We recently took a trip to visit Nonna Sophia for her 80th birthday in Griffith. As I sat with her on the porch having a nightcap overlooking the family vineyards, listening to Renato Carosone on vinyl, she started to reminisce of her times back in Italy as a young lady. I could see that the records she was playing evoked the same emotions as it did 60 years ago.
After World War 2 she explained, the streets were swept with the sounds of jazz, swing and the boogie-woogie. The nightclubs were packed, the alcohol was flowing, the women were dressed like movie stars and Nonna would dance the night away to the sounds of Fred Buscaglione and Giorgio Conte. La dolce vita.
This week we thought we would pay homage to some of our favorite Italian musicians.
Renato Carosone was regarded the father of Neapolitan music, bringing elements of jazz, swing into the traditional Italian songbook. At just 17 the Neapolitan native moved to Africa to perform along with the Adis Abeba Orchestra, returning back to Italy11 years later. Completely unknown in his own country, Carosone was forced to start from scratch, which would then see him create the ‘Carosone Trio’, marking his mark in bars and clubs all over Italy. Renato had the ability to make the whole world sing, dance, have fun, dream and fall in love with his innate good humor and music.
A self taught guitarist, Battisti made his debut as a musician in the 1960’s, performing in local bands in Rome, Naples and later in Milan. He travelled abroad as a working musician In Germany and England, where he absorbed and experimented with the music of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Battisti always kept himself out of the public eye, in an almost mythic way, as he never performed a live concert and kept to the studio life.
The Italian pop singer was known for her three- octave vocal range and her image as an emancipated woman. Mina combined several modern styles with traditional Italian melodies and swing music, which made her the most versatile pop singer in Italian music history. Mina was banned from Italian TV and radio because of her pregnancy with a married actor, as it did not accord with the Catholic Church’s morals. She eventually gave up all public appearances in the late 70’s but still continues to release albums on a yearly basis to the present day.