It was difficult – and will continue to be so for a very long time, to come – to find a way to remember Amedeo Tommasi, to fill the sudden void of his silent death, perhaps the only splint of one of the best musicians of our time.
We went in a frantic search for images, frames torn from a more or less recent past. We went in search, equally frantic, of sounds, songs and therefore we realized that, in truth, Tommasi had told his musical story elsewhere, certainly not on the records.
Finally, we went in search of words – the most difficult, the most painful, because it sticks to the meaning of things – to realize that there were not strong enough words, wide enough, heavy (or light: it is the same) enough to just take a sip, a slice of his humanity. Except one, which although inaccurate (as words often are) was used, as if it were a mantra, a talisman against death: legend. Legend! Of course, Amedeo Tommasi was a legend for real: when he pointed out a new way to Italian jazz in the sixties; when he collaborated with Chet Baker (the frame of the two, smiling and carefree, was very much seen); when he dressed in sounds films and light songs. Legend, Tommasi was a legend because he knew things that others do not know, to which to get there you had to cross unexplored territories, and his teachings were just as legendary, as his lessons. It was, finally, because it linked his name to a famous, and beautiful, film "The legend of the pianist on the Ocean", by Giuseppe Tornatore. Titanic work (after all, always of large ships of speaks, but here to sink is the very human protagonist), immeasurable, excessive; a blockbuster taken from a monologue of a few pages ("Novecento", by Alessandro Baricco): to say that, honestly, you have to be overdone of emotions to think of something like this, and put it on stage.
It's no coincidence – you know that, don't you? – that Tommasi gave, to that film, not only part of the soundtrack, but also himself, his figure, his body, that roundness that is like the unmistakable sign of a cartoonist. You can see it in one of the last frames; at the end of his long, and seemingly improbable, story, the trumpeter leaves the musical instrument shop holding his old trumpet, while a gentleman tunes a grand piano, in silence, the left on the keyboard, the right acting on the strings, turning a fleeting glance in the direction of the chamber, to say: I know, it's true, I saw it, I was there.
In this sudden harmony, in the very unhinged proximity between reality and fiction, it is not difficult to intercept how much the imaginary T.D. Lemon Novecento, a predestined name, and the too human Amedeo Tommasi, a normal name, as a surveyor or pediatrician, had in common: the ability to see (and hear) things from a different perspective. But while Novecento from the ship will end up never getting off (because he did not see the end of the outside world, without knowing that this was just the beginning), Tommasi knew how to see beyond, beyond everything. Elsewhere.
The frame I like to remember, I extracted it from a video of poor quality that runs on the Internet, an old television recording. It was July 19th, 1969, the day that would change the lives of many of us. The world is nose up, waiting for man to conquer the Moon. In the long evening that Rai organizes to deceive the wait there is also Amedeo Tommasi, at the head of his trio (Bruno Tommaso and Bruno Biriaco) introduced by an unusually nervous Oreste Lionello. Behind him, a huge, round plastic moon. Here, the sense of that roundness seems to me to represent the sense of an inimitable path. Tommasi participated in the sphere, it was a constellation, in which lived languages, dialects and senses of a music that often only he could listen to.
It was not always easy, as Fossati put it. Nor aligned: once, speaking in public, he said that it seemed absurd to him that the Ministry should tell him how to teach jazz. If anything, the opposite would have been fairer. Tommasi could not be pigeonholed in a scheme, in a model. He was music. The music that revolves around us. (continue)