Marcello Allulli and his bet for the future: the Music Inn
The Music Inn in Rome is a truly historic venue, a landmark of Italian jazz music culture: that`s where, in the `70s, important musicians such as Enrico Rava, Enrico Pierannunzi, Fabrizio Sferra, Roberto Gatto, Danilo Rea, Rita Marcotulli, Enzo Pietropaoli and others used to get together and play and sometimes share entire periods of their lives. After the original owner Pepito Pignatelli and his wife died, the activity of the Music Inn stopped abruptly, and with it a part of the trend was lost. Recently, after major renovations, it opened again and it has already hosted a series of interesting happenings. A few days ago, we had a talk with its current artistic director, avant garde sax player Marcello Allulli.
Marcello, please tell us a little more about this great venue: besides the “local” talents, who played at Music Inn? And what made it special?
Especially in the `70s, huge talents of the caliber of Ornette Coleman, Charlie Mingus, Elvin Jones, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and more used to hang out and play at the Music Inn, whenever they were in Rome. I think it was a unique kind of opportunity for this city to have a space like this, where people could go see such great artists play this close for a reasonable price…
That sounds great! So, in April 2011, you guys decided to re-open Music Inn with a few changes: what can we expect now?
Well, the whole world around it has changed!… First of all, after 20 years, the interior has been completely renovated; also, based on its past legacy, we are offering a contemporary blend of international and local artists in order to promote the exchange of ideas and creativity. For instance, a while ago we had a great evening with pianist Shai Maestro (from Israel), drummer Israel Varela (from Mexico) and bassist Alfredo Paixao (from Brazil), but soon we`ll host up and coming Italian talents such as Francesco Poeti, Caterina Palazzi, Federica Zanmarchi, Paolo Recchia, as well as established ones, such as trumpet player Aldo Bassi, Fabrizio Sferra, Fulvio Sigurtà and others.
One thing I really like about the Music Inn is its location, which is really Roman! I love this dual identity, so international and yet so local…
You are correct: the club is located in Largo dei Fiorentini 3, in a beautiful spot in the very historical center of Rome, close to Trastevere and other landmarks like Piazza Navona and Castel Sant`Angelo, so it really has a special appeal, being so international and so typically Roman at the same time! As you know, when it comes to this Rome is quite unique: it is a big city and the national capital, but it still manages to retain a strong local flavor…
Right, and its interior design reflects this dualism as well…
Of course: its architectural structure is typically Roman, and basically it has been carved underground, so you would think of a cave kind of vibe, but its current lighting and furnishing make it “white” and “light” instead. The works took more than six months, and really gave the place a new life.
The restaurant section also has a double appeal: it offers a very contemporary approach to Italian cuisine, which can be appreciated by Romans and tourists as well.
While talking about the concepts behind this place, I really want to mention at least a few of the people who contributed to the current results: Elio Casalino, who is also the artist who made all the paintings on the walls, Lorenzo Cuomo, Maurizio Sartori and Andrea Leofreddi, who is the one who originally contacted me while they were organizing the re-opening, and who unfortunately is no longer with us.
In light of this “new life” you just mentioned, are you guys thinking of using Music Inn for something different than in the past?
Actually yes: besides music, the venue has already started hosting other forms of art events, such as figurative arts and dancing. Our ultimate goal is to create happenings which can favor cultural and artistic exchanges, at all levels.
Marcello, I heard your latest CD release, called Hermanos, and I loved it: in what way does this relate to the Music Inn?
In a very fun and lucky way: the basic line-up is a trio (myself on saxophone, Ermanno Baron on drums and Francesco Diodati on electric guitar). We played here a couple of times and presented the album. I am really proud to offer bookings from a musician`s standpoint since I believe it is important to have a solid connection between myself and the world of musicians I`m trying to promote!