Independent record labels

The spread of jazz to Italian and international audiences has been made possible thanks to the contribution of independent record companies founded by people of great interpersonal skills and visceral passion.

In light of the difficulties that jazz musicians still face today in publishing and making their record works usable, the activities of these enterprising as well as courageous producers take on an even more surprising and in some ways curious dimension in retrospect.

Beyond the available budget of much less than that of the big international majors, what independent labels dedicated to jazz have in common is a defined idea of a record line applied to the choice of musicians to produce, historical-musical research and publication of unreleased recordings, attention to graphic design and sound quality, which is essential in order not to alter the peculiar expressive voice of the different ensembles and the individual instrumentalist, openness to national, regional and local genres, styles and identities, is above all, attention to a qualitatively relevant and original record proposal.

The gradual implementation of record catalogs by independent labels, still largely available on the market today, has made possible the preservation and enhancement of a historical-documentary heritage otherwise lost. Sound material that gives us back the zeitgeist of a given artistic, social and spiritual period involving many European and American jazz musicians.

In the roster of labels dedicated to jazz we find Sergio Veschi’s Red Records. joined until the early 1990s by promoter Alberto Alberti, Soul Note, sister company of Giacomo Pellicciotti’s Black Saint, Peppo Spagnoli’s Splasc(h) and Paolo Piangiarelli’s Philology.

We will focus in particular on two record labels that were born in Rome and whose activity is limited to the period of the 1970s: Edipan and Horo.

The former is founded by Maestro Bruno Nicolai, pianist, composer and conductor. During his studies at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, Nicolai had established a strong friendship with Ennio Morricone, which was followed by a long course of artistic collaboration; the pianist, from 1965 to 1974 held the position of conductor during Maestro Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack recordings, leaving the latter to devote himself, together with the director, to the control and synchronization phase of the music.

Ennio Morricone in the book “Inseguendo quel suono – la mia musica, la mia vita” (Edizioni Mondatori) speaking about Bruno Nicolai, says – “Bruno started working with me because he was a very good conductor; I knew him from my conservatory days and respected him, and over the years he directed a lot of my music for cinema in the recording studio.

In 1975 Bruno Nicolai opened the Emmequattro studio and music publishing house Edipan on Rome’s Viale Mazzini, an activity carried on in conjunction with his work as a composer of soundtracks and chamber and symphonic music. Always driven by cross-production including medieval and contemporary experimental music, the Rome-based label releases seminal records of Italian jazz: The Day After the Silence, From Always to Now and Soft Journey by pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, Hinterland by the Claudio Fasoli Jazz Group, as well as works by the orchestral ensemble Saxes Machine, directed by drummer Bruno Biriaco, and by the American clarinetist living in Italy, Bill Smith.

At the same time, the Horo label was founded by Sicilian producer Aldo Sinesio and remained in business from 1972 to 1979. During those years, Sinesio regularly frequented the Music Inn jazz club in Rome, where he was able to engage emblazoned American jazz musicians passing through Italy for the recording of several records in the “Jazz a Confronto” record series.

For the recording sessions of the discographic series, the Sicilian producer brings together new and established Italian, European and American jazz names: Giorgio Gaslini and Mario Schiano, Enrico Pieranunzi with Bruno Tommaso and Ole Jorgensen, Enrico Rava and Massimo Urbani, Sal Nistico with Irio De Paula, Johnny Griffin with Giovanni Tommaso and Bruno Biriaco, and, continuing on, Dino Piana, Renato Sellani, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Marcello Rosa, to mention only a few.

Around 1977 Aldo Sinesio began producing real giants of international jazz, including Max Roach, Sun Ra, Lee Konitz and Martial Solal, Archie Shepp, George Adams, Lester Bowie, Don Pullen, the Gil Evans Orchestra . A true anthology of modern jazz in album format.

Paolo Marra