After the breakup of IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO in 1973, keyboardist Gianni Leone pursued a solo career under the name of LEO NERO. This resulted in two albums: the progressive "Vero" in 1977, and synth-pop-oriented "Monitor" in 1980.
keyboardist extraordinaire and mastermind behind Il Balletto di
Bronzo's seminal 1972 work "Ys," Gianni Leone tried to pick up the
pieces after the band imploded following the success of "Ys" and the
resulting excesses. Intact for a short time as a duo, Leone and Balletto
drummer Gianchi Stringa played live a few times in 1973, with Leone
performing all the instrumental parts on his keyboards. This experience
laid the groundwork for his solo career, for which he changed his
moniker to Leo Nero.
Leone composed the songs for "Vero" in 1974,
and most of the tracks were recorded in New York in 1975. The album
wasn't released until 1977. As expected, the album is keyboard oriented,
and Leone plays all the instruments. Although the album is nowhere near
the magical frenetic contortions of "Ys," nevertheless this is a very
good album, one that should please fans of the genre. "Vero" is a
concept album, centered on the feelings of loneliness and fear that
Leone felt after the dissolution of Il Balletto di Bronzo. The entire
album is filled with a melodic melancholy that never quite lifts. The
compositions on the first half are in a more singer-songwriter style and
could almost be considered as multiple parts of a longer work; in fact,
several themes are repeated throughout the album. The second half is
the more progressive part, with songs such as "Tastieri Isteriche," "Il
Castello," "Una Gabbia Per Me," and "La Discesa Nel Cervello" that
hearken back at least in spirit to "Ys," although certainly not reaching
the same level.
After the release of "Vero," Leone veered in a
commercial synth-pop direction. His second album, 1980's "Monitor," is
frankly of little interest to progressive fans. (His backing band for
part of that album was called Optical Band, which gives the title to one
of the pieces he continues to perform, "Optical Surf Beat.") He
continued in this vein throughout the 1980s (as evidenced by some demos
which were recently released).
However, in the 1990s Leone
reentered the progressive scene, first by contributing to the wonderful
album by DIVAE (1995) and then by reforming Il Balletto di Bronzo
(himself being the only returning 1970s member, using the rhythm section
from Divae). The 1996 live album from the reformed Balletto entitled
"Trys" features not only the entire "Ys" album, but also several of the
best Leo Nero pieces as well, this time performed with the band. In
fact, the band continues today to play liberally from the Leone
repertoire, whether from Leo Nero or Il Balletto di Bronzo. Thus the
past and future of Leo Nero and Il Balletto di Bronzo are intertwined,
both with the genius of Gianni Leone at the center. - Leo Nero (Gianni Leone) / all instruments and voices
1. Scarpette Di Raso Blue (2:54)
2. Sono Stanco Anch'Io (3:54)
3. La Luce (3:36)
4. Tu Ti Ricorderai Di Me (4:21)
5. La Bambola Rotta (7:01)
6. Tastieri Isteriche (5:12)
7. Il Castello (5:16)
8. La Discesa Nel Cervello (4:07)
9. Rock'n'Roll Cat (0:53)
10. Una Gabbia Per Me (6:39)
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