartin Allcock (Jethro Tull), Jenny Sorrenti, Derek Wilson and others, reached the apex of the new millennium symphonic prog. French magazine Koid9 declared it best prog album of the 2018.
“After a recording session with Jerry in an English studio, in 2010, I played with O.A.K. a concert and it was a great event. Then I took part in the “Giordano Bruno” project which fascinated me a lot because the last time I met Jerry, we stopped under the statue of the philosopher in Rome, Campo dè Fiori. There, he told me about the project he had in mind and after a few years I received some material from him. I listened to it and immediately called him and said: “This is great music, fantastic, please, I want to play on it”. We agreed on three songs but in the end I recorded seven and, at the presentation of the album at the Planet club, in February 2018, I played twelve! [laughs]. “I have to invite all readers to listen to O.A.K. music, especially the song “Circe”. This melody is one of the greatest in the Italian Prog history. Jerry is truly a tremendous talent and he mustn’t be forgotten or overlooked.” David Jackson (VDGG)
The double album GIORDANO BRUNO revealed an underworld of romantic symphonies and secular charms. A magical sound-dust aggregated around brilliant arrangements while the lyrics sang of hidden truths and mysterious omens. With this work, the author Jerry Cutillo transmuted Giordano Bruno’s spiritual research coloring its reflections as in a sound prism revealing its most impenetrable aspects.
“And…to the masters of the world, the wise man asks only not to come between he and the sun”.