[Editor’s note: This article was written by Michele Gori, one of Italy’s most prominent jazz flutists and the only one to hold an academic position as a professor of jazz flute. As he omitted a section about his own work I have added it on his behalf. See below.]
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The flute is without doubt one of the most popular instruments in Italy; beginning in the 19th Century, many great flautists have contributed to the instrument’s fame in the classical music area, among them Guido Briccialdi, Emanuele Krakamp, Ernesto Kohler, Giuseppe Gariboldi and up to Severino Gazzelloni, world-famous flautist who gave the flute immense visibility, even beyond the academic world.
The first traces of flute as a jazz instrument in Italy appear 1941, when flautist/bassist Carlo Pecori recorded in Berlin with the big band of Piemontese saxophonist Tullio Mobiglia. Towards the end of the 40s, other Italian musicians devoted themselves to jazz flute, among them Marcello Boschi, William Righi and Enzo Scoppa.
But the first truly important figure in Italian jazz flute is Gino Marinacci , who debuted on flute in 1959 in the album Softly by Armando Trovajoli . Marinacci, who was among the first musicians to use the entire family of flutes , collaborated with renowned American jazz musicians such as Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Sal Nistico ; and in 1971 he won the International Louis Armstrong jazz award. He also played in the RAI (Orchestra of Radio and Television) and conceived of the TV show Amico Flauto.
Among other flutists belonging to the “old guard” were Gianni Bedori , Sergio Rigon , Renato Geremia , Giancarlo Barigozzi ( musician and owner of a prestigious recording studio) and the Argentinian-born naturalized Italian, Hugo Heredia .
From the ’70s on, more and more musicians began to devote their activity to jazz flute, although most of these are saxophonists who use the flute as a “double”, or second instrument .
In the 80s and 90s , the first ‘pure’ jazz flautists appear: those dedicated exclusively to flute with no second instrument. These include Nicola Stilo, who had a long history of musical collaboration with Chet Baker; Stefano Benini , leading historian of jazz flute; and Massimo De Mattia , chief representative of the avant-garde.
Nicola Stilo , born in 1956 in Rosarno ( Reggio Calabria ), was self-taught . From the late 70’s on, he played with some of Italy’s most important Italian jazz musicians such as Franco D’ Andrea , Enrico Pieranunzi , Massimo Urbani , Peter Tonolo , Enrico Rava , Maurizio Giammarco and more. In 1980 Stilo met renowned American trumpeter Chet Baker, and the two played together until Baker’s death in 1988. Stilo spent a few years in Brazil, where he played with many of the important Carioca musicians.
His first album as leader was recorded in 1995: Errata Corrige , a quartet recording with Danilo Rea, Furio Di Castri and Roberto Gatto. Previous to this, in 1994, he recorded the interesting Flute Connection , as co – leader with flautist Stefano Benini. Among his most significant collaborations was that with the great Brazilian guitarist Toninho Horta, immortalized in the beautiful CD Duets and the album Vira Vida , with other formidable musicians such as Stefano Bollani and Stefano Di Battista. Also a gifted pianist and guitarist, Stilo is a musician of great musicality and enviable technique. He was and still is one of the main figures in jazz flute in Europe.
Stefano Benini graduated in flute from the Conservatory of Turin. After graduation he devoted himself to jazz and the study of the flute outside the classical canons. He has participated in numerous festivals and events, playing with some of the most prestigious names in jazz: Sam Most, Lee Konitz, Lawrence “Butch” Morris, Ruud Brink, J.A.Deane, Zeena Parkins, Myra Melford, Bill Horvitz, Nin Le Quan, Larry Nocella, Peter Guidi, Nicola Stilo, Gianni Basso, Paolo Birro, Bruno Marini, Marco Castelli, Gianantonio DeVincenzo, Andrea Pozza, Pietro Tonolo, Gianni Cazzola, Piero Leveratto, Marco Tamburini, Silvia Donati, Massimo De Mattia, Marcello Tonolo, Gianni Coscia, Antonello Salis, Daniele Di Bonaventura, Garrison Fewell, Nino De Rose, Duilio Del Prete and others.
In 2010 he was voted best Italian jazz flutist by readers of the magazine Jazzit. For many years he has written a column on jazz flute for the magazine Falaut, publishing more than 60 articles. Stefano Benini is considered one of the best Italian and European jazz flutists, and has earned much recognition and praise throughout Europe. He is also considered a leading expert on the history and repertoire of jazz flute. His book, The Flute and Jazz (Ed.Curci), is indispensible. He has an extensive discography as a leader, co-leader and sideman. Among his historic recordings is the album Flute Madness( 2001) with the late great American flutist Sam Most. The list of his publications, and his complete discography, are available on his website: www.stefanobenini.com
Massimo De Mattia:
Massimo De Mattia, born in 1959, a self-taught player, had his debut in the 70s working with Tom Kirk, Bruno Cesselli, Lanfranco Malaguti, Giovanni Maier, Glauco Venier, U.T.Gandhi, Gianluigi Trovesi, Zlatko Kaucic, Ares Tavolazzi, Nicola Stilo, Stefano Benini, Paolo Birro, Massimo Manzi, Herb Robertson, Teho Teardo, Sàndor Szabò, Giorgio Pacorig. In 1993 he released his first recording, Poésie pour Pasolini, and was named as being among the best Italian musicians on the scene (Top Jazz Poll 1993). With the Association Cinemazero of Pordenone he served as artistic director of Sound Screen and founder of Zerorchestra; with the Actors’ Experimental School; and with artists, painters, sculptors, poets, filmmakers and writers. He created, for the exhibition of contemporary art Hic Et Nunc, a work entitled I’m an architecture of instantaneous sounds over a space that disintegrates (Villa Manin, Passariano – March 2000).
In 2001 he gave impetus to the creation of the orchestra of improvised music Phophonix. At the Experimental Actors’ School of Pordenone he directed Scena Sonora, a series of meeting- lessons aimed at musicians and actors based on their own strategies as composers and performers. He performed on the RAI and in various festivals. With his own quartet he opened the first concert season of the Fazioli Concert Hall – The Flight of Jazz 2005. His CDs Act Of Pain and Mikiri + 3 are among those named by Jazzit Awards 2010 and 2011 as among the World’s 100 Greatest Jazz Albums. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 he was voted best Italian flutist in the Jazziit Readers Poll Awards.
The Current Landscape:
The current landscape of Italian jazz flute boasts other interesting musicians who play with a high level of expression . Some of them are listed below in alphabetical order:
Elvio Ghigliordini, multi-instrumentalist, graduated in flute in 1981 with highest honors. He attended masterclasses with C.Klem and A.M.Morini. He began his jazz studies attending jazz workshops with G.Trovesi, K.Garrett, G.Burton, San Rivers, and in 1999 he graduated in jazz studies at the Conservatory of Perugia. As a flutist and baritone sax player he has participated in numerous jazz festivals around the world (Montreal, Ottawa, Montreaux, Manly) and played with such illustrious figures as: Y.Latef, G.Garzone, P.Iodice, Gianni Oddi, R.Gatto, M.Giammarco and others. He played in bands directed by G.Ferrio, A.Trovajoli, P.Caruso, F.Piana, P.Vessicchio and Demo Morselli, and accompanied prominent artists such as Eumir Deodato, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Amii Stewart, and Johnny Dorelli. He played in the jazz section of the Roma Sinfonietta Orchetra and was a regular member of the jazz orchestra of the Auditorium Parco della Musica (PMJO), directed by Maurizio Giammarco. With them he has played with jazz musicians such as M.Stern, K.Wheeler, U.Caine, Bob Brookmeyer, M.P. De Vito, K.Berger, Nguyen Lê, J.Girotto, M.Schneider, Raiz, R.De Souza, Frankie Lovecchio. Gabin. As leader, he has released 4 cds in his own name: fluttin ‘on jazz’, Alterable, Baritonite and Free. See: https://www.facebook.com/elvio.ghigliordini
Michele Gori: (This section added by Peter Westbrook)
Born in Domodossola in 1980, Michele Gori graduated in flute at the Conservatory G. Cantelli of Novara, received an honors degree n Jazz at the Conservatory G. Verdi in Milan and a diploma from L’école Jazz & Musiques Actuelles (CIM) in Paris. He has also studied with Gianni Biocotino, Silvia Bellio, Fabrizio Spadea, Ramberto Ciammarughi, Enrico Rava and Sam Most. Gori is the only Italian flutist recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education specifically as a professor of jazz flute, a position he currently holds at the Conservatory G.Frescobaldi of Ferrara.
His multi-faceted musical career has led him to give concerts, workshops and master classes in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, England, Denmark, Norway and the United States and has appeared as a performer and teacher to some of the most important flute conventions in Paris, London, Brescia, and the USA. He has recorded for television broadcasts of the RAI 3 channel, Rai 5, Rete 4.
He has made recordings and publications for Splasch Records, Dodicilune, Nu Bop Records, Music Center, Schema Records, Falaut Collection, Casa Musicale Eco, Traversières. He has released two albums under his own name, My Jazz Flutes and Flute Stories, both at the wheel of the Michele Gori 4tet (with Roberto Olzer, Roberto Mattei, Nicola Stranieri). He was a founder, along with flutists Stefano Benini and Stefano Leonardi, the collective Flut3ibe, and worked as a sideman in formations ranging from duo to big band.
Gori is the author of educational books for the study of the Jazz Flute, Jazz Flute Training vol.I & II, Jazz Flute Solos and Play the Jazz Flute. He has partnered with the quarterly French flute Traversières, and is the author on the website Jazzitalia of a blog online lessons that appear to be the most visited web pages for the flute Italy.
In 2009 he was awarded the Brusoni Award in recognition of the concert and teaching activities related to jazz flute.
Stefano Leonardi, born in Trento in 1978, began studying flute at age eight. Essentially self-taught, he discovered jazz through records, then developed his study using the tips Stefano Benini (2005-2007) and Geoff Warren (2008). He attended seminars with Carol Sudhalter (2010) and Sam Most (2011). With Matthew Turella, Paolo Ghetti and Carlo Alberto Canevali he recorded in 2008 “E-Ray” , his first album as leader, for Splasc (H) Records.
In 2010 Flut3ibe was born: a sextet with three flutes (Stefano Benini, Michele Gori, Stefano Leonardi) and rhythm section (Matthew Turella, Enrico Terragnoli, Nicola Stranieri), open to both free improvisation and imaginary folklore as well as renditions of jazz standards.
With this ensemble Leonardi recorded Moiré for the independent label Nu Bop Records. Currently he is working on several projects, the last one together with Stefano Pastor, Fridolin Blumer and Heinz Geisser, centered on the figure and the music of Thomas Chapin. In 2014 with this lineup, the prestigious British label Leo Records released Conversations About Thomas Chapin. It appears in Night Bird Song, a documentary film on Thomas Chapin directed by the American Stephanie J. Castillo. His website: www.stefanoleonardi.it
Gianluca Milanese, born in Udine in 1973, studied music at the Conservatory T. Schipa of Lecce where he graduated in Flute, Jazz, and Electronic Music. He received his Academic Diploma Level I and II in Early Music with honors and praise. In July 1997 he attended the Berklee Summer School at Umbria Jazz, where he received the ”Outstanding Musicianship”Award for emerging musician for musical gifts.
For over 20 years he has performed in concerts both in Italy and abroad (Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece, Germany, England, China), with repertoire ranging from early music to radical improvisation. He is the only Italian flutist to have played with the Austrian pianist Joe Zawinul, leader of Weather Report. Since 2009, he has served as Artistic Director of the Festival Maggio Musicale Salentino (www.maggiosalentino.it). He boasts a large discography; of special note among his recent works is Tiles recorded in duo with pianist Nicola Andrioli. Speficis of his musical activity are available on his website: www.gianlucamilanese.it
Carlo Nicita, Sicilian flautist and composer, seeks in his music a “total and creative” concept, planting his roots in jazz, but traversing different languages and musical forms. After working as a classical flutist, he won a scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music at the Umbria Jazz Festival in 2001 and a scholarship to Siena Jazz in 2002. He has worked with Maria Pia De Vito, Huw Warren, Giovanni Falzone Yuri Goloubev, Tino Tracanna, Mauro Negri, and others. With Ferdinand Faraò’s Archipel Orchestra he won Best Ensemble of the Year 2012 in the Jazz Music Magazine poll. He had placed many times in the voting for Record of the Year, Best New Italian Talent and Musician of the Year. He has recorded about 20 CDs as leader and sideman. His records “Voices” and “Unquiet Serenade”, recorded with pianist Rosario Di Rosa, and “Taranta’s Circles”, with the Mahanada Quartett, have been widely recognized by national and international critics. He has performed in prestigious festivals, theaters and jazz clubs in Italy, USA, Greece, Spain, Lithuania, Switzerland, Malta and currently plays mainly with Carlo Nicita Orange Quartett, in duo with guitarist Valerio Scrignoli; and with bassist Tito Mangialajo Rantzer (Tribute to Sonny Rollins) and Archipel Orchestra. His website is www.carlonicita.com
Giulio Visibelli graduated with a flute major in 1981 from the P. Mascagni Institute of Livorno. He attended the National Seminars on Jazz Music in Siena with Claudio Fasoli and Gianluigi Trovesi. In September 1991 he moved to Boston where, at the end of 1983, he earned a Diploma in Jazz Performance at Berklee College of Music, studying with John LaPorta, Joe Viola, Gary Burton, George Garzone, Andy McGhee and Bill Pierce. He also studied with Joseph Allard and Jerry Bergonzi. In 1982 he played in an orchestra conducted by Bruno Tommaso on the radio program A Certain Speech produced by RAI 3. He subsequently performed with several groups playing with, among others, S.Battaglia, T. De Piscopo, P.Wertico , G. Gaslini, E.Intra, F.Cerri, F.Ambrosetti. With the Civica Jazz Band he had a chance to play with great musicians such as Max Roach, Kenny Barron, David Liebman, Bobby Watson, Bob Brookmeyer, James Newton, Eddie Daniels, Markus Stockhausen, Evan Parker, Kenny Wheeler, Franco Ambrosetti, Paolo Fresu, Enrico Rava, Franco Cerri, Claudio Fasoli, Gianluigi Trovesi, Franco D’Andrea and Enrico Pieranunzi. He currently teaches at the Civic Jazz Courses in Milan, the CDPM of Bergamo, and at the conservatories N. Paganini in Genoa and L.Marenzio of Brescia. He boasts a rich discography, available at the website www.giuliovisibelli.com
Geoff Warren, is a flautist of British nationality who has been living and working for many years in Italy, and is therefore part of the Italian jazz scene. Warren graduated from London University, and began his career playing in various ensembles of Graham Collier. In 2012 he directed the BBC Big Band at the London Jazz Festival, on the occasion of a tribute to Collier. From 1985 to 1993 he taught jazz at the Royal Academy in London, and held masterclasses in jazz flute throughout Europe. In Italy, he leads a quartet in his own name. He is Director of the Academy of Jazz Flute in Verona. He holds an annual summer course in Italy’s Abruzzo region. He has worked intensely in the field of world music, touring and recording with, among others, the tabla player Badal Roy. Geoff Warren is a Yamaha artist. His music is available on the German label TuTu, and on the English label FMR. More information on his musical activities is available at his website, www.geoffwarren.com.
To date Italy ‘s interest in jazz flute continues to grow, with a growing number of young musicians dedicated to the study of improvisation on the instrument. Since 2012, one of the few two-year courses in Jazz Flute in Europe has been held at the G.Frescobaldi Conservatory of Ferrara.
The website Jazzitalia, a point of reference for the Italian jazz community , has a large section devoted to jazz flute , with online lessons and articles by Michele Gori , Geoff Warren and Stefano Benini. See: www.jazzitalia.net/lezioni
For more detailed information on the jazz flute, its history and its main exponents in Italy, please see (in addition to the websites of the musicians mentioned above ) the book by Stefano Benini: The Jazz Flute (Ed.Curci).
For this article in the original Italian see: http://flutejournal.com/michele-gori-il-flauto-jazz-in-italia/
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