Magazine article IAJRC Journal

Jazz in Italy

Magazine article IAJRC Journal

Jazz in Italy

Article excerpt

Jazz in Italy

Orchestra De Ritme Moderni Direttra da Francesco Ferrari

Riviera Jazz RJR CD 014

Recorded Florence, 1946, 1949; Rome 1950-1951, 1953

These cats sure liked Harry James and Count Basie, for the repertoire of those bandleaders thread all through this fab and fascinating 26-track compilation. Francesco Ferrari (at the mercy of his frontliners, above) led what was reportedly the jazziest big band in Italian radio broadcasting, a group that had little turnover in personnel because the leader's arrangements were spot on. Obviously, the trumpet work in this set is rich and expressive, in slow tempo, such as Franz Jackson's hit with the Earl Hines Ork, Yellow Fire, or on the fleet Digga Digga Do, done with a quick lightness and Francesco Ferrari's accordion.

Starting at the first track, the band gets a slow sort of rocking going but the rhythm is not especially swingy on their early numbers and I suppose it's because they date from 1946, when Italy was decimated from the recent war. The cats play with fire but most tunes are intended copies of, I can only assume, some older records that were left behind by American soldiers. But despite the country's lack of raw materials at the time, these players had plenty of fuel - every rpm of their effort on Los Chiapanecas is indeed better than the Woody Herman original. And the accordion and a certain passionate quality to the solos in general make this set applause-worthy.

By 1949, the band really gets down, funky-like, as if they modelled themselves after the American bands who played mainly for the African-American community - Buddy Johnson and Erskine Hawkins - but, you know, those records weren't available in postwar Florence, not then. …

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