Nino Taranto and Marino Marini: live experimental and theatrical music

Who were the protagonists of Italian music of the 1950s besides Renato Carosone? Searching in the music of the Dolce Vita we discovered affinities with two other contemporary artists: also experimenters, they united the Neapolitan tradition with musical styles that came from the rest of the world. Let’s take a little trip into the past to better understand that era through their magnificent songs that have come down to us.

Nino Taranto, comedian, singer and actor

Few artists have managed to combine comedy with great art. Nino Taranto, an essential post-war figure in Italy, was one of them. His sketch “Ciccio Formaggio”, in which he represented a man mistreated by his girlfriend, reached levels of popularity not seen in Petrolini’s “Salamini“. His 1946 song “Dove sta Zazà” has become a national cultural heritage; the same can be said of his participations alongside Totò in many historical films such as “Totòtruffa 62” and “Il monaco di Monza”.

Nino Taranto has ranged from theater to radio to television, thanks to his skills as a multi-faceted interpreter and skilful use of the voice. We at Los Carosones were surprised in particular by the immense musical production during the 1950s.
His music also acts as a bridge between the Neapolitan culture and the sounds that came from North America; “Donna rosa”, for example, is a song that could easily have come out of Renato Carosone’s pen. What distinguishes Nino Taranto, however, was the ability to interpret the characters of the songs overcoming the boundary between singer and “fine speaker” (a theatrical figure of the early 1900s who declaimed, often in an exasperated and ironic way, the text of a song in the form of poetry or prose).

Irony is another inevitable ingredient in the boundless production of this artist. Thinking of songs like “‘’A stufa elettrica“, where he rhymes the sound of a sneeze, or “Pasquale’ a disgrazia“, which turns into a rite against bad luck, is always a reason for a smile. In our research we found a little gem that binds Renato Carosone to Nino Taranto in a double thread: in the song “‘E ccummarelle“, Taranto uses the same technique as Carosone for the effect of the choirs; in fact, high-pitched and accelerated voices are perceived at twice the speed of reproduction of magnetic tapes. A real Carosonian trademark (you can find it, for example in “E la barca tornó sola”).
Like Los Carosones, we wanted to pay homage to the connection between these two legendary artists in the video of the song “Caravan Petrol”. We mixed the images of our concert at the Rathaus in Vienna with the film of the same name, in which both were present: Nino Taranto as the protagonist and Carosone and his band with a splendid cameo.

Marino Marini, Carosone’s alter ego

One of the brightest stars in the firmament of 1950s Italian music was that of Marino Marini, whose path mirrors that of Carosone. Pianist, arranger and singer, he too was a great popularizer in Italy of the rhythms and harmonies that came from the world. He too cuts his teeth abroad before playing in Italy, but while the “l’americano from Naples” leaves for East Africa, Marini performs at New York’s Greenwich. There he meets jazz pioneers such as Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton. Back in Italy he becomes a night club star and starts recording his own versions of the hit songs of the moment. It has a huge success in Italy and abroad: in France and Spain (where its fame even exceeds that of Carosone), but also in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Russia and even in Japan.

He was an artist who liked to experiment with the technologies of the time: his workhorse “Oho aha”, for example, is one of the first classics with echo applied to the voice.
Together with the quartet Marino Marini he was able to transform performances into theatrical pieces, as demonstrated by the live version of “Pullecenella” for Brazilian television. His version of “Chella lá” was the best-selling Italian record in Italy in 1957; he had a vocal interlude of Arabic voices that Carosone would resume a year later in his “Caravan Petrol”.

In the repertoire of Los Carosones, a reference to this extraordinary artist could not be missing; we decided to pay homage to him by taking up his arrangement of “Io sono il vento“, another song that marked the era of the Dolce Vita.