drums & percussion
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".
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
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
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