Via Asiago, 10
| CATALOGUE Nr..
||TWI CD AS 05 20
Brazilians of a certain age have three great television legends: Desi Arnaz, Roberto Carlos and Enrico Simonetti, three artists of very different origins whose shows enlivened the television scene for years: popular programmes that were based on immediacy, they were well-received by a huge and varied audience, just as the whole of Brazil can be considered. If Arnaz represented in some way the birth of the chaotic talk show, including all the production structures of the soap opera, it was Roberto Carlos – with his own established show that remained practically unchanged over the years – who promoted popular music on the small screen for years. But the most surprising case is definitely that of Enrico Simonetti, a cultured musician, who had started off in classical music, studying composition and piano at the prestigious Accademia Chigiana in Siena. Everything happened in 1948. After settling in Rome, where he was a frequent visitor to the best night clubs of the time – sometimes with Bruno Martino – the musician from Liguria arrived in Brazil with a theatre company. He stayed there for fifteen years, a period in which he had the chance to learn the secrets of South-American music, Brazilian in particular, setting up an extraordinary orchestra that in a short time could rival the best local formations. Samba, mambo, son, calypso, rumba and cha-cha-cha were the genres that Enrico Simonetti, born in Alassio in 1924, perfected in a big way. Hotels, night clubs, private parties, tours and finally the great leap into TV: the Enrico Simonetti Show beat records for length and audience, counting on one formula - based on quality music and entertainment - that showed itself to be a winner from the very beginning. At that time news from abroad, especially from such a far-away country, arrived intermittently, with the effect of diminishing the role of an artist who shortly became the Italian, or rather, the most famous European in South America (together with the actor Adolfo Celi perhaps), the biggest star in Brazil. In 1960 Simonetti was among the VIPs taking part in the inauguration ceremony for Brasilia, the new technological capital of Brazil. When he returned to Italy in 1963, be began from the beginning again. First by accepting the post of musical director at Fonit Cetra, then taking part in the Festival of Naples and the Festival of Sanremo and, from the sixties, as the humorously mocking presenter, without however neglecting abundant performances. This was the start of his great popularity on television in Italy as well: magazine programmes such as Lei non si preoccupi, Il signore ha suonato? And Andiamoci piano, where he presented the frothy “Favolette per vecchiette”, from texts by Leo Chiosso, and also Non tocchiamo quel tasto. His was an atypical knowing television presenter, which ideally continued the figure that had already been successfully launched by Gorni Kramer and Lelio Luttazzi, the band leader as personality, master of ceremonies, and celebrity. Simonetti accomplished the transformation in his own way: working much on facial expression, the art of throwing the music into disorder, creating an evocative fascinating balance between voice and notes, short tales and swing, recitation by a voice and blues, advertising proto-jingles and ballads and. He imposed a style that was rarefied but extremely effective. He again presented what most fascinated him on radio as well, using other means and in different situations. With an excellent Giorgio Calabrese supporting him, he was there getting to grips with the music and times of Woody Herman, the chef d’orchestra so dear to the generation of fans who started listening to records in the forties: Woodchopper’s Ball, the classic par excellence of the celebrated clarinet player, sax player and band leader. But there was time also for the other two pillars of swing, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, celebrated in the swinging versions of Oh, Lady Be Good! and Moonlight Serenade. Classic swing style, with lots of syncopation, a characteristic perception of sound as either early or delayed in relation to the expectations implicit in a defined context, gives way to the perfection of form of George Gershwin and his The Man I Love. The atmosphere of Artistry in Rhythm is totally different, where homage to the rarefied art and impressionistic jazz of Stan Kenton is treated with a refinement that is almost scientific. Sound material includes a shrewd massive use of trumpets and trombones in a violent game of contrasts, with that Titanic emphasis of some sorties of artistry at the very bounds of whimsicality and that typically Kenton mathematical approach. Enraptured by so much exoticism, briefly abandoning the high registers of the trumpets in contrast with the cavernous basses of the trombones, Simonetti does not forget his Brazil, especially Tom Jobim, composer of Meditação, here in the most delicate of versions. However, Kenton as well – who, throughout his life, was praised more by critics and musicians than by the public at large – who loved his “innovations in modern music”, has always suggested conflicting though fascinating parallels between Stravinski and Santa Lucia, an aria from Pagliacci and a set of Cuban tumbas and congas. To obtain similar effects Simonetti uses a RAI big band of – no exaggeration now to define them - all stars and the following must be mentioned: Alberto Corvini, Michele Lacerenza, Cicci Santucci, Beppe Cuccaro and Nino Culasso (trumpet); Gennaro Baldino, Paolo Boccabella, Giancarlo Becattini, Ernesto Cucco (trombone); Baldo Maestri (alto sax and clarinet), Gianni Oddi (alto sax) Sal Genovese (tenor sax and flute), Beppe Carrieri (tenor sax), Carlo Metallo (baritone sax); Sergio Coppottelli (guitar), Roberto Pregadio (piano), Carlo Zoffoli (vibraphone), Claudio Simonetti (keyboards), Maurizio Majorana (bass), Roberto Zappulla and Agostino Marangolo (drums), and Mandrake (percussion). The piano interludes by Simonetti himself are essential. For the Gershwin and Jobim themes, based on Gran Varietà 4th November 1973, Enrico Simonetti is accompanied by a jazz-samba quartet that he himself helped to launch, with Irio De Paula on guitar, Giorgio Rosciglione bass, Afonso Vieira drums and Mandrake himself on percussion. Fantasy, improvisation, ingenuity, intuition, ability, feeling, phrasing, harmonisation, rhythmic interweaving, counterpoint, and a certain mischievousness - it really seems to have everything. Simonetti himself, who was invited to write the cover notes for Balanço, the quartet’s first album in 1972, noted: I can only introduce you to the wonderful world of Irio De Paula, the extraordinary guitar virtuoso (may God bless him) who is filled with music from head to foot, Afonso Vieira, who can draw out such new sounds so filled with life from a common guitar , Mandrake, whose tumbas are so genetically charged with the spiritual essence of Africa they seem to speak, and Giorgio Rosciglione, an Italian musician who with his electric bass, has had no need of a dictionary to understand what bossa is and make it his own.
Lastly, a word about Simonetti the arranger, who excelled in imposing his melodic design, an architecture that succeeds in alternating the magic play between sections. He excelled as well at not substituting himself for the performer, even though bound by the same laws as soloists and their language. The freedom he proposes as an arranger is solely architectural in the construction of melody and the harmony development of the themes. But the instrumental and syntactic techniques that he adopts are the same as soloists. We can only regret that ill fate snatched him from the world and his art at only 54 years of age: a genuine talent, gifted with natural musicality, and possessing great artistic generosity.