Aldo Romano | Photo
French or Italian?
The Romano family moved to France when Aldo was seven years old. Ever
since he has worked and lived in the European center of jazz: Paris. But
he still has his Italian citizenship.
Romano studied guitar and was already playing professionally in Paris
in the 1950s. After hearing Donald Byrds group with drummer Arthur
Taylor through the air-shaft in the street, Romano took up the drums 20
years old. He is basically self-taught and an admirer of Philly Joe Jones,
Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins. In the early
1960s Romano was employed with Barney Wilens and Michel Portals
local modern groups. This led to Romano playing with visiting Americans
including Jackie McLean, Bud Powell, Stan Getz and Kenney Drew.
Romano met bass player Jean-François Jenny-Clark from whom he was
inseparable for a long while. As early as 1964 the drummer was involved
in one of the first European free jazz formations. Over the next few years
the drum playing of Sunny Murray among others influenced him. Also playing
regularly with Don Cherry (JAZZPAR Nominee 1991) and Gato Barbieri made
an impression. Romano fondly remembers his first visit to Denmark in 1966
when he played at the Café Montmartre in Copenhagen with Cherrys
band including Barbieri. With these two musicians, plus notably Enrico
Rava (JAZZPAR Prize Winner 2002) and Steve Lacy (JAZZPAR Nominee 1998),
Romano took part in the recording of New Feelings, under the responsibility
of Giorgio Gaslini. He worked simultaneously with Barney Wilen and Michel
Portal (JAZZPAR Nominee 1997), and also with less avant-garde musicians
such as Eddy Louiss, Jean-Luc Ponty, Phil Woods or Charles Tolliver.
Rock and the combining of aesthetics
Romano met Joachim Kühn and worked regularly with him over a number
of years. In 1967, they made two records together on a trip to the United
States, where Joachim and Rolf Kühns quartet was performing
at the Newport Festival. Early on Romano proved to be interested in the
possibility of combining the aesthetics of free jazz with the binary rhythm
of rock music. This spawned a number of albums in 1968 where Romano played
a vital part. In 1969, a particularly fertile year, he recorded with Kühn,
Portal, Lacy, worked with Keith Jarrett for a while, and in 1970 formed
Total Issue with flautist Chris Hayward, guitarist Georges Locatelli and
bass player Henri Texier, an attempt at fusion in which Romano revealed
a new facet of his talent because, as well as playing the drums and guitar,
he sang. The commercial failure of Total Issue eventually caused the group
to split. Romano then spent most of his time playing as a sideman, often
in the company of Jenny-Clark, for French and American band-leaders.
In 1974 Aldo Romano formed Pork Pie with saxophonist Charlie Mariano,
keyboardist Jasper Vant Hoff, guitarist Philip Catherine and Henry
Texier, rapidly replaced by Jenny-Clark. In 1977 he reunited with Enrico
Rava who took him and Jenny-Clark on in his quartet with trombonist Roswell
Rudd. On one of the quartets trips to Rome, Romano recorded an album
made up exclusively of duos with Jenny-Clark, dedicated to Pavese
this extraordinary album includes a recital of the Italian poet's texts.
Romano released his first album as a leader with Claude Barthélémy
and the following years the group Alma Latina brought together several
young musicians discovered by the drummer, in particular Jean-Pierre Fouquey
and Benoît Wideman, and also old friends such as Philip Catherine.
During the 1980s Romano looked back to his earlier style, to the small-group
free music. He brought pianist Michel Petrucciani to the worlds
attention, by introducing him to the producer of Owl Records. In trios
they made several records. Then Romano recorded with Catherine and with
Texier and saxophonist Eric Barret. In 1988 Romanos Italian roots
were fondly remembered with the foundation of his Italian Quartet with
Paolo Fresu, Franco DAndrea, and Furio Di Castri. This quartet recorded
a collection of Italian songs on Palatino named after the Rome-Paris
night train which also includes Glen Ferris on trombone.
A versatile and original instrumentalist, Aldo Romano has gradually proved
himself to be an imaginative musician and composer, anxious to go further
than some peoples academic boundaries of jazz, without, however,
developing any kind of musical demagogy. This was demonstrated by the
trio he formed in 1995 with Louis Sclavis (JAZZPAR Nominee 2002) and Henri
Texier for a three-week tour of six Central African countries. In the
resulting melodic album each note and every rhythm conjures up a whole
universe. Three years later the three companions renewed the experience
with a trip around Eastern Africa. His taste for foreign ambiences brought
Romano to compose Corners accompanied by Tim Miller (g), Mauro Negri (cl)
and Ronnie Paterson (p).
Aldo Romano is inspired by certain places across the world. His music
is sometimes happy. But more often Romano is nostalgic for the unknown
land without mans dangerous lack of concern, he has said.
Intervista (Verve, 2001) with bassist Palle Danielsson, saxophonist
Stefano di Battista, and Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras is a
overview of his musical career, with Ornette Coleman inspired tunes, Latin-American
compositions and operatic arias.
Recently Aldo Romano has recorded the album Because of Bechet with electronic
and sampling colors. Only a musician of Romanos caliber could re-examine
Sidney Bechet from his own storys viewpoint and that of our present.
Bechet seems to have been locked away forever. To re-read the great clarinet
and soprano player, the whole tradition must be known from the inside.
But it is a daring process trying to isolate the part of the timeless,
which make the greatest artists distinctive. Romano was content to listen
to Bechet as he was, and play with him like he might have done with a
Coltrane. And so, in the course of a phrase improvised by the remarkable
saxophonist there might be an echo of A Love Supreme? All of a sudden,
the Rues d'Antibes, Les Oignons, even the Petite Fleur, that everyone
had been churning out for years, flourish with a color and swing in mint
condition. This has nothing to do with cosmetic uplifts according to the
taste of the day. Bechets soprano, teleported by contemporary computers
and sampling, springs up all on its own and lets itself be carried, like
the most natural thing in the world, by the drumming of Aldo Romano.
Aldo Romano is playing with a raw insouciance. He vigorously moves between
free drumming and the time-keeping role. Any group with Romano will have
some relaxed insouciantly moments as well as music with a pugnacious swing.
His compositions have a recognizable Franco-Italian style, compounded
of bebop elements with a folk strain, dance and formal concert music,
and exceed the mainstream.
The 62 years old Aldo Romano has lifted the music on an impressive list
of records with well-known as well as less known artists. Throughout his
career he has been faithful to his own and his fellow musicians
artistic ambitions. But he hasnt received the international recognition
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