Aldo Romano - Palatino

Taking drumming to new heights. For the last 60 years Aldo Romano has been distilling his drumbeats as others savour fine wine: with a certain refinement, which does not however exclude exhilaration. His elegant and extremely melodic playing match his slender silhouette and nonchalant smile to perfection.
With a malicious pleasure Aldo Romano plays a jazz that teases convention: from his free jazz experiments in the 1970s to the Romano/Sclavis/Texier trio, inventors of nomadic jazz, Monsieur continues – innocently - to advance and to change the deal.

Born to Italian parents who had moved to France (he was born in 1941), he first started by playing the guitar and did not take up the drums until 1961. Basically self-taught he did, however, benefit from the advice of Michel Babault and Jacques Thollot. First of all an admirer of Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins, he was spotted by Jackie McLean, with whom he played on one of the violist’s trips to Paris. Like Jean-François Jenny-Clark, who he met at this time and from whom he was inseparable for a long while, he was hired by Bernard Vitet and François Tusques, who, in 1964, formed one of the first European free jazz formations. Over the next few years it was Sunny Murray who most directly influenced him. He met Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri with whom he played regularly. With these two musicians, plus notably Enrico Rava and Steve Lacy, he took part in the recording of New Feelings, under the responsibility of Giorgio Gaslini. He worked simultaneously with a number of musicians belonging to the same movement, namely Barney Wilen, Michel Portal and Lacy, and also with less avant-garde musicians such as Eddy Louiss, Jean-Luc Ponty, Phil Woods or Charles Tolliver. He also met Joachim Kühn, who he worked regularly with over a number of years. In 1967, they recorded Transfiguration and Impressions Of New York together on a trip to the United States, where Joachim and Rolf Kühn’s quartet was performing at the Newport Festival. Like Kühn and Wilen he very early on proved to be interested in the possibility of combining the aesthetics of free jazz with the binary rhythm of rock music. This spawned a number of albums in which Romano played a vital part: Barney Wilen’s Dear Prof Leary (1968) is the best example. In 1969, a particularly fertile year, he recorded with Kühn (Sounds Of Feelings), Portal, Lacy, met Keith Jarrett, with whom he worked for a while, and formed Total Issue with the flautist Chris Hayward, Georges Locatelli, the guitarist, and Henri Texier, an interesting attempt at fusion in which Romano revealed a new aspect of his talent because, as well as playing the drums, he sang.
Whilst pursuing the Total Issue experiment, which became effective in 1970 and led to a record, he worked in Ponty’s group where he encountered Philip Catherine (1971). The commercial failure of Total Issue eventually caused the group to split. Romano then spent most of his time playing as a sideman, often in the company of Jenny-Clark, for French and American musicians, amongst whom appeared a newcomer, the guitarist Christian Escoudé. In 1974, he met Charlie Mariano and the keyboard specialist Jasper Van’t Hoff. He formed Pork Pie with them and also with Catherine and Texier, rapidly replaced by Jenny-Clark. In 1977 he reunited with Enrico Rava who took him and Jenny-Clark on in his quartet with Roswell Rudd. On one of the quartet’s trips to Rome he recorded an album made up uniquely of duos with Jenny-Clark, dedicated to Pavese – this album, as strange as it is exceptional, also includes a recital of the Italian poet's texts. In 1978, he began recording for Owl, the Parisian company; in 1979, he collaborated with Jenny-Clark, Michel Portal et Claude Barthélemy. In 1980, Night Diary allowed the American saxophonist Bob Malik, Didier Lockwood and Van’t Hoff to express themselves fully. In 1983, Alma Latina brought together several young musicians discovered by the drummer, in particular Jean-Pierre Fouquey and Benoît Wideman, and also old friends such as Philip Catherine. The aestheticism of these records deliberately overflows that of jazz in the strictest terms. It was to a rather canonical jazz that the drummer returned in the years that followed, during which he mainly worked in trios with Michel Petrucciani, with whom he recorded several records, then with Catherine (Transparence, 1986) and finally with Texier and Eric Barret, a young, very talented, French saxophonist. In 1988 he formed an entirely Italian group for one record: Paolo Fresu, Franco D’Andrea and Furio Di Castri.
A versatile and original instrumentalist, Romano has gradually proved himself to be an imaginative musician and composer, anxious to go further than the academic boundaries of jazz without however developing any kind of musical demagogy. This was masterfully proved by the trio he formed in 1995 with Louis Sclavis and Henri Texier for a three-week tour of six Central African countries. Carnets de Routes, which contains the musical and photographic (thanks to Guy Le Querrec) memories of the atmosphere and the encounters made over there, is an extremely melodic album, where each note and every rhythm conjures up a whole universe. Three years later the three companions renewed the experience with Suite Africaine, based on a trip in Eastern Africa this time.
This taste for foreign ambiences brought him to compose Corners, released in 1999, accompanied by Tim Miller (g), Mauro Negri (clarinet) and Ronnie Paterson (piano): “Across the world, certain places irresistibly inspire music in me. Sometimes happy, more often nostalgic. For I am nostalgic for a land that I will never know, a land without man’s dangerous lack of concern. I write this music to remember. So as not to forget Tompkins Square or Belleville, these places that got under my skin… and on my skins”. Aldo Romano or nomadic jazz…