He is one of the main protagonists of jazz history in Italy. Unless you write a book, it’s even hard to retrace the career of Franco D’Andrea, who has spent 59 of his 81 years ( he started playing as a professional in 1963) helping to develop Italian jazz like few others. Thanks to artists like the pianist and composer from Merano, our jazz gained an original identity. D’Andrea has recorded more than 200 records, also for foreign labels; he has composed dozens of songs, which others used; he has played on all the continents, among festivals, theaters, and clubs; he has been a professor of specialized seminars in Italy and abroad; he created any formulas, from piano solo to larger groups; he has played jazz following the tradition and exploring innovative paths; he has been honored with prestigious awards. Above all, he met an impressive number of important musicians.
Among them: Pepper Adams, Barry Altschul, Gato Barbieri (they recorded the soundtrack for “Last Tango in Paris”), Don Byas, Perigeo (they performed at the first edition of Umbria Jazz in 1973), Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton, Daniel Humair, Jimmy Knepper, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Dave Liebman, Albert Mangelsdorff, Hank Mobley, Jean Luc Ponty, Enrico Rava, Frank Rosolino, Max Roach, Martial Solal, John Surman, Toots Thielemans, Charles Tolliver, Miroslav Vitous, Kenny Wheeler Dave Douglas, Han Bennink, and many others.
D’Andrea says: “The piano solo represents jazz: one of the most suitable occasions to seek new musical combinations by improvising, with unpredictable outcomes. Normally, musicians have many prepare pieces of the mosaic. In my case, they can be original compositions or songs from my favourite authors (Kid Ory, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano, John Coltrane) with the scent of the different jazz ages they belong to. However, the final result is yet to be invented, the story on the stage will always be different every night.”