Giovanni Mirabassi is an Italian jazz pianist who has been living in Paris since 1992. In 2001, the pianist recorded Avanti!, his first solo album where he revisited with a personal and moving style several popular anthems, songs of resistance, anti-war or partisan songs from around the world.

“Fascinated by collective imagination and the capacity of certain melodies to engrave themselves in every person’s memory, I found in revolutionary songs a musical writing that draws its truth and its strength from a state of emergency where each note is an absolute necessity”. Giovanni Mirabassi

Avanti! (2001)
Avanti! (2001)

Opening the album in a striking fashion is “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” (The people united will never be defeated), a song that became the anthem of the resistance against the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile in the mid-1970s. It was composed in 1973 by Quilapayún, one of the most influential folk bands from the Nueva Canción movement in Chile and was set to music by songwriter Sergio Ortega (1938-2003). The song was made famous internationally by the Latin American folk band Inti-Illimani immediately after the 11th September 1973 Chilean coup d’état. Touring Europe at the time, the members of the band were forced into exile and based themselves in Italy where they remained vocal opponents to the dictatorship until their return to Chile in 1988.

Quilapayún  - 1975
Quilapayún – 1975

“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” is an energetic and rousing protest song, but Giovanni Mirabassi’s highly lyrical and emotional take totally transcends the original version. This is such a strong theme that as early as 1975, American avant-garde pianist Frederic Rzewski recorded 36 variations of the song “ranging from serialism to jazz to romanticism”  in support of the Chilean liberation struggle. Since then, the song has been covered, translated and adapted by countless artists, bands and popular uprisings throughout the world.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido…

De pie, cantar
que vamos a triunfar.
Avanzan ya
banderas de unidad.
Y tú vendrás
marchando junto a mí
y así verás
tu canto y tu bandera florecer,
la luz
de un rojo amanecer
anuncia ya
la vida que vendrá […]