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Gianni Leone- keyboards, vocals

Riccardo Spilli- drums & percussion

Alessandro Corsi- bass

The first nucleus of Il Balletto di Bronzo formed in Naples at the end of the sixties, with a hard-rock band called Battitori Selvaggi. The name was almost immediately changed to Il Balletto di Bronzo. This incarnation of the band was a quartet, with vocalist/guitarist Marco Cecioni , bassist Miky Cupaiolo, drummer Gianchi Stinga, and guitarist Lino Aiello. Their first single was cut in 1969, with their debut full-length LP Sirio 2222 seeing release the following year on the major label RCA Italia. Sirio 2222 is a Hendrix-esque psychedelic hard rock record, but sows the seeds of future progressive explorations, especially in the 9-minute plus album closer "Missione Sirio 2222".

In 1971Cecioni and Cupaiolo left the band. Bassist Vito Manzari and multi-keyboardist/vocalist/composer Gianni Leone, formerly of Citta Frontale, joined Aiello and Stinga. The addition of a classically trained keyboardist and composer opened up new avenues in the sound of Il Balletto di Bronzo. This new lineup's first record, YS, was released in 1972 on Polydor. The beautifully dark YS is widely considered by progressive rock connoisseurs to be one of the best albums to come out of the 70's Italian scene, perhaps even out of the whole progressive genre. YS contains intense high-energy music with some jazz and classical influences, dominated by Hammond Organ, Mini-Moog and guitar, with strident, passionate Italian-langauge vocals, and complex and sometimes dissonant instrumental passages. Pastoral mellotron-laden parts occasionally break the frenetic pace as a counterfoil. The music is somewhat reminiscent of ELP, with its fast-paced keyboard and piano leads, but the dark diminished-chord intensity is more similar to the Fripp/Wetton/Bruford era of King Crimson. The lyrics and music have been both mistakenly credited to Nora Mazzochi; in actuality Leone composed all of the music.

In 1973 the group released their last single on Polydor, "La Tua Casa Comoda", a warmer song when compared to the brooding intensity of YS. (This single appears on the present-day Polydor reissue of YS as a bonus track.) Following this last small burst of recording, the members of Il Balletto di Bronzo went their separate ways, with some moving to Sweden and leaving the musical realm entirely. Gianni Leone relocated to the U.S. and recorded two solo albums for EMI under the stage name Leo Nero: Vero in 1977, and Monitor in 1981. He also served as a producer for other projects.

The return of interest in progressive rock in the '90s brought renewed interest in Il Balletto di Bronzo. In 1992, the Italy-based Mellow Records released a 15-minute mini-CD which contained English versions of two tracks from YS, "Introduzione" and "Secondo Incontro". In September 1996 for the Progressivamente Rock Festival in Rome, Leone reconstituted Il Bronzo di Balletto for a live performance, with Ugo Vantini on drums and Romolo Amici on bass. The trio performed songs from Vero, Monitor, and YS in its entirety, along with a couple of improvisational jams. This concert was released in 1999 by Mellow as TRYS (from trio + YS). While Leone is the only member from the YS-era band, albeit the most crucial, the new players handle the material exceptionally well. Leone is in fine form on keyboards, singing as well as he did in 1972. Leone has recently brought two younger musicians, drummer Riccardo Spilli and bassist Alessandro Corsi, into Il Balletto di Bronzo to revitalize its sound and record new material in the progressive tradition of YS.

We were surprised out of the blue in October 1999 when Mellow Records executive Mauro Moroni

e-mailed us that Il Balletto di Bronzo was very interested in performing at NEARfest. After just one phone call to Gianni Leone, the possibility became reality. We are delighted and honored to present to you the Western Hemisphere debut of Il Balletto di Bronzo at NEARfest 2000.


--full albums only
Sirio 2222 (1970)
YS (1972)
TRYS (1999)


Most of the material for this biography was taken with permission from the web site of Ted White, who used Barotto's book The Return of Italian Pop for his source material. White's Dr. Progresso web site is at:


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