At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Dado Moroni - jazz musician

Self-taught pianist recorded first album at 17


Dado Moroni has become a major figure in jazz music in Italy and internationally
Dado Moroni has become a major figure in jazz
music in Italy and internationally
The renowned jazz musician Edgardo ‘Dado’ Moroni was born on this day in 1962 in Genoa.

Moroni, who learned at the feet of some of the greats of American jazz music in Italian clubs in the 1980s and 90s, has recorded more than 25 albums, having released his first when he was only 17.

He has appeared as a guest on many more albums and built such a reputation as a pianist and composer that he was able to become part of the American jazz scene himself in the 1990s, when he lived in New York.

Moroni attributes his love of jazz music to his father’s passion for the genre, which meant that he grew up listening to the likes of Earl Hines, Fats Waller and Count Basie.

Using a piano his parents had bought for his sister, Monica, he taught himself to play many of the songs he heard on the record player, receiving his first informal tuition from his mother, who played the accordion.

Dado Moroni on stage with the guitarist Luigi Tessarollo
Dado Moroni on stage with the guitarist Luigi Tessarollo
Formal piano lessons were arranged for him with the Genoa jazz pianist Flavio Crivelli, who introduced him to the music of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie and contemporary pianists like Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal and Oscar Peterson.
Moroni progressed so rapidly he was able to play professionally in clubs from the age of 14.  The Italian jazz scene while he was growing up was popular but not wealthy.  Club owners were keen to hire famous artists but could not always afford to pay for support musicians.

This worked to the advantage of up-and-coming Italian musicians such as Moroni, who were more than happy to make up the numbers. Moroni found himself accompanying such internationally renowned names as Harry “Sweets” Edison, Freddie Hubbard, and even greats such as Peterson and Gillespie when they were on tour in Europe.

It was Gillespie, Moroni said, who persuaded him to back his own talent and pursue a career in music after doubts about his ability to make a living had led him to embark on studies for a law degree.

The cover of one of Moroni's early albums
The cover of one of Moroni's early albums
Moroni began a collaboration with two other Italian jazz musicians, Tullio de Piscopo and Franco Ambrosetti. At just 17 years old, he recorded an album with De Piscopo and the American bassist Julius Farmer and another with Ambrosetti and the Danish bass player Niels-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen.

Through the 80s, he played at festivals and clubs across Europe, often with a trio led by Duke Ellington’s former bassist, Jimmy Woode.  In 1987, at the age of just 25, he was invited as the only European musician to be part of the jury of the Thelonious Monk international piano award held in Washington in 1987.

Moroni moved to the United States in 1991 and became part of the New York jazz scene, performing with several bands and contributing to the rich heritage of Italian musicians in America. He appeared at the most prestigious jazz clubs in the city, such as the Blue Note, Birdland, Bradley’s and the Village Vanguard.

In 1995 he returned to Italy to join the classical pianist Antonio Ballista in a project called “Two Pianos, One Soul”, which played some of Italy’s major theatres, among them the Teatro Comunale in Ferrara, the Teatro Regio in Turin, the Teatro Verdi in Florence and the Teatro Carlo Felice in his native Genoa. Moroni won the prestigious Umbria Jazz Award in the same year.

In 2007 he won the "Best Jazz Act" at the Italian Jazz Awards. He is now based permanently in Italy and continues to record and tour, while at the same time teaching jazz piano at the Como Conservatory of Music. 

The Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, taken from Piazza Matteotti
The Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, taken from Piazza Matteotti
Travel tip:

The port city of Genoa, where Moroni was born, is the capital of the Liguria region. It has a rich history as a powerful trading centre with considerable wealth built on its shipyards and steelworks, but also boasts many fine buildings, among them the 13th century Palazzo Ducale, the 16th century Royal Palace and the Romanesque-Renaissance style San Lorenzo Cathedral. The area around the restored harbour area offers a maze of fascinating alleys and squares, enhanced recently by the work of Genoa architect Renzo Piano, and a landmark aquarium, the largest in Italy.

The facade of Como's Gothic Duomo
The facade of Como's Gothic Duomo
Travel tip:

Como is a city with a population of just over 85,000 at the southern tip of Lake Como, a little under 60km (37 miles) north of Milan. It is notable for its Gothic Cathedral, the facade of which incorporates statues of the famous comaschi Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. There is a spectacular scenic funicular railway linking Como with the village of Brunate and a number of museums, including the Museo Didattico della Seta, which traces the history of Como's silk industry, and the Tempio Voltiano, dedicated to Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. Just north of the city are the lakeside gardens of the palatial Villa Olmo, as well as other stately villas.

More reading:

Lucio Dalla - the jazz sax player and composer who wrote the haunting song Caruso

The band leader who became an Italian pioneer of jazz and swing

The wide-ranging talents of Tiziana 'Tosca' Donati

Also on this day:

1950: The birth of TV presenter Mara Venier

1951: The birth of football manager Claudio Ranieri


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