Interview: Bassist Piero Montanari on Making Ulysses (1995) with Stefano Torossi and His Classic 70s Library Tracks on Scoctopus (1997) and Flipper Psychout (2010)
The6thdimension.com is pleased to offer an exclusive conversation with bassist-composer Piero Montanari, another of the talented musical collaborators who have worked with composer, arranger, and producer Stefano Torossi. Piero Montanari has been making music for film soundtracks and pop albums since the mid-1960s. He’s also a highly regarded jazz musician who has played with Chet Baker, Tullio De Piscopo, Roberto Gatto, Cicci Santucci, Tony Scott, Toots Thielemans, and Massimo Urbani, among others. Additionally, Montanari was in a trio with another important Stefano Torossi musical collaborator, Amedeo Tommasi, and has played in major groups in Italy and abroad.
In 1995, Piero Montanari and Stefano Torossi made Ulysses: A Traveller Through Time and Space. The music of Piero Montanari and Stefano Torossi has appeared on at least four ExtraBall Records’ compilations in 2013 as well Primrose Music’s including 20th Century A History No. 1 (1999), 1970s Pop Maniacs (1999), and several more albums. In the early 1970s, Montanari and Roberto Conrado composed and performed some classic library music on a pair of albums, Climax (1973) and Bass Modulations (1973). Many of these tracks are now found on the excellent Flipper Psychout: Original Italian Library Music From The Vaults Of Flipper (2010) and Scoctopus: The In Sound from Octopus Records! (1997) library music compilations.
6D: How did you first meet Stefano Torossi?
PM: I met Stefano at a television post-production company in Rome, the SBP, in 1990.
6D: Was the Ulysses album in the mid-90s the first time you and Stefano Torossi worked together?
PM: Yes, Ulysses was the first album in which we collaborated. And we immediately became friends. In fact, we were well aware of one another but we had never worked together professionally up to that point.
6D: Whose idea was it to make Ulysses?
PM: The idea came from the director of Flipper, Romano Di Bari. The album possesses a “depth” intended to be both spiritual as well as physical: the sea, outer space, but also the soul. For me, the CD is full of music that comes from the soul. Stefano came up with the idea of a man traveling through these elements, so who better than Ulysses?
6D: Could you share a few details about how you the two of you work together?
PM: I worked on the project, then Stefano came in at a later stage and did the adjustments.
6D: Besides composing with Stefano, you also played bass on this album, correct? Any other instruments?
PM: I played all the bass and keyboards. I also dealt with all of the programming of the computer, which was an Atari 1040 ST, an archaic tool now, but back then it could be used for all the keyboards and the synthesizer rather than loading samples on the computer, which is how it’s often done these days.
6D: Who were some of the other musicians that joined you?
PM: I played everything myself.
6D: Which songs are your favorite on Ulysses? Why?
PM: I love “Celtic Ballad,” which is the most successful song of the album, perhaps because it sounds like an old song by Enya.
An auto-generated video for Piero Montanari’s “Celtic Ballad” is on YouTube (in most regions):
Next, I would choose “Mother Nature” for the serenity and peacefulness it creates for the listener [“Mother Nature” also appears on Peace of Mind: Ambient & New Age Relaxing Soundspheres (2013) from ExtraBall Records].
A third song I really like is “Steps on the Moon,” which has a beautiful melodic line. It’s very inspiring.
6D: Besides the 2009 album, have you worked with Stefano Torossi on any other projects or is there anything in the works?
PM: No, that was our last project and we don’t currently have any plans to work together but our friendship is always very strong. In Italy, many things have changed and instrumental music, which serves mainly to complement images, is no longer produced as much, especially in CD. For example, Flipper continues to go strong but even they only release MP3 downloads, no more physical CDs. However, we continue to make music for films and TV.
An auto-generated video for Piero Montanari’s “Mother Nature,” produced by Stefano Torossi, is on YouTube (in most regions):
6D: One of my favorite recent CD purchases, which I only learned of about 6 months ago, is Flipper Psychout: Original Italian Library Music From The Vaults Of Flipper. For fans of the library music genre, this is gold.
Could you share anything about the three tracks you did with Roberto Conrado, “Save Up,” “Ready Money,” and “Likewise.” Were all three tracks originally composed for the same project? Was it a movie?
PM: No, they were tracks for a project over 40 years ago we proposed to Romano Di Bari, who at that time had just begun his working career. It was around 1972-1973 and the plan was to establish a library of vinyl disks (LPs) to be used by RAI for Italian radio and television on news reports and documentaries.
Piero Montanari and Roberto Conrado’s “Likewise” and “Save Up” is on YouTube:
6D: “Frog In Love, another collaboration with Roberto Conrado, originally appeared on Climax (1973) as well as the outstanding compilation, Scoctopus: The In Sound from Octopus Records! Can you provide any details about that very unique, memorable track?
PM: It’s one of the tracks we enjoyed making the most. At that time in Europe, a song that called “Ping Pong” had great success, especially in clubs and dance halls. It was one of the first songs made with a Moog synthesizer. We tried to make a song with a similar feel but it did not get the promotion it deserved!
Roberto Conrado and Piero Montanari’s “Frog In Love” is on YouTube:
Piero Montanari and Roberto Conrado also recorded Bass Modulations (1973) for Octopus Records, with Antonino Scuderi. This classic album has recently been reissued and like their Climax album is now available as a digital download.
6D: When did you and Danilo Mosetti record “Masked Superheroes” Can you provide any details about that composition?
PM: We made the album between 2011 and 2012. “Masked Superheroes” is one of the most interesting songs, it really conjures a feeling of being at the cinema …
6D: How many musicians were involved in making the Movie Superheroes album?
PM: We made all the arrangements with the library of sounds, obtaining 10 or 20 giga orchestras of strings, woodwinds, pianos, etc. Then we went to my studio in Rome near the Colosseum, 24 Gradi, to record some real violins, a quartet of them, to create a sound more akin to an authentic orchestra.
The secret of many musicians today is to mix them together, real instruments with sampled orchestra music or virtual instruments.
A video by Didi Frank for Piero Montanari and Danilo Mosetti’s “Masked Superheroes” is on YouTube:
Flippermusic, the parent of Deneb Records, also made a video for Piero Montanari and Danilo Mosetti “Aliens” that is currently found on Vimeo:
Before doing soundtracks for Italian horror movies like Umberto Lenzi’s La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse) in 1988 and Ritorno dalla morte (Frankenstein 2000) in 1991, Piero Montanari composed original music for classic Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy short films between 1984 and 1985.
6D: How did this project develop? Were you already a fan of “Stanlio and Ollio” beforehand?
PM: In 1984-1985, RAI asked me to do the music for a 13-episode program on the life of Laurel and Hardy. I loved the pair as a child, so this request filled me with joy and pride. As part of this project, RAI Italian TV also asked me to compose the music on all their silent movies of the 1920s and 1930s, a combination of shorts and feature films. It was the most interesting work of my life–and the reruns with my music still appear on television today! A double CD with all the music and effects from the Stenlio and Ollio soundtracks was also released. [A remaster of the original 1985 soundtrack was released in 2010.]
A selection of full versions of Laurel and Hardy comedies from the late 1920s and early 1930s featuring the music of Piero Montanari is here:
6D: Are there any projects coming up that you could discuss?
PM: I’m doing another horror music album for Flippermusic with Danilo Mosetti. I also working on some music documentaries for RAI.
Piero Montanari Sampler on YouTube
A compilation of music and videos from Piero Montanari is on YouTube:
- Piero Montanari & Danilo Mosetti “Action Soldiers” vid by Didi Franks for Movie Superheroes 2012
- Roberto Conrado & Piero Montanari “Glaze” from Climax 1973
- Piero Montanari Dream Sequence from Ritorno dalla morte (Frankenstein 2000) 1991
- Piero Montanari “Death Arising” from La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse) 1999
- Piero Montanari untitled track from La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse) 1999
- Piero Montanari et al. – Toto Remix from Toto Rap 1993
- Piero Montanari & Stefano Torossi “Mother Nature” from Ulysses 1995
- Piero Montanari & Stefano Torossi “Celtic Ballad” from Ulysses 1995
- Roberto Conrado & Piero Montanari “Quoin” from Climax 1973
- Piero Montanari & Danilo Mosetti “Masked Superheroes” 2012 vid by Did Franks for Movie Superheroes 2012
- Pino Daniele “Liberta” from Liberta 1976
- Piero Montanari opening theme from I predatori delle antille 1999
- Roberto Conrado & Piero Montanari “Likewise” from Bass Modulations 1973
- Piero Montanari “Laurel & Hardy Home Movies” ~1985
- Roberto Conrado & Piero Montanari “Frog in Love” from Climax 1973
A selection of albums and ten of the 25+ compilations with music by Piero Montanari that are currently available.
Piero Montanari & Danilo Mosetti – Movie Superheroes: Orchestral, Soundtrack, Fantasy (2012) Deneb Records [Italy] DNB 750 Download
Piero Montanari & Stefano Torossi – Ulysses: A Traveller Through Time and Space (1995) Primrose Music [Italy] PRCD 085 Download
Piero Montanari – La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse) / Ritorno dalla morte (Frankenstein 2000) (1999) soundtracks Beat Records Company [Italy] CDCR 49 [includes the soundtrack for Director Umberto Lenzi’s La Casa 3 – Ghosthouse (1988) and Joe D’Amato’s Frankenstein 2000 (1991) CD
Piero Montanari – Stanlio & Ollio: Due teste senza cervello (2010 remaster) (1985) soundtrack 2-CD
Roberto Conrado, Piero Montanari & Antonio Scuderi – Bass Modulations (1973) (Reissue 2010 by Flippermusic) Octopus [Italy] OCTP 0291 LP & Download
Flipper Psychout: Original Italian Library Music From The Vaults Of Flipper (2010) compilation Vampi Soul [Spain] VAMPI 125 [includes Piero Montanari’s “Save Up” and two collaborations with Roberto Conrado, “Save Up” and “Likewise”] CD & Download
Mediterranean Flavours: World Music, Travel, Documentary (2012) compilation Deneb Record [Italy] [includes Piero Montanari’s “Ichnussa,” “Streets of Beirut,” “Land of Volcano,” “Tetide Sea,” “Bosphorus Bar,” “Bay of the Sun,” “Gibraltar,” “Medina,” “Gulf of Naples,” and” Taranta Dance”] Download
Psyche Funk Italia: Library Nuggets From The 60’s and 70’s (2010) compilation Flippermusic [including Piero Montanaris “Slums,” “Lupin,” and two with Roberto Conrado, “”High Slope” and “Pool”] Download
Italian Bossa: Cocktail Music From the 60’s and 70s (2010) compilation Flippermusic [including Piero Montanari’s “Charlie’s Bounce” and “Bellboy” Download
Italian Library Breaks (2010) compilation Flippermusic [Italy] [including Piero Montanri’s “Lupin” and “Acquascutum,” and two collaborations with Roberto Conrado, “Frog In Love” and “High Slope” Download
1970s Pop Maniacs (1999) compilation Primrose Music [Italy] PRCD 115 [including Piero Montanari’s “Lupin,” “Tiptoe,” “Saigon Night,” “Spiderwalk,” “Sleazy Bar,” “Slums, “”Charlie’s Bounce,” “Aquascutum,” “Watergate Dance,” “Gambler,” and “Bellboy”] Download
Delirium (2009) compilation Primrose Music [Italy] PRCD 132 [including “Sliding Scale”, “Glitter,” “Glaze,” “Frog In Love,” “Pool,” Pow-wow,” “Sampler,” Quoin,” and “Maze,” all with Roberto Conrado] Download
Scoctopus: The In Sound from Octopus Records! (1997) compilation Schema [Italy] SCEB 901 [includes Piero Montanari’s “Frog In Love” and two tracks with Roberto Conrado, “Cobeweb” and “Save Up” CD
Quella Villa Accanto Al Cimitero / Manhattan Baby / La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse) (1997) compilation Lucertola Media [Germany] LMCD 009 [includes Piero Montanari’s “M1,” “M26,” “M44,” and “M8” from the La Casa 3 – Ghosthouse (1988) soundtrack] CD
Piero Montanari – Totò Rap (1993) single RCA [Italy] 7432-18109-1 45
Climax (1973) (Reissue 2010 by Flippermusic) Octopus [Italy] OCTP 0290 LP & Download
More Music from Piero Montanari on SoundCloud
An audio online compilation includes four tracks from Roberto Conrado and Piero Montanari, the original version of “Zoo Sound,” “Properly,” “Likewise,” “Frog In Love,” and “Only You” from Montanari’s soundtrack for the film Undici giorni undici notti: