Via Asiago, 10
| CATALOGUE Nr..
||TWI CD AS 08 46
Six decades of discography have not been enough to produce a record of Nicola Arigliano’s songs that is in some way complete or at least capable of contemplating all that which has been a part of the musical universe of this great singer from Apulia. The fact of the matter is that Nicola was never an artist who had long relationships with record companies, be they major producers or independent labels. One could not ask so much of one who was so restless by nature. Indeed, if one reflects upon it in depth, Arigliano had his longest working relationship (almost twenty five years) with a pharmaceutical company, which hired him for a great TV advert or carosello, as they used to say in those days. A spot for the launch of a diuretic and digestive elixir, with him, of all people, who, thanks to the proverbial garlic cloves he kept in his pockets, had never had any gastric problems.
Perhaps the most definitive record in his long career is indeed this one you have in your hands. Here there is really all of Nicola Arigliano, outside all manner of genres and labels, fashions and editorial considerations. Not that he ever occupied himself with any of this during his career, by considering the opinion of artistic or commercial directors or of those who, in theory, should have managed him artistically speaking. This time it’s as if one had the impression of listening to all he liked to sing, first and foremost with jazz and quality melodic music, almost always of American origin.
Arigliano was in his own way a jazz “terrorist”, because of that genre he rejected as much its assimilation as integration, which are the somewhat pudgy ways with which the pathetic world of Italian jazz actuated at home its colonial vocation. Italian jazz players have indeed always thought (and continue to think) in a prehistoric way, even if now in a technologically advanced manner, that they were defending their own privilege. Which? Jazz vocalism had in him the true champion and every time one speaks about the influence “jazz singing” has always exercised on contemporary melodic music one has to think of Arigliano and his unmistakeable interpretative style. Generations of artists have tried to give nobility to jazz, to make it become “serious”, yet the nobility of jazz indeed consists in its not being serious, but being human, close to modern man’s soul also in its antirhetorical and less edifying aspects.
In our disc – which presents his classics from “Permettete signorina/Please allow me Miss” to “I Sing Ammore”, and on to “Amorevole/Lovable” or “My Wonderful Bambina”, but does not forget American classics like “She’s funny that way” –Arigliano’s voice has in its interpretations the pride of an indomitable vocalism, the resources of a vehement sensibility and is at the same time exquisite, rich of a deep charm and irresistible communicativeness. A voice alien to all academism, that swathes itself in an incredible range of tones, that illuminates itself with a thousand different
nuances, and which is in effect a most ductile instrument. His radio experience leads him to address themes never touched on record: “Vecchio frac/Old Morning Coat”, “Musetto/Sweet Little Face”, “Un’ora sola ti vorrei/One hour only I would want you”, and “Buongiorno tristezza/Good Morning Sadness”. The particularity of his broadcasts is assured by the orchestras of Sauro Sili, Mario Migliardi, Riccardo Vantellini, Mario Bertolazzi and Marcello De Martino, the piano of Franco Russo and also the voices of presenters Nunzio Filogamo and Sandro Ciotti. It is to 1986 (the most recent documentation on our disc) that dates back the collaboration between Nicola Arigliano and Umberto Bindi. We have “Invece no/Instead No”, “Arrivederci” (Nicola singing and Bindi on the piano), “Nuvola per due/Cloud for Two”(Bindi piano and Nicola singing with humming chorus), to which is added a swinging Stelvio Cipriani on piano grappling with “Night and day”, a dynamic support to Arigliano’s voice.
Nicola had started to take an interest in American music when doing military service, immediately distancing himself from the Italian bel canto but respecting the Neapolitan school. Apart the brief period during which he contemplated lyrical music, he always avoided taking lessons, but for his jazz crusade he was forced to learn how to play some musical instruments: the double bass, drums and tenor sax. Having got himself a contract in South America, in a Lima nightclub, he realised that what the public most wanted was a repertoire of stornellos or ditties. He broke the contract and flew to New York where he was able to hear live Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and the two greats who influenced him most, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine. It was in particular Mr. B, the main Afro-American crooner of the time, who captured his attention. A seductive baritone, appreciable trumpeter and sometimes trombone player, Eckstine also had some success in cinema and the young Arigliano was inspired by him also as an entertainer. In the mid fifties he could already vaunt some measure of fame. He used to work all summer in nightclubs, preferring long-term engagements, save money and go to the States in autumn, where he would stay as much as four or five months,
having as his goal the places where his masters played and sang. He did this for years, faithful to his vocation for solitude. “I have learned to be alone since I was a kid, down there in Squinzano”, he recalls, “my older brothers would go off and do their own thing and I was left at home with my elbows on the kitchen table. One day I left because I didn’t like living with my parents. Not that I’m bearish, it’s just that I can’t converse for long, it’s like I don’t have the words inside me here, and so I dry up and feel embarrassed. Maybe I’m just shy. Reading has helped me a lot and has above all kept me company”. On the subject of reading, one should not be surprised at the bonus track on the “Opera da Tre Soldi” with orchestra directed by Bruno Nicolai. Some of Italy’s best jazz players, his long lasting friends, almost all, time and again, were present in the RAI orchestras: trumpeters Cicci Santucci, Michele Lacerenza, Al Corvini, Nino Culasso and Peppe Cuccaro; trombone players Paolo Boccabella and Ernesto Pumpo; sax players Sal Genovese, Carlo Metallo, Gianni Oddi, Peppe Carrieri and Baldo Maestri; guitarists Pino Rucher and Sergio Coppotelli; vibraphone player Carlo Zoffoli, bass guitarist Maurizio Maiorana, drummer Roberto Zappulla, and the percussionist Luis
Agudo. One of the most precious records in Arigliano’s private collection indeed concerns Brecht, interpreted by the raucous voice of the German actress Lotte Menas. This is certainly not the only gem on the record. Particularly worthy of note is, for example, “Was it you”, drown from the programme conceived by Umberto Simonetta “Vecchio e nuovo/Old and New” of 1961, in which Luciano Rispoli already was the presenter. This is a piece with music by Piero Piccioni on text by Carol Danell, inserted at the end of the film the “Magliari”. Piccioni personally went to visit the singer in
his small flat in Milan, on the seventh floor of via Cesariano, behind the ex Chinese quarter. He loved his voice. As Bruno Martino, friend and rival in many nightclubs, here present as the author of “Jessica”, loved it. And as it was indeed loved by a splendid actress of those times, who with Nicola shared the popularity of a famous TV toothpaste advert, Giorgia Moll: “I’ve always loved Arigliano’s big nose. Not because of that old saying as to why women love men with big noses. The reason why I like Arigliano’s nose is another. When I was a little girl they used to tell me an old fairytale
that’s still told in Upper Silesia. It was about an ugly but very kind gnome, Harald. Well, Harald’s characteristic was his big nose. As a child I always wondered what face Harald might have had. I must have imagined him like this singer, because the first time I saw Nicola Arigliano and heard him sing I thought I was seeing Harald.”
To propose these pieces, to motivate listing to this repertoire is a bit like tackling an unanswered need, that of a request for good music and songs with class, sung with ability and wisdom, with unmistakable style and that light-spiritedness and poetic feel of which Nicola is master.