Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Manzecchi, Franco (Gian)

Manzecchi, Franco (Gian), drummer; b. Ravenna, Italy, Sept.10,1931; d. Konstanz, Germany, March 25, 1979. The name of his father was Primo Manzecchi. His mother's name was Prima Zini (Manzecchi).

Fourteen year old Franco started to play as a self-taught drummer in the band of his six year older brother Gino who played trumpet and initiated Franco to hear the first overseas discs from the American soldiers in and after 2nd world war: Louis Armstrong, Harry James, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway, Tommy Dorsey, etc. He discovered the music of Charlie Parker in 1949 and went in the same year to Bologna; played professionaly in dance orchestras, stayed there for six years, worked then for one year in Vienna (Austria) with Friedrich Gulda and Fatty Feorge and took the travel through Switzerland to Paris (France) in early '57. Then began his career as one of the most in-demand drummers of the French capital. He spent the first two years as a New Orleans and swing drummer who had the opportunity to accompany Tony Scott, Mezz Mezzrow, Allan Eager, Don Byas, Albert Nicholas, Nelson Williams, Pony Poindexter, Peanuts Holland, Michel Hausser and Bill Coleman who took him on tour through Portugal. Also did Friedrich Gulda with whom he had still contact. Went with Rene Franc to Germany and Michel Tysblatt to Algier (Africa). Then he went under the apprenticeship of bop drummer Kenny Clarke, then living in Paris, who gave Franco the possibility to work with Bud Powell and top-bassist Pierre Michelot at the legendary "Blue Note" for two weeks. Worked then in the trio of organ player Lou Bennett with Jimmy Gourley on guitar in the "Blue Note" again which led to a tour in Germany, performed with Guy Lafitte, Sonny Grey, Jay Jay Johnson, Sonny Criss, Kenny Drew, Lucky Thompson and Quincy Jones, came along with french starpianist Jack Dieval in 1961 with whom he toured extensively through whole Europe and middle-east and featured guest stars like Eric Dolphy with Donald Byrd and Nathan Davis, Art Simmons & Jimmy Woode, Sonny Stitt, Albert Mangelsdorff and Dionne Warwick the following five years. But also worked meanwhile with Chet Baker in Paris and Belgium, Johnny Griffin, Michel Hausser again, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Dizzy Reece, Charles Tolliver, Woody Shaw & Larry Young, Percy Heath & Milt Jackson (TV), Sahib Shihab, Eddy Louiss, Rene Urtreger, Martial Solal, Rene Thomas, Stephane Grappelli, the "Alvin Alley Ballet" and the "Swingle Singers". In 1966 he became member of the trio of blind Tenor saxophonist and flutist Michel Roques (along with Benoit Charvet on bass), one of the most appreciated progressive ensembles in France with whom he played major Festivals in Paris, Antibes, Bilzen and Montreux in the following seven years, still founding time to play with Hank Mobley, Rhoda Scott, Joe Henderson, Herb Geller, Benny Golson, Freddie Redd, Dexter Gordon, Slide Hampton, Hal Singer, Lee Konitz, Hampton Hawes, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Mal Waldron, Memphis Slim in Marocco (Africa) in 1965, once again with Lou Bennett featuring Philip Catherine on guitar at the Prague Jazz Festival and some days later with Stuff Smith and Jan Hammer at the Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw (Poland) in 1966 and in the Montreux-Festival band in 1969 under the leadership of Clark Terry and Ernie Wilkins with the best European jazz musicians. Played then in the 70s a lot in Italy again with Lou Bennet, J. Griffin again and mainly in festivals in Italy with Marian McPartland, Teddy Wilson, Ted Curson, Barney Kessel, Art Farmer, Bobby Jones, Byard Lancaster and Horace Parlan. In 1975 Franco went on a six week tour to West Africa with french group "The Swingers" led by trombone player Francois "Frick" Guin, performed at the Pescara Jazz Festival in Italy with Chet Baker featuring Jack Walrath and Pat LaBarbera and played again with Dexter Gordon & Rene Urtreger in Paris, moved then with his german wife Mimi and 1969 born son Patrick to Konstanz (Germany) at the end of 1976 after having been operated at the heart--Patrick is now a drummer as well. Franco became the honorary member of the Jazzclub Konstanz in 1978. Played occasionally in Paris with organ player Patrice Galas and guitarist Marc Fosset with whom he featured Johnny Griffin once again in early 1979 and gave a con cert in Paris with alto saxophonist Chris Woods a few days before he died in Konstanz. The drummer Elvin Jones gave a memorial concert at the Jazzfest Willisau three days later.

Andre Reweliotty: A.R. et son orchestre jouent des inedits de Sidney Bechet (1959); Bill Coleman: Bill Coleman (1960); Guy Lafitte: G.L. jazz sextet (1962); Jack Dieval: Relaxez vous avec J.D. et son quartette (1966); Chet Baker Quintet: Brussels 1964 (1992); Eric Dolphy: Naima (1964); Jack Dieval: Ambiance pour deux pianos (1964); LP
Andre Hodeir: Anna Livia Plurabelle (1966); Stuff Smith: Warsaw Jazz Jamboree (1966);  Michel Roques: Dedicace (1966); En avant la zizique (w/ Michel Roques Trio) (1968); Eraldo Volonte: Free and loose (1968); Michel Roques Trio: Safari (1968); Bill Coleman: (1969); Mal Waldron: Ursula (1969); Clark Terry International Festival Band: At the Montreux Jazz Festival (1969); Michel Roques: Chorus (1971); Jean Bonal: Guitare Jazz (1974); The fabulous Pescara Jam Sessions 1970-1975 (w/ Chet Baker, 1975) (1991); Patrice Galas/Marc Fosset/Franco Manzecchi: Organ (1978)

Radio broadcasts:  
 Countlesss live radio performances with: Jack Dieval, Michel Roques, Chris Woods, Chet Baker, Eric Dolphy w/ Donald Byrd etc.
Live interview on "Radio France" dec. 16, 1976

Television broadcasts:
TV-performances with Lou Bennett (1964 & 1966), Michel Roques (Montreux Jazz Festival 1969), Richard Anthony, Milt Jackson & Percy Heath (1965), "The Swingers" etc.

Numerous reviews & interviews in newspapers & magazines
Arrigo Zoli, "Storia del Jazz moderno italiano I musicisti", Azi Edizioni, Roma 1983
Gisela Albus, "A story in Jazz the life of Nathan Davis", Munich 1991
Andre Francis, "Jazz", Solfeges, France 1977
Bill Coleman, "Trumpet story", Editions Cana, Paris 1981


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