|It is a pleasure to think that Giorgio Gaslini's Complete Collection starts and develops between two millenniums. The Milanese composer, who in recent decades has created a cultural world not imply connected with music, is now at the threshold of the third millennium with all its expectations, anxieties and dark prophecies. In reality, the evolution of Gaslini's music and its development due to entirely original choices in an ever-changing movement, ambitiously ascends towards that which can be defined as "different" and, perhaps, finds its place beyond the door leading to the third millennium. In our case, this must be seen as taking possession of a creative ecstasy in which the symbols, images, figures and events that will constitute the mythologies can be found. It is as if the author were preparing the way for himself and for other people, heading towards new lands and following an ideal music line, which is nothing more than the never forgotten ancient cosmic totality of the world tree, through which individual experience is awakened and turned into a spiritual act. Gaslini became immediately aware of this act thus pouring into his world of sounds an amazing quantity of impulses coming from wherever possible. In other words, his "Total Music" seems to be much more total than simply going beyond boundaries and stylistic barriers: jazz, melodrama, songs, symphonic music, are no more than structures built to support an unsteady construction. Gaslini probably started with the intention of raising jazz music from the position in which it had been confined by high culture, and later his enterprise acquired different dimensions, moving towards various directions. Thus his "Total Music" is much more complex than we might think. The fact that Gaslini is not simply a high-culture music composer, the fact that he writes highly cultured pieces and songs meant to rely on the vocal ability of a jazz singer, shows that his work goes much further than a music project. It becomes a kind of philosophy of life comprising everything, preventing him from being labelled and allowing him to be considered a total artist, an artist who undoubtedly, thanks to his work, will be even more present beyond the thresold of the third millennium.
– Vittorio Franchini
CD 1 (Notes of Giorgio Gaslini)
The first volume of my COMPLETE COLLECTION comprises the first fifteen years of my recorded compositions (1948-1963). Those were intense years when the "historical" phases of Italian society often coincided with the most important phases of my life. The Italian post-war period (1946-1950) was a time of active national reconstruction pervaded by a great need for knowledge and communication, in a renewed society just emerged from sorrow and ruin. I went through that period, between the age of 16 and 21, guided by a strong vital need for knowledge and communication through music and in particular through the newly born BEBOP jazz. The second phase, the decade between 1950 and l960, was a settling-down period characterised by the fading of the Italian social commitment and by the international cold war between EAST and WEST. During this period I specialised at the Conservatory of Music in Milan where, in 1950, I got six diplomas, starting in the following years my activity as composer and orchestra conductor. The third social phase starts in the sixties, with the economic boom ('60, '64) and a new and extraordinary opening and liberation in young people's behaviour. This phase coincides with my choice of a direction going towards a new musical syncretism, through a revival of jazz experience, which I called 'Total Music' in my Manifesto of 1964. Perhaps, in the light of this, the meaning of the works included in the first Volume of the present collection becomes clearer:
FIRST PHASE (1945-50)
1. OW! and CONCERTO-RIFF: these are two original pieces for my trio which included the mythical drums player GIL CUPPINI and GINO STEFANI on the clarinet (today a world-wide known semiologist and musicologist). They were written in 1947 and recorded on 30 February 1948 in Milan for the label VOCE DEL PADRONE. This is likely to have been the first record of modern Italian jazz history. With its playful and syncretic sense, "Concerto-Riff' sounds like a real anticipation of my subsequent work.
2. For the three quintet pieces: "NIGHT IN TUNISIA", "BOP-BOP", "DRUMSBE-BOP" I am author, pianist and arranger. They were recorded in Milan ten months after the trio pieces, on 10 June 1948 for VOCE DEL PADRONE. Even today these pieces preserve and extraordinary musical freshness and reveal a clear stylistic tendency towards BE-BOP.
SECOND PHASE (1950-1960)
In order to understand the effort we needed for the realisation of our musical projects, it is important to bear in mind that in those years there were few people in Italy playing jazz and in particular that "new" kind of jazz. In this sense "TEMPO E RELAZIONE" was a sensational event. First performed by my octet in 1957 at Sanremo's International Jazz Festival (immediately before the group of the mythical Sidney Bechet!) it roused general enthusiasm and intemational success even though it met the deaf opposition of traditional music circles. Actually, this was the first example of fusion between advanced jazz language and the dodecaphonic composition technique, marking the birth of a European research group. The record, by VOCE DEL PADRONE, was highly reviewed. After listening to it JOHN LEWIS wanted to invite me to one of his training courses in the USA. At the same time the film director MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI realised that the poetics of this work was the same as the film he was then shooting "LA NOTTE" (1960), so he kept me in Italy for one month to make me appear in his film with my quartet and engaged me to write the sound-track (wich later was awarded NASTRO D’ARGENTO). The fact that this sound-track was entirely written for a quartet was a real novelty. This was the birth of a new way of writing music for the cinema, that is "from the inside". A similar experience, in the same period, was the quintet sound-track composed by Miles Davis for the film "Ascensore per il patibolo" by Louis Malle.
THIRD PHASE (1960-1963)
The suite "OLTRE" (1963), for a quartet, is a synthesis of previous experiences such as "TEMPO E RELAZIONE" and "LA NOTTE". Here, again, we find a "serial" jazz technique thougth this time new improvisation methods are also exploited (including the use of previously recorded sounds and voices). This quartet with Bedori, Crovetto and Tonani was at the top of the chart of concerts and records all through the 60’. Furthermore, later the use of a "suite" form in jazz became recurrent. The first performance of "OLTRE" took place at the Teatro Odeon in Milan shortly after its recording. The record received the "PREMIO DELLA CRITICA" ("Critics Award") and various internationals rewiews.
CD 2 (Notes of Giorgio Gaslini)
The thread of my musical research going from "CONCERTO RIFF" (1948) to "TEMPO E RELAZIONE" (1957), "LA NOTTE" (1960) and "OLTRE" (1963) (all contained in the first volume of the present Complete Collection) leads directly to the suite "DALL’ALBA ALL’ALBA" (1964). The composition of the group is the same as the one of the quartet born the previous year for the performance "OLTRE": I am at the piano, Gianni Bedori (saxophones and flute), Bruno Crovetto (bass) and Franco Tonani (drums). This was a quartet capable of working synergetically and they were perfectly immersed in the mood of the pieces being interpreted. And for approximately a decade the works I wrote where specifically written for this group whic I even today consider to the best of my musical experience. Gianni Bedori was a perfect partner, an expert musician with an authentic and personal sound, capable of both refined and vigorous expression and of being original though always remaining obsequious to the work. He was absolutely unique and precious. Bruno Crovetto was a skilled double-bass player with one of the most beautiful and powerful sound I have ever heard in Italy. He could easily alternate an incisive pizzicato with an expert use of the bow. He was a pillar of the group. Finally, Franco Tonani was capable of producing clear sounds and a great variety of timbres with the drums, together with an outstanding rhytmical originality. He had an entirely special way of conceiving the role of drums in quartet music, which went in the direction of poliphonic counterpoint rather than mere accompaniment. He had the ability to join abstract sense and functional concreteness. Furthermore, my three colleagues were always aware of the musical form of a piece, without entirely depending on it, on the contrary, they fulfilled the fundamental task of completing the author’s musical thought. All this allowed me to conceive and create the suite "DALL’ALBA ALL’ALBA" in wich, especially in the movements "LA VITA DI JAN FABBROFERRAIO" and "NUCLEI PER QUATTRO", I have adopted entirely new polyagogic, polyrhythmic, and structural procedures. Moreover, another aspect became clearer, that is my idea of choosing jazz language as a starting point towards complete music creations no longer based on stylistic elements taken from tradition. All through the following three decades this remained the starting point of all my work in the jazz field. Also today, considering it from this point of view it is possible to grasp their formal meaning. "DALL'ALBA ALL'ALBA" was born in the social context of the '60s, characterised by a general utopic rush towards the economic boom (which later revealed its transience) and by the young generations as protagonists of a revolution of customs and, at the end of the decade, a revolution of ideas. The birth of Free Jazz and of charismatic figures such as ORNETTE COLEMAN and CECIL TAYLOR served as stimuli for new openings and new hypothesis in the direction of an improvised European music. This was particularly true for people like us, who had been working, aiming at the creation of an independent European direction starting from the '50s. The social and political structures which had ruled until then in America and other areas o