Nunzio Rotondo has asserted himself to the international regard since he took part to "Festival del Jazz" in Paris, representing Italy, and with his concert he gained a triumph in the ovation of a cultured audience (and distrustful, too) that was crowding Salle Pleyel. About him also "Figaro" music critic has written enthusiastically, defining Rotondo "the European answer to Miles Davis' jazz".
In effect Rotondo has always found in Davis a focus point and motivating forces to find his own way.
A way that has led him around the world close to the most important European and American soloists (two for all: Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins). Also the great Duke Ellington invited him to be a part of his own orchestra during a tour in Italy.
Rotondo has invented modern jazz, the Gillespie, Davis and Konitz's one, in the little Italy which, after war, was discovering, thanks to "liberators"' music, that freedom and innovation wind that was circulating in the dreams of a new generation finally not anymore submitted to the cultural yoke imposed by Fascism.
Nunzio has done regular studies and he has graduated at Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, of course receiving the highest marks. But orchestras that, after Rome liberation, went with American troops, supported his taste for improvisation that had shocked so much his academic teachers.
Between Nunzio and jazz was love at first sight. Love that has gone on for all his life. Rotondo is a cultured and elegant musician, so elegant to submit his natural-born virtuosity to a sort of self censoring, as only the great soloists can express. "It's easy to play", the audience says, but they don't know how much work, how much study, how many sacrifices does it cost to the artist to give the feeling of being easily performing a passage, a phrasing that, instead, are unbelievably complex. The great musician coincides, in Nunzio, with a warm-faced man, with warm feelings, pure. His radio transmissions, in what he rotated music, and long and smart colloquial monologues with his audience, were listened (80's) by the "partisan" president Sandro Pertini.
A pen friendship was born then, later, Nunzio could meet the great old man in person.
When he tells about Pertini he is affected: "Can tou understand what does it means to be praised (I don't say admired) by a man of that kind, of that culture? Pertini was a cordial man, deeply kind, well-informed about all. Among his hobbies there was football, too (remember his excitement during the world championship?) and, at last jazz, which maybe he has heared in the Resistance years, when he listened to Radio Londra's transmissions, colonel Stevens, Winston Churchill and, sometimes, Glenn Miller's orchestra". Nunzio Rotondo's story can be reduced in a phrase: "a life for jazz". In fact Rotondo himself gave a direction to all the Italian jazz since the 50's.
Tens of soloists, not only trumpeters, have drawn his advice, trying to imitate him in phrasing, sound and style.
Somebody has done it, more or less, making way. But nobody will be able to repropose that poetic and lyric vein which make "Nunzio Rotondo style" unique and unrepeatable.
Today he is among the great protagonists of our series Via Asiago, 10
with N° 4
entirely dedicated to him.