Jazz in Comparison - History of a recording invention


Among the crowds crowded into the humid quarries of Largo Dei Fiorentini, the Music Inn, in the mid-seventies the Sicilian producer, from Porto Empedocle, Aldo Sinesio was often present. Passionate about jazz, Sinesio listens to the musicians perform on stage and then approaches them at the end of the concert armed with a prompt proposal for the recordingHorus labelwhich he owns. At that time he fired a record series with an explanatory title "Comparing Jazz”: each title presents the meeting/comparison between foreign jazz musicians, who often stop in Rome with pleasure in those years, accompanied by local rhythms, but also the collaboration between noble musicians of the Italian jazz scene coming from heterogeneous musical currents.

In one of the nights spent at Pepito Pignatelli's jazz club, the Sicilian producer attends the performance of Sal Nistico and he certainly does not miss the opportunity to hire him for one of those memorable recordings. Nistico is one of the most prestigious tenor saxophonists on the American jazz scene with previous experiences in the orchestra of Woody Herman and Count Basie; his appearance betrays his Calabrian origins, as indeed many of his fellow citizens born in Syracuse in the State of New York, full of children of Sicilian and Calabrian immigrants who arrived in the New Continent: curly hair, dark blue eyes, thick neck and a 'disruptive physical energy. Arrived in Europe Sal Nistico settled in Stuttgart, Germany, to move for some periods in Italy where he was often hosted in the homes of young Roman jazz musicians, Enrico Pieranunzi and the family of Massimo Urbani, to name two.

Shortly before the arrival of the American saxophonist, together with the queen of Samba Elza Soares and her partner, the Brazilian player Garrincha, the guitarist Irio De Paula and the drummer Afonso Vieira had arrived in the capital. Always attentive to the mix of musical genres, Aldo Sinesio has the intuition of putting together the be-bop saxophone of Sal Nistico with the Brazilian music of Irio De Paula, who has now become one of the leading musicians of the Horo label. Issued with serial number n.16, the disc is recorded at the Titania Studios in Rome with the rhythm section completed by Enrico Pieranunzi on the piano and Alessio Urso on the double bass. A month later, another prestigious figure in the history of jazz arrives in Italy from Paris, where he has lived for some time now, Kenny Clarke, initiator of modern drumming during the be-bop era.

Saint Louis hyphen with Aldo Sinesio the Music Inn once again reveals itself in which the American drummer performs in concert with Oscar Valdambrini and Dino Piana on wind instruments, Enrico Pieranunzi and Roberto Della Grotta on double bass. In the engraving n. 20 from the series the trumpeter Cicci Santucci and the saxophonist are called to compose the wind section Enzo Scoppa. The former was a stable member of the Orchestra di Musica Leggera e di Ritmi Moderni della Rai, the latter represented the archetype of the highly technical but non-professional jazz musician; the saxophonist was, in fact, the owner of a goldsmith's shop in Rome, in Via Merulana. Before the end of the recording session, Kenny Clarke leaves the studio early so as not to miss the flight from Rome by not participating in the song "Waiting", inserted to fill the playing time of the second side of the album.

At this point let's take a step back to January 1973, when the trombonist Marcello Rosa, a point of reference on the Roman jazz scene, recorded the disc n. 2 of the series. Accompanying him are, among others, the double bass player Bruno Tommaso and Enrico Pieranunzi. The latter had found in the trombonist a decisive figure for his approach to jazz when, still eighteen, in 1968, Rosa had let him join her quartet after noticing him during a solo piano performance at the "Nocciolo", a small club open to Vicolo Del Cedro in Trastevere. For his part, Bruno Tommaso, a young musician with a solid musical preparation obtained at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome, in those years was among the most requested instrumentalists by the leaders of the formations of the capital's jazz circuit. The main reason for this precocious and assiduous activity in the studio, in addition to his already outstanding technical and expressive skills, is to be found in the lack of double bassists and drummers available at that time in the "square" of Rome and in Italy in general; the most requested names, in addition to Bruno Tommaso, are those of his cousin Giovanni, Gianni Foccia, Massimo Rocci (later became a sound engineer), Gege Munari. Furthermore, for many of them the jazz activity represents a second job, based in most cases on theoretical and practical knowledge by self-taught; music schools, with courses dedicated to jazz, are still far away. The contingent situations still do not allow musicians to be able to live on jazz alone, as it had not been possible for those who had preceded them, between the fifties and sixties, for whom the economic remuneration came from playing in ensembles or orchestras operating in nightclubs, the so-called "night“, frequented by the bourgeoisie of the economic “boom” in cities such as Rome and Milan.

The young Pieranunzi, then twenty-three years old, also contributes to the compositions of the disc with the song "Rose Minor” (his first ever jazz composition) dedicated to Marcello Rosa. A few months later, Aldo Sinesio engages the Sicilian trombonist Frank Rosolino, a member, in the mid-fifties, of the Stan Kenton Orchestra together with the trumpeter Count Candoli. To accompany the trombonist during the recording of the n. 4 from the series, which took place on a May night in 1973 after one of his concerts, there are Franco D'Andrea, Enrico Pieranunzi, Bruno Tommaso, Bruno Biriaco and Gianni Basso.

The album brings together the different souls of Italian jazz in full transition from a certain exquisitely provincial musical approach of the jazzmen to the impetus towards the definition of an internationally recognized status, gradually conquered during the mid-seventies by the recruitment of new musicians who rose to the fore in the jazz chronicles of Rome; on the one hand we find Marcello Rosa who, having learned of the recording, offers to participate with a piece with Spanish tones "Toledo“, performed live on the previous concert occasions, on the other we find Enrico Pieranunzi who, in the afternoon of the same day of the recording of the disc, performs a classical music concert, preparatory to the diploma, on scores by Fryderyk Chopin at the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. In doubt whether to follow the classical or jazz path, the pianist will shortly opt for the second choice, while cultivating an exciting and qualifying interest in both musical branches over the course of his career, sometimes making them skilfully coincide. Following the preparatory phase as side man in the discs mentioned, Enrico Pieranunzi records in his name in 1975 the n. 24 from the series with Bruno Tommaso and Ole Jorgensen, a Danish drummer who arrived in Italy thanks to the singer Bruno Martino, then very famous in Denmark, for an engagement in Versilia, where he met an Italian girl and married her shortly after. With this record work, the Roman pianist begins to measure himself more with composition, a vocation that over time will prove to be an identifying trait of his artistic work, inseparable from the purely executive and improvisational one.

But more importantly, the disc recorded for the "Jazz a Comparison" series imposes Enrico Pieranunzi as a revelation of the new Italian jazz scene. A result, as occurred in the case of other young musicians, also made possible thanks to the original work of Aldo Sinesio, a producer with a farsighted recording vision.

Paolo Marra

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