R.I.P. Italian Music Innovator Amedeo Tommasi

The famed Chet Baker collaborator and soundtrack/library composer was 85

Photo courtesy of Sonor Music Edition

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Apr 15, 2021

Amedeo Tommasi — one of Italy's most prestigious jazz players and soundtrack/library composers — has died. News broke this week that the Chet Baker collaborator passed away on Wednesday (April 14) in Rome, where he both lived and worked as a music teacher. Tommasi was 85.

As a pianist, composer and arranger, Tommasi wore many hats during his many decades in music. Perhaps most loved work, though, is his classic 1970 giallo soundtrack Thomas — a record that was reissued in 2017 by Tommasi champions Sonor Music Editions.

Born in 1935, Tommasi first rose to fame as a jazz player and, in fact, became one of the most famed jazzmen Italy ever produced. After first studying classical piano at age 6, Tommasi began his career in jazz in the late 1950s. In 1960, his first major move came as Trio Tommasi and their album Zamboni 22 — a work that continues to stand as one of the most classic European jazz records ever.

Soon after, in 1961, he met the legendary Chet Baker, who then recruited Tommasi for his backing band. Both live and on 1962's Chet Is Back! album, Baker enlisted Tommasi's piano skills — something that would have a profound impact on the Italian player's musical career.

By the end of the 1960s, Tommasi began turning his attention towards film music and eventually he struck up a long collaborative partnership with Bolognese director Pupi Avati. It's with Avati that Tommasi would score the classic Thomas, which over the years went to serve as a stunning template for classic giallo soundtracking.

Also starting near the end of the '60s, Tommasi worked as a prolific library artist, composing such masterpieces as 1970's Zodiac, as well as 1973's Ittiologia alongside the famed Alessandro Alessandroni. Tomassi's library work also found him working alongside the likes of Stefano Torossi (of Feelings fame), Gerardo Iacoucci and Sandro Brugnolini.

As exhibited on Tommasi library albums like 1980's High Tension and the following year's Grandangolo, the composer also very much served as an early electronic music pioneer, with the composer exploring the realms of primitive synthesizers. This side of Tommasi also found him releasing the "underwater library" record Mare Romantico — an album also eventually reissued by Sonor Music Editions.

Outside his many albums, Tommasi also became a beloved music teacher, including at Rome's Saint Louis College of Music and Siena's Accademia Chigiana. Viewed as a loving and passionate teacher, Tommasi continued to teach up until his death.

Down below, you will find just a few of Tommasi's many career highlights, as well as a tribute post from Sonor.

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