What is your history, professional and as a studio artist, before performing for the cinema? And how did you embark in film music ?
I studied sax at the Conservatorio di Musica L. Refice in Frosinone, and my teacher was Baldo Maestri, he was the Ennio Morricone’s preferred saxophonist and clarinettist. He was the one who made me learn the profession and who introduced me to the world of the soundtracks.
It takes personality to be able to perform a certain type of music, this is what composers often look for when they ask a soloist to perform some melody, make it unique and make it become an integral part of the film. Probably my teacher, when he decided to introduce me to the world of soundtracks, had the certainty that I had such requirements. Everything else comes by itself, it becomes a word of mouth. There existed two associations (societies) which managed this kind of work that I was part of: Unione Musicisti di Roma and AMIT.
What were your very first film music recording? And the first one with Ennio Morricone? Was it within the orchestra without particular role or as a soloist?
I don’t remember exactly the first time, certainly in the orchestra (a big band to be precise) and I was doing the second alto sax, the first one being my teacher Baldo Maestri.
Bugsy was very probably my very first time with the Maestro, but I don’t remember many details. An incredible thing, however, struck me during the recording of Bugsy: the director asked him to change a song and he made changes without needing a piano.
He made all the saxophonists hand him their parts and with the pencil he made some corrections. And everything worked perfectly.
In order to locate your involvement, and to search out, to identify as many films as possible, what is the period in which you 45 L’Hollywood dei poveri and Stardust. performed sax, for Morricone? And for what categories of sax?
The period of my collaboration with Maestro Ennio Morricone dates back to the beginning of 1991 until the end of the Nineties. I can give you some other titles: La scorta, Il quarto re, Lolita, What Dreams May Come, the music which wasn’t used in the film. L’uomo delle stelle, you suggested, and that I didn’t remember, after having listened to the tracks45, I am sure that I played them. And probably there are other ones, but I find it very difficult to go back to that period. In Maestro Morricone’s music, I always played only the sax alto.
So, as a soloist, you begin with Bugsy, a serious and obscure music, but which makes some allusion to the jazz, especially in the track you performed: On a Street, at Night. What was the state of mind to develop for the sax: going naturally towards the jazz spirit or simply using the timbre and the abilities of the instrument?
Maestro Morricone often chose the sax using the timbre and the skills of the instrument, trying to create tension with other wind instruments or a second piano out-of-tune for instance. It could also be, however, to play a melody. And as 72 previously said, it demanded great personality in performing it and therefore every musician interpreted it according to his own musical background.
I saw that you performed for numerous maestros. What were the the strongest, the nicest experiences, musically? I don’t think there is any strongest or nicest.
Every experience left me something indelible that I later transferred into the relationship that I still live with music.
Putting images in music means transferring visual emotions through notes. Working with all the greatest Italian composers taught me how to write music in a way that it becomes the soundtrack of my life. I remember with affection, naturally apart from the great Ennio Morricone, Gianni Ferrio with whom I had a big friendship, Armando Trovaioli, Nicola Piovani with whom I collaborated on Federico Fellini’s last film La Voce della luna and Luis Bacalov only to cite a few of them
Do you think that, for some scores like La scorta, Morricone called you because of your experience in jazz ?
I don’t think so, also because in that period I didn’t have a big experience in jazz. I read music very well, at first glance, I had a nice sound and a good (musical) personality.
La Scorta gives a big role to the sax (5 tracks). On one side there is the main theme (Solidarietà e addio), which uses it a little bit in «blues» style or in any case in a «warm» way. The other group is more unusual in that it gives urgency, danger, which was in the past assigned to other instruments. Did you get instructions from Morricone about this, and about how to approach the pieces?
He asked you to be yourself, performing a piece became your personal expression. The fact that he called me again was because an important alchemy had been created, so there often were no real indications about the performance, every musician who collaborated with him for a long time had perfectly understood what the Maestro wanted.
In 1997, with Lolita, you played one intense piece. What was the difficulty?
Too many years have passed since this recording. But I can give a more ample answer about my period for Ennio Morricone, a unique experience that enriched me every time I had the opportunity to record with him. I had the privilege and the luck to collaborate with one of the greatest and most brilliant composers of modern music.
The sax soloist parts, for all these films, were recorded with a part of the orchestra or as a solo and then mixed?
Both happened. Often it was played with the whole orchestra, other times I performed an overdub later.