Via Asiago, 10
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When maestro Gilio Razzi decided to launch a music programme using a double orchestra in October 1953, he immediately thought about how to adapt themes from the past to blend with the current music. The great intuition of the legendary radio director was mainly that of thinking of two orchestras that would add variety to the music. The choice of conductor fell on Gorni Kramer and Lelio Luttazzi, that is, on the absolute number one, not only among conductors, and on the rising young classical talent, Luttazzi, who – to tell the truth - was already more than a thirty-something-year-old with great expectations. It was an inspired and well-matched choice, which aimed at dividing the RAI’s powerful orchestra by dividing responsibilities, though this was more apparent than real. Nati per la musica (Born For Music), a title that explains everything, began on the 1st December 1953 and continued until the 30 March 1954, presented by Isa Bellini and with a fixed cast including Teddy Reno, Jula De Palma (two artists who were on the books of the recording company where Luttazzi was musical director), the Cetra Quartet and numerous guest musicians. “Guest of the Day”, “Finale in Crescendo”, and “Theme of the Day”, were some of the permanent spots in a formula that for verve and variety showed itself to be a winner from the very first. It was clear to everyone that, given the weight given to the orchestra in the programme, the arrangements would take on a defining role within the script. Where Lelio Luttazzi was so intelligent, at the beginning of his career as an arranger, was that of not totally excluding individuals or the group of individuals who would be interpreting what he wrote, including the weight of their individual or section responsibility. Maestro Luttazzi, recalling the organisation of the workload, preferred to minimise, as was often his style: Actually Kramer should have done everything, because he was better, and he was appreciated by singers and musicians, and then – because essentially The RAI wanted him. I was most honoured, almost over-whelmed working alongside talent like that, but what actually happened was that Kamer was coming down from Mila, and always overloaded with other commitments and in the end a lot of the arrangements finished up with me. I was a passionate fan of swing, loved the colour of Glenn Miller’s brass section, and was trying to reconstruct that touch of America that we dreamt about and had never seen at first hand. Actually Luttazzi did much more. He concentrated on sounds, inflections, the timbre of the instruments, the accentuation and combination of tones, with a freedom and strength of characterisation that could transcend the score itself. Listening to some of the gems in this album – such as the immortal theme by Cesare Andrea Bixio, Parlami d’amore Mariù or the homage to the great Cole Porter with I’ve Got You Under My Skin, I Get A Kick Out Of You”, Easy To Love, Begin The Beguine, In The Still Of The Night and Night And Day – one realises how the musician from Trieste was not content just to prepare the overall performance of the theme which was a background for the soloists; He actually seems to directly take the composers place, using or creating secondary themes, making sweeping use of modulation, modifying harmonies, writing introductions, interludes, codas, and searching for contrasts and blends of timbre. It was mainly the great jazz arrangers who influenced me – said Luttazzi – definitely Duke Ellington, but also those who were considered very modern then and even experimental, like Stan Kenton, or some solo performances in the Erroll Garner style, someone I have always admired. Let’s say that jazz escaped towards a symphonic climate, which – theoretically -,doesn’t appear to be inhibited by jazz or only by the obligation of a fixed binary tempo, even though, in practice, it sometimes
seems to alter the nature of the very essence of jazz itself.
The fantasy on Paris, Mon pays and the fantasy on the “stars” theme (You Are My Lucky Star, Stelle e lacrime, Stardust, Ho rubato una stella, Il corredo del soldato (le stellette che noi portiamo), Stars And Stripes Forever) appear to confirm this, giving credit to a working method that was certainly effective. In 1954 two performances of Nati per la musica were proposed, with the same formula and of course the same cast on television, defining the limits and the role of musical programmes on the small screen as well. Unfortunately it did not have the same success, perhaps because of the brevity of the shows or perhaps because even then the Radio/TV equation was not always so accurate. Luttazzi’s great mastery was basically in using the same method with the evergreens, the standard pieces, the great American classics, and the Italian repertoire. Listen to Avanti e indré, La colpa è del bajon or Dove sta Zazà, with the sections playing “call and reply”. One section follows a variation and the other takes it in, aligning another melodic variation of the same weight. Or when one or more sections support the solo with phrasing and riff, introducing the solo all together and at the end taking it up again and concluding. With Il tamburo della Banda d’Affori or Mamma voglio anch’io la fidanzata, extra-popular themes, emerge individual expression which is even more accentuated and convincing. To say that personalism and solosim still constitute one of jazz’s reasons for living today – and jazz still remains the ref- erence genre for Luttazzi the arranger more than Luttazzi the composer – means admitting a great truth, as well as revealing one of the secrets of his universal success.
Luttazzi enjoyed joking and having fun; as he does in the whimsical fantasy on the “rain” theme: Singin’ In The Rain, Come pioveva, September In The Rain, Non c’è sabato senza sole, Camminando sotto la pioggia. The record will definitely be a surprise for jazz fans, but will be even more so for those who have confined themselves to Vecchia America, Giovanotto matto, Una zebra a pois, in a word, the Luttazzi as we know him, the refined musician in love with swing who has never missed an opportunity to present again and everywhere his preferred genre. It is his own final comment that will come to our aid: Certainly, in some things I was quite good, I liked messing about, which is work for an arranger: however it should be done within the rules. That’s it, I’ve done very few things within the rules in my life, even less in music, where instinct has also had the best of the rest; however, listening to myself again, after so many years, in these writing exercises, and I don’t mean to compare myself in the least with arrangers of today or then, even less with the great Gorni Kramer and Ennio Morricone, who was part of the cast even though he was extremely young, I must say that not everything needs to be thrown out. On the contrary…. How should we define Luttazzi the arranger? Especially his lasting affection for this type of music, what sort of effect has it has on this musician, who came to the point in his artistic career when he decided to “drop out” (to use cycling slang) or prefer oblivion (to use literary terminology)? Difficult to say, and of absolutely no use to ask him directly. Let us just say that his is a very precise calculation: whether he does radio or TV, records or shows, his inclination remains towards lightness. A musician who is “light” but not frivolous. Those who, like myself, have had the good luck to be with him and often listen to him can assure you that he has not lost any of that brio, that gusto for improvisation and that magic touch that turned him into one of the resounding phenomena of the music world in the last decades.