ROMANO MUSSOLINI + JOE BATAAN: GRAB BAG


Romano Mussolini Trio: Hong-Kong
From Mirage (PDU, 1974)

Joe Bataan: This Boy
From Sweet Soul (Fania, 1972)
While flying back fro Seattle and reading this month’s Atlantic Monthly, I read that Romano Mussolini died. For those unaware, Mussolini was an Italian pianist and a well-respected jazz musician in that country. He was also the song of Benito Mussolni. Aka the dictator who joined forces with Hitler during WWII and was subsequently caught and hanged. It’s an interesting backstory for Romano, to be sure, but his music speaks for itself regardless of the surname. Mussolini was very prolific, much of his stuff was straight-ahead, but Mirage has become popular (not to mention $$$) amongst soul-jazz heads, namely for its funky arrangements and Mussolini’s choice to play a Rhodes electric piano on it. I’ve always liked this album for its sound – fusion-y at times but definitely far from overboard. I went with “Hong-Kong” which didn’t sound like what I expected – exotica – it’s actually a very nice, soulful arrangement.

Also, it’s no secret I’m a big Joe Bataan fan. I’ve spent a good deal of time interviewing him and will certainly be writing more on him in the future. However, surprisingly, I don’t actually own any of his original Fania material – I have his post-Fania albums on Mericana and Salsoul but his Fania material isn’t cheap and for whatever reason, I was slacking in going out to find more of it. However, I recently had a chance to pick up Sweet Soul and I would have just bought it on the strength of the cover alone. However, it opens with this great cover of “This Boy” by the Beatles. Hope you enjoy – I certainly did.

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