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Mario Schiano

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Mario Schiano is the initiator, pivot, and moving force of the free jazz scene in Rome and Italy. He began in the '50s to experiment with the concept of improvising out of the changes. His unmistakable personality can be found not only in his instrumental and vocal contributions, but also in the establishing of new and stimulating musical situations; to this aim he has played the roles of promoter, organizer, and music director. With Giancarlo Schiaffini and Bruno Tommaso, he co-founded the Gruppo Romano Free Jazz in the '60s (archival recordings reissued on Splasc(h): Ecstatic and Original Sins), the neapolitan saxophone player never renounced his roots in the "commercial" music of his formative years in the night clubs and likes to be featured as keyboard player and singer of Italian songs and jazz standards (My Funny Valentine, Splasc(h), 2001). Along with Marcello Melis, he experimented very early with combining Italian folk music and improvisation (Sud, Splasc(h)) and later promoted the Controindicazioni Festival in Rome, still the major forum in Italy for free improvisation. Many of these ad hoc meetings were recorded and issued on Splasc(h): Unlike with Paul Lovens, Maarten Altena, and Jean Marc Montera; Meetings with Giorgio Gaslini, Tommaso, and Barry Guy; Used to Be Friends with Lovens, Peter Kowald, Paul Rutherford, and Ernst Reijseger; and Tracks with Joelle Léandre and Kowald. The Canadian label Victo issued Social Security, the live recording of Schiano's performance with Evan Parker, Sebi Tramontana, Guy, and Lovens at the festival FIMAV in 1996. Schiano has always made a point to spotlight young Italian musicians (Tramontana, Mauro Orselli, Pasquale Innarella). He is a founding member of the Italian Instabile Orchestra, which features his composition "Sud" and his unique voice ("Lover Man," on Litania Sibilante, ENJA 2001). Actor, artist, intellectual provocateur, but above all a pure musical talent, Mario Schiano has represented liberty and an ironic element for the last several decades in Italian jazz, and has served as a great inspiration to younger musicians, especially in Southern Italy. ~ Francesco Martinelli

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20 July 1933 in Naples, Italy

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s