Massimo Gatti

Massimo Gatti can be considered one of the best modern European mandolinists. Forty-five, from Milan, he has developed a considerable set of technical baggage as far as bluegrass is concerned, and this is a great passion that he has not yet forgotten. He started his musical training at the Conservatory, where he approached the piano at a very young age. Then acoustic guitar and then immediately afterward – we’re in 1975 – he was thunderstruck by the mandolin. In 1977 he founded Bluegrass Stuff, the first Italian bluegrass band, which is still active, and started up numerous projects all aimed at music that is rigorously acoustic. He concentrated on the study of Composition at the Civica Scuola di Musica in Milan and at the same time debuted with Abacus, an acoustic trio which he appeared with many times on the Italian television channel, RAI. His return to North American music came about with Hot Stuff, a group that made a claim for itself in Europe as well as the United States and Japan at the end of the eighties. Hanging out on the Milan musical scene resulted in important encounters: first with Claudio Sanfilippo, a refined songwriter with whom he appeared in Sanremo in competition for the Premio Tenco award in 1985 and in 1996, then with Riccardo Zappa, one of the most interesting guitarists on the Italian scene as well as editor of the series Collana Strumento for the DDD label. He did the CD “Frangenti” with him, and this recording won enthusiastic praise from critics all over the world in 1990. In this CD Gatti successfully explores the territory of composition, drawing inspiration from the atmosphere of so-called “New Acoustic Music”, but giving preference to melodic elements which are more like spectacular technical displays. It was surprising when David Grisman, authority and tutelary sprit of modern mandolinists, recognized Gatti’s work in the preface to the CD: "... Massimo Gatti is one of the new breed of mandolin players all over the world who are re-reinventing mandolin music, and I congratulate him".

His piece Frangenti that gives the title to the album was recorded in 1995 by the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble for their debut album Plectrasonic and by George Winston on his last album "Plains", which got a Grammy nomination.

Over the past few years he has worked on four different fronts: an ensemble with the name Massimo Gatti Quintet; Euro Grass, a bluegrass group with French, Spanish and Austrian musicians; the trio Carolan Consort, inspired by the music of the famous Irish harpist. And he continues to play with Bluegrass Stuff, who celebrate their 25th anniversary this year.

So far he has recorded eleven CDs, and played on at least ten others with Rino Zurzolo, Aldo Navazio, Riccardo Zappa, Claudio Sanfilippo, Jens Krüger, etc. We should also note that he collaborated on Fabrizio De Andrè’s (the Italian most famous songwriter) latest recording, Anime Salve, in the very beautiful opening piece Princesa.

He has also created a new label, Arcipelago, and his latest work with his original compositions , Il Sogno di Icaro, is on it.


Q - How in the world did a guy from Italy get started playing bluegrass?

A - It was because I bought a wrong cd. I was involved in the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Yong and I've listen to a friend a record of the New Riders of the Purple Sage that I wanted to buy. I went in the record shop and I cannot remember the name of the band. The man in the shop after listening my description of the music and of the band gave me Uncle Charlie from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I went home and while I was listening the LP I was really impressed from the two bluegrass instrumentals on that album Randy Lynn Rag and Clinch Mountain Backstep. I went again to the record shop and I bought Will the Circle be Unbroken. This was the first time that I did listen to Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clement, Earl Scruggs.

In that period I was playing acoustic guitar and a little bit of mandolin and I decide to buy a b*#*o. I couldn't find a 5 string banjo in Milan, but I had a friend in Recanati who happen to be the the daughter of the EKO owner. I don't know if you are familiar with Eko but in the 70s was very popular in Europe, They produced guitars, electric mandolins, bouzouki and keyboards. They also produced b*#*os and when I went to Recanati for summer holidays I bought a 5 string.

v I couldn't find any method or teacher and I didn't know how to tune it so I started to play with 2 fingers. After some months I found in a shop in Milano a copy of Peter Wernick banjo method . With a friend that played guitar we started a duo and we were looking for other musicians. After a while we found a b*#*o player and I switched definitively to mandolin.

Then we added a bass player and a fiddle player and in 1977 we started the first bluegrass band in Italy "Bluegrass Stuff" with whom I still play today. You can give a look

In that period in Italy were popular Country Gazette and Seldom Scene whose records were reprinted in Europe and sold at nice price. I was involved only in modern and progressive bluegrass and I didn't like at all the cds of Bill Monroe that I found at that time like Father & Son and a couple of others.

When I saw Bill Monroe live in Switzerland in 1988 I was so impressed that I started to play traditional bluegrass and study deeply Monroe style.

Beside that I have always played my own compositions and other kind of music.


Q - What part of Italy are you from? How has this influenced you (if at all) in your musical development or you choice of instrument to play?

A - I'm from Milano in the North of Italy. Milan is one of the biggest town in Italy. It doesn't influenced on my choice of instrument to play but it helped to be here because there are a lot of musicians and different kind of music.

I started as a classical piano player when I was 6 years old and I played till I was 13. Then I studied by myself acoustic and electric guitar and I switched definitively to mandolin when I was 16 years old.


Q - Does your band sing strictly in English, or do you also sing in Italian?

A - Bluegrass Stuff is a real traditional band. We played tune of Flatt & Scruggs, Stanley Bros, Monroe and Jimmy Martin. It's sound ridicolous to sing in Italian this kind of songs. Italian language has not the swing of English language. All our words ends with vocals. But we have arranged some Italian famous song in bluegrass style and when we play festival in Europe we get always standing ovation for that!


Q - Do you think that bluegrass groups, no matter where in the world they are located, should sing in English to be true to the American roots of the musical style?

A - No if they play their own original songs but if they play traditional bluegrass in my opinion they should sing in English.


Q - Murder ballads exist in every culture. They certainly are present in bluegrass and Appalachian music. If you have the thought that "All murder ballads have a similar function in their cultures", have you taken the murder songs from Italian folk music and adapted them to bluegrass instrumentation? If so, was the experiment(s) successful?

A - I don't know a lot about murder song in Italian and I've never tried to adapt them to bluegrass instrumentation. But the last year we made a very interesting experience. A tenor singer contacted me because he wanted to record protest songs of the beginning of the century with an acoustic band. He come with me to one of our rehearsahl with the bluegrass band and he went crazy about the sound. He got the idea to record this songs with the bluegrass instrumentation. I worked with him and we arranged the songs and after some rehearsahl we recorded all the material live in the studio. We enjoyed a lot and the result is weird but beautiful. The CD is not out yet.


Q - In the realm of (modern) Italian folk groups (real Italian folk, not the Italian version of The Irish Rovers!), who do you recommend? I like some of the northern Italian groups - Campagnia Strumentale Tre Violini, Baraban, La Piazza.

A - I don't listen very much to Italian folk group. Baraban are good friends of mine and they make modern arrangements of folk music of the North of Italy. I would add to your list Riccardo Tesi e Banda Italiana.


Q - I remember you saying that you are a friend of John Monteleone, a former CGOW. How did you get to know John?

A - It was always a dream of mine to own a Monteleone, but it was too expensive for me fifteen years ago to get one. In 1990 I bought through Dexter Johson of Carmel music a 10 string Monteleone at a very good price in mint condition. The saddle of the bridge has a very strange string spacing. The E A D G strings very very near to each other and the low C father away. A luthier friend of mine made a new MOP nut with equal distance between the couple of strings and meanwhile I wrote to John asking him if he could make a new saddle for me. He was very kind and offered to me to do it at no cost. He wanted only that I found for him where he could buy an Italian book about a luthier that he couldn't find in the States.

In 1996 I went in the states with Euro Grass and during my trip to Nashville I stopped in New York to my friend Larry Wexter because there was a concert of David Grisman that night. I didn't see David since many years and I wanted to see his band live. David has reserved some tickets for me, Larry and John and before the concert I had the opportunity to meet Monteleone in person. I remember that night John has taken with him his new Radio Flyer mandolin for showing to david and to us.. He asked David if he wanted to play one tune with it during the concert. At the end of the first set David took the Radio Flyer and started to play a tune. He became always more wild and played all the most crazy thing out of this mandolin. John was very troubled because he doesn't know if the new tailpiece could resist to what David was doing and said to me "If it doesn't break tonitght it will never happen nothing in the future!"


Q - John told me a great story about doing a workshop in Cremona for Italian F-5 builders and then going to a cemetery and standing on the grave of Stadivarius for inspiration. Do you have any good Monteleone stories?

A - The workshop was in Pieve di Cento where Mario Macaferri was born in May 2000. I contacted John because the director of the School of Liuthery in Milano asked me to choose a great mandolin maker for this workshop. We had a great time together. The only problem was that the week that John spent in italy was the hottest of the year. The second day of the workshop we decided to take the table for working in the street under the place where we worked and stay there because there was a cool breeze. John liked so much his experience to work open air in the street with all the people that looked at us and the cars that pass nearby that we repeated it in the following days. I hope John give his contribution to this argument. He could explain better everything and talk about our trip with no air condition from Milano to Pieve!

John Monteleone responds:

Massimo has requested that I comment on our trip to Pieve di Cento, and I will be glad to add to it.

What Massimo is referring to here happened to be one of the hottest summers on record in northern Italy, aside from another record breaker this year as well. It was noticeably hot that morning in June 2000when Massimo picked me up for our drive to Pieve di Cento, a very charming old small city between Bologna and Farrara. As Massimo mentioned, Cento is the town where Mario Maccaferri was born. As the local communities were celebrating the lives of both Mario and his mentor, Luigi Mozzani, they had invited me in part because of my working association and close friendship with Mario, and also for of my archtop experience.

As I was so much looking forward to Massimo's air-conditioned car you can imagine the look on my face when he informed me that his AC was not working that day. I swallowed hard and on we drove. Several hours later we arrived in Pieve and I was all but dead from hot exhaution and a painful one arm sunburn. We were greeted [warmly] by our host who took us to a very fine but rather heavy late lunch. After a one hour rest in my hotel room oven I got a call from our host to come for dinner at his house in a half hour. Not wanting to disappoint, I buzzed Massimo and off we went to dinner. I thought I was going to die. And the dinner was spectacular with fantastic foods and wine and special guests. I was near delirium and found myself choosing a spot to land gracefully should I just happen to pass out. I didn't want to go face first into my pasta, which might have insulted my host.

I somehow survived that day, although if the good lord chose to do so I was ready to meet my maker, as I had some of the finest food and wine that one could experience.

As miracles go, after heat stroke and hardly a wink of sleep [ on top of everything else I was not prepared for the local church bells chiming every hour through the night, a charming touch, however non conducive to sleep] I was ready to go the next morning and begin the class.

But the heat continued to be unbearable and the local school, un air-conditioned of course, of luthery where I held my class had decided to carry the workbench down three flights of stairs and into the street under the shady arch of the gate to the city. It was a livesaver and I was able to revive myself and actually do some carving. The mandolin top that I am seen carving in the enclosed picture finally wound up being used on a special mandolin that I recently completed called THE BLACK & TAN. More on that mandolin another time. Massimo can be seen standing next to me in the photo.

On my return to Italy a few weeks ago Massimo proudly demonstrated his wonderful AC system in his new car and he made sure that it was always on for me. What a guy!

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, the list won't accept attachments os I can't forward the picture to the list.


Q - Don't you own a Monteleone mandolin?

A - Yes. It's a Grand Artist deluxe blonde. John take this instrument with him for the workshop in Pieve and I liked so much that I decided to buy it. John made a fair price to me and also let me given him the money in several months. It's by far the best new mandolin I ever played. And also record beautiful!


Q - I heard you recently got a new mandola. How do you like your new 2 point mandola? If I'm not mistaken it was built by John Monteleone? Can you describe it for us?

A - Yes, it's a new model Monteleone mandola. I don't know if you are familiar with the Baby Grand mandolin John made some years ago. It has the same shape but with different features. Dolphin holes, tailpiece etc that mach my Grand Artist De luxe. John hasn't given yet a name to this model. I call it Baby Grand de Luxe Mandola.

It has an intermediate scale of 16.5 between the Gibson and the modern mandola. I had a Gilchrist mandola with 17.5 inch scale that sounded beautiful but was very hard for me to play. On the other side the short Gibson scale doesn't has enough tension for the le low C. With John we decided to make something between. A very playable instrument with enough tension to give the low C a deep sound. The result is an incredible sounding mandola playable like a mandolin. I like it very much. It's sweet, loud and has a balance all over the neck.


Q - I understand you've owned other instruments by John as well as some by Steve Gilchrist among others. I also heard you have built mandolins, is this true? What are you playing as your main mandolin these days?

A - I build an F5 mandolins many years ago. It takes me 3 year to complete it, but I decided not to build other instruments. It involved me too much. When I started the instruments, during summer 1990, I worked 1 month full day to complete the body. In that period I haven't played mandolin at all because I was so exited to build that instrument that I thought all day long about back. When I realized that I needed to play, I decided to take my time and I went to worked 2 or 3 night a week to a friend luthier for completing the mandolin. It takes me 3 years. I'm pleased with the sound. It's very woody and I use it for playing bluegrass. I've learned to curved instrument when I was young: one of my closest friend was a violin maker and teach me how to curve an instrument.

This are my mandolins today:
Paul Duff F5 Fern x braced made in January 2002. A great Bluegrass mandolin Monteleone Grand Artist De luxe blonde with some Radio Flyer parts. The best mandolin I ever owned. I use for my own music and also it's good for bleugrass.

Peter Coombe matched Mandolin and Mandola A Style Oval hole. Very sweet sound. I use for my trio with guitar and cello.

The Gatti F5 mandolin x braced that I made in January 1993. It's sound very woody. I use too for bluegrass

Detschler classical mandolin. It's a builder from Germany that made on my request a classical German mandolin with an F5 scale.

I owned and sold a lot of great instruments:
Mike Vanden F5 made in 1980 (the luthier that made all Simon Mayor mandolin family instruments)
Steven Andersen F5 made in 1989
Gilchrist F5 X braced made in 1992
Gilchrist F4 made in 1993
Monteleone 10 strings made in 1986
Nugget 2 points made in 1996
Smart A style Comet mandolin made in 1997
I also owned a quartet of custom Mandolin, Mandola, Mandocello and Octave Mandolinmade by Stephen Gilchrist that I sold 2 years ago in a batch for collect some money and buying a flat.
I was Gilchrist Exclusive European Distributor since 1994 till 2000 and I had the opportunity to see and play a lot of his mandolins.


Q - I've enjoyed your recordings and wonder what you have been working on recently, any new projects we should be looking for?

A - I have recorded with my trio a CD of O'Carolan tunes arranged for mandolin/mandola, cello & guitar that hopefully will be realized this year.


Q - You told us about the Montelone but what mandolin are you holding in your website photo and what mandolin did you use on the Bluegrass Breakdown soundbite? Impressive!

A - On the photo on the website I hold the mandolin I made, The Gatti. On bluegrass breakdown I used that mandolin.


Q - I sounds like you did study Monroe pretty heavy. How far back in the Monroe sound did you listen to if you didn't like the later ones?

A - It's true. I studied Monroe stuff a lot in the past 15 years. I like all Monroe recordings also the latest one. When I was young I didn't like Bill Monroe stuff, I preferred New Grass revival and progressive bluegrass and my favorite mandolin player was David Grisman that I still like a lot. After I saw Monroe live in 1988 I changed my mind. Living in Europe didn't gave me the possibility to see all this great bluegrass master. Monroe came 2 times in the old world and Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Jimmy Martin never from what I know.

The Monroe style that I like the most is that of the 50s where he used that all down stroke bluesy licks. It's so powerful and full of energy.


Q - We have had a discussion recently about the best Monroe tunes, either that he personally wrote or that he just recorded. What do you think are the best Monroe tunes? (P.S., I voted for Bluegrass Stomp. Don't let me down!)

A - This question is real difficult to answer. I see the list and I like them all. I write a list of the ones I like to play the most and never bore me:

Bluegrass Twist
Bluegrass Breakdown
Jerusalem Ridge
My Last day on Earth
Get Up John
Old Danger Field
Jekyll Island
Boston Boy
Come Hither to Go Yonder
Watson Blues
Lonesome Moonlight Waltz
Pike County Breakdown


Q - Massimo, here are Lawrence Smart's comments about his Comet A model. As a former owner of that instrument, what comments would you make?

A - I totally agree with Lawrence Smart description of the instrument. The tone is something between an f-hole and oval hole instrument. It has a lot of harmonics and a long sustain. It was not a loud instrument and doesn't cut very well in a band but I enjoyed to play it.

I liked very much the idea behind this project and also the visual appeal of that mandolin but I always though it could be improved. I had not the opportunity to play the one with the hole on the side but I believe it would sound better than the first one.

Lawrence Smart comments:

The list's Peter Mix, I think, dubbed this model the Comet. I originally was calling it the Cyclops (less poetic) and I've heard it called the Bearclaw. I think it has been a successful experiment and I look forward to doing some more. My impressions of the tone, as I recall, are that they have a very complex and rich low-end, with an articulate, clean sounding treble, closer in sound to an oval-holed mando. These instruments Probably don't have the overall volume and push/punch that a regular F hole instrument does, but I've been told by a list member who sometimes plays one with a large mandolin ensemble, that his mandolin can be heard and identified within the mix. I haven't heard the mandolin in quite some time and would love to hear how it has developed.

These were graduated a little thinner than normal and the first one had asymmetric X bracing, with the treble-side brace being oriented more like a tone-bar. In the future, I think I'll make the top and bracing lighter still. The 2nd, has a hole cut into the bass-side rim at the widest point of the mando to provide more "venting" of the air cavity.

I put the "comma" hole on the treble side of the top mostly so it could hit a microphone more easily. I wonder what putting the hole on the bass side would do. I doubt that the shape of the hole matters that much, but the size affects the air resonance, and the placement affects the areas on the top plate that are functionally weakened from having holes cut into them.

I've yet to build one of these with maple back and sides, so comparing it with a maple instrument is hard to do objectively. Hope this helps.

Lawrence Smart


Q - Massimo, I noticed "Get Up John" and "My Last Days on Earth" on your list of Monroe favorites. What tunings do you use on these, and do you keep a separate mandolin for alternate tunings?

A - I use the following tuning:
Get Up John F#A DD AA AD
My Last Day on Earth AA DD AC DF

Yes I keep a separate mandolin for alternate tunings.


Q - What does Massimo think of banjo-mandolins or mando-banjos whichever name they may be referred to nowadays?

A - I have no experience with banjolins. I have just played a couple in my life and I don't like them very much. I will never buy one.


Q - I have no musical training or background, and I wonder how you go about composing a piece of you hear a melody line first, or do you work from a chord progression, or??...I have some songs which come to me, almost fully formed in terms of the melody line ,> but then I can't easily share them with others until I come up with appropriate chords, and I am often not sure how to go about that. Then there is the whole issue of arranging for a group....if I leave it to the other musicians, it can be good, but it can also change into something different from what I heard in my head, and if I hear the something different often enough, I can "lose" my original...any suggestions?

A - Don't feel ashamed not having a musical training. A lot of great composers and musicians could play without knowing a single note on paper. My experience was different from your, but I had a lot of difficulties too. I've studied classical piano since when I was 6 year old. When I was 13 some friends asked me if I wanted to play keyboard in a rock band. When I went to the first rehearsal I realize I wasn't able to play a single note without a music sheet in front of my face. After that experience I've started to learn by myself guitar and some years later mandolin and I didn't read fro purpose music for many year. I started to play different kind of music and learn how to find a melody by ear and how to improvise etc. After 15 years I started to study again classical composition and during the years I was learning I couldn't compose anymore because there were too rules. When I finished my studies I started to write again and I realize that it was worth to study because my compositions were more orchestral. Concerning my composition I always start with melody. Chord are the last step.

When I have an idea of a song I always record it immediately on a tape or mini disc. If I succeed in concluding the song I record it otherwise I let on tape the idea and maybe I listen again also some years later and if I find something good I conclude the piece.

Concerning the chords when the melody is ready I record it and I play together with the tape looking which chords sound better to me. I think for you could be very useful. When I rehearse with the band my new song I give them the chords and I play the melody. If some member of the band find a chord that I like more than the one I though I'm ok to change it.


Q - I hear from John Monteleone that you got a mandola (16.5 inch scale) from him. Being that I own one of his earlier Grand Artist ones I was wondering how you like it and what you play on it in terms of music.

A - Yes it's a new model Monteleone mandola. . It has the same shape of a Baby Grand mandolin but with some differences: dolphin holes, tailpiece and other features of the radio Flyer mandolin.

It's a wonderful instrument very playable and very well balanced all over the neck. It has a sweet tone and is very loud.

I play my own composition on that instrument. On my cd Il sogno di Icaro I did play more tunes with the mandola that with mandolin. Mandola its my favorite instruments and I like to do soon a recording with it.


Q - You asked which CD of yours I is Il Sogno Di Icaro......the one with the watercolors on the cover, an endorsement by Grisman & a photo of you with more hair! You write many of the compositions on this prolific are you as a composer of tunes?

A - I'm quite prolific but I'm very picky in choosing a tune. This year I wrote a lot of bluegrass instrumental and I'm thinking to do a bluegrass CD.


Q - I hear a Dawg music influence in some of your compositions. Were you aware of the David Grisman Quintet in the late 70's with their first album?

A - Yes I bought it in 1977 thinking it was a bluegrass CD. When I listen to it the first time I didn't like it. After 1 year I listen again and I became a big fan of David Grisman. I studied all his tunes and his solos.


Q - How tuned in to the New Acoustic music from the SF Bay Area were you?.... Did you know the other bands.....Tony Rice Unit, Tim Ware band etc.....there was a whole scene out here in Calif. around the "new" acoustic instrumental music, did the wave stretch out to you in Italy?

A - Yes. I remember that I especially liked the Tim Ware band. Mike Marshall and Darol Anger came in Italy very often after they left the DGQ, Several times also with Montreux Band.


Q - I see from you D'Addario biography that you are have four groups. Two related to bluegrass, one Celtic and one new acoustic group and many others I assume. Do you find your musical personality splintered or would you say that these all display facets of your ongoing growth?

A - I always liked to play different styles of music. I cannot live playing only bluegrass also if I love it. I fell the need to play something else. I'm a composer besides being a mandolinist and I need to play my music. Also I like very much improvising and traditional bluegrass has rules that you have to respect otherwise is not bluegrass. I would say that playing in different bands display facets of my ongoing growth.


Q - Who are some of your favorite mandolinists, bluegrass and otherwise?

A - There are a lot of others but this are the ones that I like the most.

Bill Monroe
Frank Wakefield
David Grisman
Buck White
Mike Compton
Ronnie Mc Coury
Butch Baldassari
Chris Thile
Dave Apollon


Q - What Italian mandolin method books (new or old) have you used or do you recommend? (i.e., Calace, Ranieri etc.).

A - I'm no more very familiar with classical mandolin method. I don't use them since many year. I remember the Calace method was very good and there was another one with several volume and all type of scale and arpeggios that I used a lot but at the moment I cannot remember the name. I'll figure out for you in the next days. Also I used several violin exercise method that can be adapted easily to mandolin.


Q - Perhaps you could elaborate on the various forms of mandolin music in Italy and other parts of Europe that be of interest to a more broader spectrum of mandolin players. There are many excellent recordings of mandolin in a variety of contexts that we don't know about or how to find them when we do hear them. Who are some of the artists from Europe, mandolinists or not, that would be of interest to us?

A - In Italy the mandolin is not so popular as in the States or other European country like Germany or Finland. It's used mainly for folk music and classical music. There are also some mandolin ensembles, but generally the interest in the mandolin is very low. In the last 20 years there was an improving interest from classical mandolin player to play baroque music with original instrument. There are a lot of kind of mandolins made earlier than the Neapolitan mandolin. Mandolino bresciano, genovese, fiorentino, milanese, colascione etc. Ugo Orlandi is a great expert and you can ask him when he will be guest on this list.

Concerning your question about artist in Europe I really don't know what suggest. There are many Finland bands that use mandolin. I like very much the last cd of Petri Hakkala. In Germany is full of classical recordings also of contemporary composer that write for mandolin, You can take a look at this site There a lot interesting cds and music for mandolin.


Q - It would be interesting If you could provide us with a list of recommended Euro web sites, and suggested recordings and where to find them. It would also be nice to know about places and live events that come up in Europe for those who are travelling or planning vacations so that they can include them into their plans in the future. Any rcommendations for us?

A - It would cost me too much work to look around and make a list of recommended Euro website. Depends which are your musical interest but I think everyone that is able to navigate in internet can find easily what is looking for.

If someone on the list will come to Italy and want an help in looking for something particular related to music please fell free to contact me.


Q - Also, it would be interesting to hear your comments on jazz, bebop, and blues influences on his own compositions. Your CD "Il Sogno di Icaro" demonstrate a wonderful collage of original ideas that span a large portion of these outside influences. What sources of music, both new and old, other than bluegrass, do you use and listen to for inspiration?

A - I don't know exactly. I started as a classical player but when I was young I listen very deeply to band like Gentle Giant, Yes, Van der Graf Generator, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd Led, Soft Machine and all the English rock of the 70s. Also in Italy there were a lot of interesting band. After I listen deeply to John Mac Laughing and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea and all that kind of stuff. When started to play bluegrass I still was listening to different kind of music like Pat Metheny, Windham Hill music and new age. I was also very involved with Django Reinhardt music since the end of the 70s.

In the last ten years I don't listen very much to music at home. I listen music in the car and only mandolin related music (mostly bluegrass) Also working in a classical music school I'm exposed to all the kind of classical music like electronic music and baroque music.

I think my music is potpourri of all the musical influences I had in all my life.


Q - Massimo, we have Ugo Orlandi coming up later as a CGOW. Can you give us some background on Ugo?

A - Ugo Orlandi is a dominant figure in the panorama of international mandolin music. He was born in Brescia and began his music studies at the Brescia Youth Music Education Centre. He took up the mandolin at a very early age and at the same time took his diploma in trumpet at the ³Cesare Pollini² Conservatory of Music in Padova, where since 1980 he has been mandolin professor. As a soloist he has taken part in concerts and tours all over the world < notably with Claudio Scimone¹s ³ I Solisti Veneti², and has performed in the most prestigious festivals in Europe and America. His interest in the rediscovery of the musical world of the mandolin has led him to record various programmes many of which feature as world premiere recordings.

He has been teaching mandolin at the Academy of Music ³C. Pollini² of Padua since 1980. Born in Brescia in 1958, he started his musical education at the Centro Giovanile Bresciano di Educazione Musicale of R: Messora and G. Ligasacchi playing the mandolin and the trumpet. In 1975 he started attending the mandolin course given by Giuseppe Anedda at the Academy of Music of Padua, where he also got the diploma in trumpet. His interest for the early music and the musicological research brought him to study the cornet and the natural trumpet, as well as to do research in the field of the historical repertoire for the mandolin. These interests in different areas of music have given birth to various recordings: ³I Guami da Lucca², Fonè; ³Musica da camera per strumenti a pizzico di R. Calace² (Chamber music for pluck instruments by R. Calace), Fonè; ³Itinerario artistico nella canzone popolare padana²- Piadena (³artistic tour in the popular songs of Pianura Padana² - Piadena), 6 Concerti per mandolino with the Solisti Aquilani, Koch-Schwann. He has been on tour with Claudio Scimone and the ³Solisti Veneti² all over the world: North America, Canada, South America (Venezuela, Argentina, Brasil), Europe, Asia ( China, Hong-Kong, Singapore, South Corea, Indonesia, Japan), India, Australia; he has taken part in the Festivals of Montreaux, Edinburgh, New York (³Mostly Mozart²), Paris (³Le Prestige de la Musique²) and Salzburg. With the ³Solisti Veneti² he has recorded two Cds for the ERATO containing Concerts by G.F.Giuliani, F.Lecce and the complete version of the Concerts for mandolin by A. Vivaldi.