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Romano Mussolini

Talented jazz musician and the last surviving child of Italy's fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. Though never actively involved in politics, he made an important contribution to a process that is subtly altering Italians' view of their recent past and transforming his father's image from that of an irascible despot into a benevolent, if occasionally misguided, patriarch.

Ironically, had the fascist regime survived, Romano would have had the greatest difficulty pursuing his chosen career. Jazz, with its roots in black culture, was censured - and censored - by his father's government. American musicians were given Italian names so they could be shoehorned into the country's nationalist outlook. Louis Armstrong, for instance, first became known to Italians as Luigi Fortebraccio.

He learned to play piano and accordion while recovering from a childhood illness. He first heard jazz music through some albums that his older brothers had bought, and he grew to love the American art form. By the early 1950s he had developed a style similar to George Shearing’s eloquent approach to the piano, although he later assimilated some of André Previn’s classically inspired sophistication.

In 1956 Mussolini performed at the first San Remo International Jazz Festival, where he garnered much acclaim and offers to tour. He declined all comers, preferring to stay at home with his family and, perhaps, fearing retribution for his father’s actions. He ended up destitute in Rome, working as a carpenter between sporadic musical jobs, many done under an assumed name in the Naples region.

He wrote jazz record reviews for several publications as well. But it wasn’t long before the jazz world began taking more notice of Mussolini. Among his supporters in the late 1950s were Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, singer Lillian Terry, Swedish baritonist Lars Gullin, and Chet Baker, who became a close friend and frequent musical associate. Mussolini’s first wife, Anna Maria Scicolone, was the sister of actress Sophia Loren and bore him two daughters.

In 1956 Mussolini’s trio recorded his self-titled debut for RCA. Trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti was an early partner. In 1963 the Romano Mussolini All-Stars recorded "Jazz Allo Studio 7" (Ricordi), which earned widespread acclaim. This time he did not hesitate to accept the offers of tour packages, and his name was spread further around Europe. The album was followed by "Romano Mussolini All-Stars at the Santa Tecla" (Philips) later that year.

In the 1980s and 90s Mussolini recorded "The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong" (Ca’Bianca Club), the "Perfect Alibi" soundtrack and "Soft and Swing" (Carosello), the last title an ideal description of his approach to jazz piano.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Latin Taste

Unknown label


Music Blues

Dreyfus Jazz


Trio E All Stars

Dreyfus Jazz


At The Santa Tecla

Dreyfus Jazz




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