Tuesday, 30 April 2019

MAURIZIO FABRIZIO "AZZURRI ORIZZONTI" (1975)

Pettegolezzi di madri ai fioriti balconi d'estate
lontano i suoni di tristi canzoni, organetti stonati
Le biciclette sui muri lasciate, quando poi pioveva
e quell'odore di strade bagnate che nel cuore scendeva

Fuggire, fuggire
indietro tornare
di nuovo scoprire
gli azzurri orizzonti
svanire tra i monti
e perdersi, perdersi...

E le stagioni a rincorrersi come in un gioco infinito
giù nei cortili, su quei verdi prati, così sconfinati
dove i bambini ci lasciano i sogni e gli amori innocenti
e margherite di giugno vestite alla terra strappate

Fuggire, fuggire
indietro tornare
di nuovo scoprire
gli azzurri orizzonti
svanire tra i monti
e perdersi, perdersi...


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mothers' rumors on flowering balconies during summer
sounds of sad songs and off-key squeeze boxes in the distance
Our bycicles left on the walls as it started to rain
and that smell of wet streets soaked into our hearts

Running away, running away
going back in time
and discover again
the blue horizons
disappear behind the mountains
and get lost, get lost...

And the seasons chasing each other just like in an endless game
down in the courtyards, on those green meadows, so boundless
where children leave their dreams and innocent loves
and daisies dressed in June teared off the ground

Running away, running away
going back in time
and discover again
the blue horizons
disappear behind the mountains
and get lost, get lost...


[from the lyrics of "Azzurri orizzonti" / "Blue Horizons"]



Maurizio Fabrizio is an Italian composer and singer; he was born in Milan in 1952. During his career he has written songs for a lot of renowned Italian artists. He is one of the most represented authors at the Sanremo Music Festival, with more than thirty songs including two first places (with "Storie di tutti i giorni" for Riccardo Fogli in 1982, and "Sarà quel che sarà" for Tiziana Rivale in 1983) and three third places ("Strano il mio destino" for Giorgia in 1996, "Sempre" for Lisa in 1998 and "Schiavo d'amore" for Piero Mazzocchetti in 2007). He is also the author of several musicals and soundtracks.

Fabrizio began studying music at the age of 11 at the "Giuseppe Verdi" Conservatory in Milan. He received a classical education (piano, composition, percussion, bassoon and double bass), and combined it with a passion for the guitar. In the meantime, during those years he also played drums in a band. At the age of 17 he finished his experience at the conservatory, and around the same time one of his uncles introduced him to the music business.

In 1970 he formed the duo Maurizio & Fabrizio with his brother Salvatore - also known as Popi. That year they participated to the Mostra internazionale di musica leggera di Venezia, finishing in third place with "Come il vento". In 1971 they also participated to the Sanremo Music Festival with the song "Andata e ritorno" without much success. They released a total of three singles before disbanding later during the same year.

After this experience with his brother Popi - who soon embarked in a successful parallel career in the music industry as a producer and A&R executive - from 1972 Fabrizio began an intense activity as an arranger and author, often teaming up with lyricist Luigi Albertelli. Among the singers who recorded some of the songs he wrote in the early '70s we remember Donatello ("Malattia d'amore"), Anna Identici ("Il dirigibile"), Mia Martini ("Amanti", "Dove il cielo và a finire" and "Il viaggio"), Al Bano ("La canzone di Maria"), Patty Pravo ("Incontro") and Ornella Vanoni ("Uomo mio bambino mio").

Sometime in 1974, Fabrizio teamed up with lyricist Sergio Bardotti to work on "Azzurri orizzonti" - his debut album which is the subject of this post. The making of the record also involved his brother Salvatore, who co-wrote two songs, and - among the other participants - Dario Baldan Bembo. The album was released at the beginning of the following year on Come il vento, a small label distributed by RCA Italiana which borrowed its name from the title track of the first Maurizio & Fabrizio single released back in 1970.

During the second half of the '70s Fabrizio collaborated as music director and arranger on the best-selling albums by Angelo Branduardi ("La luna" in 1975, "Alla fiera dell'est" in 1976, "La pulce d'acqua" in 1977 and "Cogli la prima mela" in 1979). On these album he also played guitar, piano and several other instruments. Fabrizio was also part of the band who accompanied Branduardi during his concerts, and this fruitful collaboration has continued over the years to the present day.

In 1978 Fabrizio recorded his second solo album, a Progressive Rock inspired record entitled "Movimenti nel cielo" ("Movements In the Sky"). In this entirely instrumental work, symphonic scores blend with Rock music, especially in the longer tracks which are separated by shorter interludes fulfilled with strings and keyboards. Acoustic moments ("Episodio Lunare") and Funk-ish numbers ("Sputnik Suite") are also present among the grooves, as well as atmospheres reminding the early works of The Alan Parsons Project.



1979 saw Fabrizio getting busy with the recording of his third solo release, oddly entitled "Primo" ("First"). The ten compositions on this LP were written by him in solitude, including the lyrics to all the songs. The album was recorded in London and was co-produced by Furio Bozzetti, who had already worked with him on his debut LP "Azzurri orizzonti" a few years back. "Primo" was released by Polydor and includes the friendly participation of Angelo Branduardi and Dario Baldan Bembo.

During the same year, Fabrizio met Giancarlo Lucariello, producer and talent scout of Pooh, Alice and Gianni Togni, who commissioned him the arrangements for the then latest albums by Togni and Riccardo Fogli (a former member of Pooh).

In 1980 Fabrizio recorded his fourth album, which went to be his last solo effort for more than thirty years. Just like "Azzurri orizzonti", "Personaggi" was released by Come il vento, and at the time of writing it has never been reissued in any form. All the lyrics on this record are by Guido Morra, a lyricist with whom Fabrizio has often teamed up with during the years. Just like his previous releases, this album didn't climb the charts, and Fabrizio didn't seem to be able to conquer on his own the success he helped to create for other performers...

During the '80s his songs won the Sanremo Music Festival twice: "Storie di tutti i giorni", sung by Riccardo Fogli in 1982, and "Sarà quel che sarà", sung by Tiziana Rivale in 1983. "Grande grande amore", written with Stefano D'Orazio and sung by Lena Biolcati, won the New Proposals section of the festival in 1986.

More and more of his songs were recorded by many renowned artists year after year. These include "Vai Valentina" and "Musica Musica" by Ornella Vanoni (both in 1981), "Bravi ragazzi" by Miguel Bosé (1982), "Sola", "Romantici" and "Arriva arriva" by Viola Valentino (1982-83), "Acquarello" by Toquinho (1983), "Amore stella" by Donatella Rettore (1986), "Brividi", "Destino" and "A che servono gli Dei" by Rossana Casale (1986-1989), and "L'odore del mare" by Eduardo De Crescenzo (1987).

His activities as an arranger / conductor and producer are also worthy of note. Besides the already mentioned works by Angelo Branduardi, Gianni Togni and Riccardo Fogli, since the late '70s he had been credited on Franco Segre's "Canti della strada" (1978), Ewa Aulin's "Il walzer finì" (1979), Toquinho's "Acquarello" (1983) and "Bella la vita" (1984) and Matia Bazar's "Red Corner" (1989).

Surprisingly enough, in 1985 Fabrizio also wrote and produced an entire Italo-Disco album by a duo named New Glory. This release almost seems to be a family affair: all songs are co-written by his brother Salvatore and one half of the duo is none less than their younger brother Leonida Fabrizio! This is a record that I would really like to explore in a future post, uhm...


"Azzurri orizzonti" outer gatefold reconstruction

In 1989 Mia Martini participated to the Sanremo Music Festival with "Almeno tu nell'universo" ("At Least You In the Universe"), a number written by Fabrizio in 1974 along with Bruno Lauzi. The song had been waiting for many years before someone decided to perform it. As a matter of fact, it had been rejected at least by Ornella Vanoni, Mietta, Paola Turci and, in the beginning, also by Mia Martini herself...

The story goes that Fabrizio composed the music on the guitar in the kitchen, the room that featured the best acoustical environment of his house. On such occasion he found a melody that immediately seemed very particular, and a few days later Lauzi wrote the lyrics in half an hour. "Almeno tu nell'universo" is the song that made possible the artistic rebirth of Mia Martini; it quickly became a great commercial success and is now widely considered one of the best Italian songs of all times. Fabrizio really has many merits, but he could easily go down in history even just for this song. If it doesn't give you goosebumps, chances are that you're not of this Earth!

During the '90s Fabrizio strenuously continued to compose - always keeping quite a very high profile - for many Italian performers. Among the many songs he wrote we'd like to remember: "Niente" for Mietta (included in the album "Canzoni", winner of six platinum records in 1990), "Bisognerebbe non pensare che a te" for Caterina Caselli (1990), "L'ultimo dei re", once again for Mietta (1992), "È la mia vita" for Al Bano (1996), "Strano il mio destino" for Giorgia (winner of third place at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1996) and "Sempre" for Lisa (once again winner of third place at Sanremo in 1998). For Lisa, as well as being an author, he also produced her first two albums ("Lisa", in 1998, and "L'essenziale" in 1999) which climbed the sales charts in France and Spain.

In 1995 Renato Zero recorded a number that deserves a special mention here: "I migliori anni della nostra vita" ("The Best Years of Our Lives"). The song has become an evergreen of Italian music both for its artistic solidity and for the reference to the personal and collective history it evokes. Its importance is so relevant that it also went to become the title and the soundtrack of the almost homonymous TV show conducted by Carlo Conti, "I migliori anni" ("The Best Years") about songs that belong to the memory of Italian people.

The song had been born several years earlier from an idea of the author of the lyrics, Guido Morra, who had got his inspiration from a 1946 American drama film which was precisely called "The Best Years of Our Lives". Fabrizio composed the music of the refrain with that title in mind and then passed it to Morra who wrote the verses and sent them back to him. This long-distance collaboration between the authors gave birth to the song which was initially proposed to Giorgia, who refused it.

As strange as it may appear, the piece remained unused for a long time - also rejected by several other producers and performers (including Ornella Vanoni) - until it ended up in the hands of Fabrizio Intra, Columbia managing director for Sony Music Italy, who immediately understood its potential and proposed it to Renato Zero. This song is another good reason why Maurizio Fabrizio will go down in history.


"Azzurri orizzonti" inner gatefold reconstruction

At the beginning of the new millenium Fabrizio has written two musicals: "Il grande campione" starring Massimo Ranieri in 2000, and "Rodolfo Valentino" starring Raffaele Paganini in 2002.

As usual, during the early '00s Fabrizio has composed many successful songs: "Tutti gli zeri del mondo" for the duet of Renato Zero and Mina (2000), "Alla luce del sole" for Josh Groban's debut album (2000, about 6 million copies sold worldwide), "Che fantastica storia è la vita" for Antonello Venditti (2003), "Un'emozione per sempre" for Eros Ramazzotti (2003) and "Che mistero è l'amore" for Nicky Nicolai, which won first prize in the Groups section at the Sanremo Music Festival in 2005. He was also involved in the launch of young artists such as Senit (2007), and Linda (for whom he wrote the single "Pasolini scrive" in 2008).

In 2008 he composed the music for three songs ("Anima nell'anima", "La libertà" and "Madre") with lyrics taken from Karol Wojtyła's poems, which were recorded by Plácido Domingo for his album "Amore infinito".

In September 2011, more than thirty years after the last record entitled to his name, Fabrizio finally released "Bella la vita" ("Beautiful Life"), a work made in collaboration with his wife, the actress Katia Astarita. The album features Fabrizio singing some of the most famous numbers he composed during his careeer, with minimalistic arrangements (classical guitar and piano, played by Fabrizio himself), and the help of Gigi Cappellotto on bass and Ellade Bandini on drums.

From 2013 Fabrizio returned to perform live as a singer in the show "L'arte dell'incontro" ("The Art of Meeting"), once again in collaboration with his wife Katia. The show gave birth to the album of the same name, which is available as a digital release only, and features nineteen pieces taken from his immense catalougue of songs originally brought to success by major Italian artists.

In the most recent years, Fabrizio has collaborated again with Angelo Branduardi, playing guitar for him both in studio and live in concert. He also renewed his collaboration with Renato Zero writing music for several songs included in his latest albums.

In October 2018 Fabrizio released a digital EP entitled "4 pezzi facili" ("Four Easy Pieces"). This new work includes four songs much loved by the author - who composed them many years earlier for important Italian performers, including Rossana Casale, Riccardo Fogli and Renato Zero - which were not much successful. Fabrizio reinterprets them with a minimalist touch, accompaning himself on the piano with a string orchestra.


"Azzurri orizzonti" contains the following tracks:

01. Azzurri orizzonti [Blue Horizons] (4:28)
02. Storia di qualcuno [Story of Somebody] (3:25)
03. Se non avessi Giulia [If I Didn't Have Julie] (3:48)
04. Wendy [Wendy] (3:39)
05. Mexico Mexico [Mexico Mexico] (2:46)
06. Angela D. [Angela D.] (5:45)
07. Campesino [Campesino] (3:09)
08. Piccola canzone [Tiny Song] (2:46)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in April 2019 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.


Maurizio Fabrizio, circa late 1974

Here's the complete credits and personnel list of the album:

Arranged by Maurizio Fabrizio.

Produced by Sergio Bardotti and Furio Bozzetti.

Strings arrangements on "Azzurri orizzonti", "Storia di qualcuno", "Angela D." and "Piccola canzone" by Gianfranco Lombardi.

Strings arrangement on "Wendy" by Piero Pintucci.

Guitars: Maurizio Fabrizio, Popy Fabrizio and Massimo Luca
Bass: Gigi Cappellotto
Drums and percussion: Andrea Surdi and Furio Bozzetti
Keyboards: Dario Baldan Bembo
Backing vocals: Maurizio Fabrizio, Popy Fabrizio, Dario Baldan Bembo and Furio Bozzetti

Production assistant: Michela Bardotti
Editions: Come il vento / RCA Musica

Recorded at RCA Studio D, Rome, and Fonit Cetra Studio, Milan.
Sound engineers: Rodolfo Grappa and Plinio Chiesa
Sound recordists: Stefano Taccaliti and Giancarlo Iametti
Mixed by Rodolfo Grappa.

As noted by Maurizio Fabrizio and Sergio Bardotti: «Gisella Fusi sang a wonderful vocal solo on "Wendy". Our musical choice was to not include it on the album, but we like to remember it anyway.»



As clearly marked on the center labels, "Azzurri orizzonti" was released by Come il vento, a small label distributed by RCA Italiana - in January 1975 with catalogue number ZSCVE 55743. The album comes in a sober gatefold sleeve which is laminated on the outside. The front and back feature a very simple painting, probably made with an airbush, that somehow reminds me of an even more minimalistic version of the best works by Mark Rothko: light blue turns to beige, and that's it. As is often the case, there is no credit for the artwork... The same goes with the big Maurizio Fabrizio picture that entirely occupies the inner gatefold, and we're only allowed to know the name of the printing plant, which is almost hidden in the lower right corner and gives us another confirmation of the album release date: Printed in Italy - Grafiche Boccadoro - 1/75.

It looks like "Azzurri orizzonti" was also released in Argentina by Music Hall with cat. number 13.133., but the pertinent Discogs entry doesn't make it clear if the album passed the promotional stage and really went into production.

My first encounter with this album almost happened by chance... Some years ago I purchased a copy of one of those budget box-sets in the "Progressive Italia - Gli Anni '70" series, just to be able to finally listen to Francesco Messina's "Medio Occidente" opus. Obviously, once the box was opened, that was the first CD I listened, and althought I was dissatisfied with the lack of the complete artwork, lyrics, liner notes, etc., I couldn't help to appreciate the audio mastering work that has gone into that release; the audio was probably sourced from the original master tapes and the quality is very good.

The second CD I listened to was "Azzurri orizzonti" and what a nice surprise it was! The great goodness of the compositions and arrangements immediately caught my ear, but during a second and more accurate listening session I realized that something was wrong, very wrong. The CD had been mastered from a vinyl copy of the album and it looks like whoever did the job didn't care much about it or, at least, had a bad day. Mastering from a vinyl source is fine of course, if the original tapes are not available anymore that's the only way... And by the way, 90% of what I offer on this blog is mastered from vinyl records. The problem lies in the fact that the source seems to be a battered copy of the original LP and very little has been made to restore it. If that was not enough, somehow the devil had a finger in the pie and the songs are also filled with digital errors that don't belong to the original rip/recording. Sometimes I really wonder who is in charge of the quality control... How can such a bad mastering job be approved and released?

Nowadays "Azzurri orizzonti" is available as a digital download on the usual stores that I'm sure you all know... Well, as I was preparing this post I took the time to check the previews and all of them, on every platform, seem to originate from the same master that was pressed on CD. Frankly, I'm speechless, this album is a small masterpiece and surely deserved to be treated fairier that this. Far from being perfect, I believe that my remastering finally brings justice to it anyway.



Side 1 opens with the album title track, which was written by Maurizio Fabrizio along with his brother Salvatore. The lyrics of "Azzurri orizzonti" ("Blue Horizons") deal with memories and childhood - a recurrent theme on the album - and the music perfectly matches such topics enhancing the powerful nostalgia effect, also courtesy of the strings arrangement by Gianfranco Lombardi and the various acoustic guitar parts. This song was also released as a single.

"Storia di qualcuno" ("Story of Somebody"), the first of six songs in a row (...or five, please see the note about "Campesino" on Side 2...) written by Fabrizio and Italian lyricist Sergio Bardotti that appear on the album, is a delicate number whose lyrics deal with childhood (...again...) and school memories: somebody attends lessons and is bored by the many notions given to him and gets more and more distracted, imagining fictious situations to escape boredom,... However, the burden of the future is about to weight on his shoulders when he will have to face real life. The different sections in the lyrics are supported by changes in music that aptly reflect them and the strings arrangement of Gianfranco Lombardi is poignant, to say the least.

"Se non avessi Giulia" ("If I Didn't Have Julie") is a way less dramatic tune with cheerful lyrics about the girlfriend of the protagonist who seems to be his one and only purveyor of wellness and the only reason why his life has taken a positive turn. The guitars in this song have a Country touch that clearly evokes rural music from overseas in the same way as in the two albums recorded by Italian duo Loy & Altomare just a few years earlier. This piece was also used as the flipside on the "Azzurri orizzonti" 7" single.

The first half of the album closes with "Wendy", an almost formal number whose minimalistic structure let Fabrizio's voice be the leading actor with Piero Pintucci' strings arrangement emerging in the second and final part. I must admit that I'm a little bit puzzled about the lyrics, which seems to be centered about a past relationship with an enigmatic woman who, in the end, decided to move on with someone else...


Maurizio Fabrizio, circa 2014

Side 2 starts with "Mexico Mexico", a lighthearted number whose music is clearly inspired by the Mexican tradition. The song features an uncredited trumpet player who steals the scene and ends up playing the lead. Unlike the more serious tracks on the album, the lyrics almost seem a divertissement that puts together one cliché after another: an expatriate fantasizes about sex and leisure with two gorgeous and easy Mexican women, but he has to take into account the reaction of a wife that, according to the lyrics, we imagine as beefy as possible...

"Angela D." is the longest track on the album, and also one of my favourites. The song starts with a persuasive simple groove that anticipate, matches and enhance the clever lyrics. This number is all about a very attractive and promiscuous woman, who is best described with an acronym that has entered the common lexicon during the recent years and is widely used - at least here in Italy, possibly because most of the people don't know the exact meaning: MILF. The young man speaking in the verses declares that "...for a boy living in a small town she was just like California ... She was two times a woman, the University... ". Musically, the song is divided in two distinct parts: halfway through it the rhythm stops and gives way to a section that introduces a dreamy strings arrangement, which then gives rise to a Moog synthesizer solo before returning to the original structure, adding a two-voiced verse just before the fade-out.

Geographically speaking, "Campesino" pairs up with "Mexico Mexico", but offers a completely different atmosphere. This short and melancholic number describes the simple and tough life of a poor Latin American farm worker who is somehow envied by a mysterious stranger whose story is not disclosed, but only hinted to as something that might - or not - refer to a European fugitive... The song is credited to Sergio Bardotti and Maurizio Fabrizio on the back cover, but on the center label for Side 2 it is credited to Bardotti and Salvatore Fabrizio... As a matter of fact, Salvatore recorded his own version as Popi Fabrizio, and it was released in 1977 as the flipside to the "Malattia d'amore" 7" single. On such record, the song is credited to him and Bardotti, so I'm inclined to believe that the credit Maurizio received on the back cover of "Azzurri orizzonti" is just a typo... Anyway, I left it untouched in my reconstruction of the original gatefold cover artwork.

The album ends with "Piccola canzone" ("Tiny Song"), its most delicate and intimate piece. Just like the opening number, this short song is credited to Fabrizio and his brother Salvatore. The music is mostly executed on acoustic and electric guitars with an heart breaking strings arrangement by Gianfranco Lombardi. The lyrics are nothing but a fragile - and passionate at the same time - declaration of love set to music.

As a last note: as far as I know "Azzurri orizzonti" was not successful at the time of its release, but it is rich of elegant musical ideas and fully soaked with poetry to the bone. In my opinion this is the best album that Maurizio Fabrizio has ever made, I truly hope you will appreciate.


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered album, enjoy!


















More information about Maurizio Fabrizio and "Azzurri orizzonti" is available here:

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurizio_Fabrizio

http://www.mauriziofabrizio.it/biografia.php

https://www.discogs.com/artist/274694-Maurizio-Fabrizio

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvatore_Fabrizio

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurizio_%26_Fabrizio

https://faremusic.it/2016/10/12/intervista-e-breve-racconto-di-un-incontro-fantastico-maurizio-fabrizio/

https://recensiamomusica.com/maurizio-fabrizio-ogni-canzone-ha-il-suo-destino-intervista/

http://www.soundreef.com/blog/intervista_maurizio_fabrizio/

http://www.europamici.com/Discografia.html

http://www.studiomusica.net/artista/maurizio-fabrizio-

http://verso-la-stratosfera.blogspot.com/2018/04/maurizio-fabrizio-1975-azzurri.html

https://www.discogs.com/Maurizio-Fabrizio-Azzurri-Orizzonti/master/723997

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Il_Vento


If you have any other useful information about Maurizio Fabrizio and "Azzurri orizzonti" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

4 comments:

  1. DOWNLOAD LINK

    https://mega.nz/#!wAM...

    If you download this file please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know if the link is broken and I'll do my best to quickly fix it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This album is a rare gem! Thank you so much for uploading and exposing me to this fantastic record.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kev, you're welcome, thanks for your comment. The music on this album is great, hope you can also understand the Italian lyrics!

      Delete
  3. Wow! a really rare gem and an excellent work of you, as usual! Mille grazie da uno che è cresciuto, tra le tante cose, con i primi album di Baldan Bembo.

    ReplyDelete

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