One of the most prominent and influential Italian jazz musicians, pianist/composer Giorgio Gaslini's music wed elements of 20th century classical music (serialism, aleatory) with avant-garde jazz and pop idioms; he termed his widely encompassing style "total music." Gaslini took piano lessons as a child and began performing at the age of 13. He formed and recorded with a jazz trio at the age of 16, and at 19 he performed at the International Jazz Festival in Florence. Gaslini attended the Conservatorio in his home town of Milan, studying composition, conducting, and piano. Gaslini's interests were varied; in the late '50s and early '60s he led a jazz quartet, composed for film, and led several Italian symphony orchestras. Gaslini also wrote for theater and ballet; his works have been performed at such prestigious venues as La Scala in Milan, the Rome Opera Theatre, and the Roman Theatre in Verona. Of his 40-plus film soundtracks, best known is his score for Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte.
As a jazz musician, Gaslini performed and recorded with many leading American avant-gardists, including Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, and Don Cherry. Gaslini was an active educator, teaching at Santa Cecilia Academy of Music in Rome (1972-1973) and at the Giuseppe Verdi Academy of Music in Milan (1979-1980). He was also the author of two textbooks on jazz. In 1991, he founded the jazz ensemble Grande Orchestra Nazionale. From 1991-1995, he composed a pair of suites for the Italian Instabile Orchestra: "Pierrot Solaire" and "Skies of Europe." Gaslini recorded for the Soul Note and Leo labels, among others. The Italian review Musica Jazz once dedicated an entire issue to his work -- a sign of the esteem in which he was held in his native land. Giorgio Gaslini died in July 2014 in Parma, Italy; he was 84 years old. ~ Chris Kelsey