Piero Piccioni's Lost Legacy Shines Bright on 'Volubile'

Piero Piccioni's Lost Legacy Shines Bright on 'Volubile'
In the world of Italian film music, Piero Piccioni has emerged as a truly legendary figure, with the maestro composing countless scores and more than a few classics over his many years. And while Piccioni may have shuffled off this mortal coil in 2004, the composer's vast vaults continue to surprise and amaze, as labels uncover and restore previously unheard gems. High among those in 2021 is now Volubile — a lost and now found early Piccioni work.

Originally captured in 1961,Volubile came for the Italian TV show of the same name, and the soundtrack stands as one of Piccioni's very first. But despite the early time stamp, Volubile already shows off some prime Piccioni, with many of his sonic calling cards already on full display.

For one, Volubile already features Piccioni working with his favourite vocalist Lydia MacDonald, who would go on to collaborate frequently with the composer. And like much of Piccioni's earlier work, his jazz chops — both crime and big band — are often front and centre, though Volubile also already finds him flirting with more exotic sounds, both from the Far East and those of more tropical origins.

But a bit surprisingly for a Piccioni release, Volubile is a very vocal effort. Not only does MacDonald appear frequently, but the soundtrack also features a series of notable Italian vocalist from the era, such as Bruno Martino, Jimmy Fontana and Little Tony. And while these voices make Volubile a unique and welcomed addition to Piccioni canon, it's still his arrangements that shine through to take centre stage, with Piccioni stepping forward with his most melodic side.  

In many ways, Volubile exists in a similar cabaret headspace as his preceding effort, 1959's Il Mondo Di Notte and, in a sense, Ennio Morricone's underrated '64 effort Musica Sul Velluto — an album that also featured the vocal prowess of Lydia MacDonald and Jimmy Fontana.

Add in some great remastering and curation at the hands of Camille 3000 — the label run by the late maestro's son, Jason Piccioni — and Volubile is a must for any self-respecting Piero Piccioni fan. It's just a real shame it took 60 years to finally get here. (Camille 3000)