Romano Mussolini,Jazz pianist, son of Dictator Dead at 78

by Ron Sagye La Rue

Romano Mussolini Jazz pianist and son of World War ll Italian fascist dictator Benito, died Friday(Feb.3). Jazz was banned in Italy but his Jazz loving brothers were able to purchase American albums. That is how Mussolini first heard Jazz. After his dictator father was killed other members of his family were either killed or well fled Italy.

Young Mussolini his mother and sister were exicled to Ischia. While there he became seriously ill and eventually took up piano and accordion as hobbies. Though self-taught his early playing style was similar to George Shearing. Later moving closer to Andre Previn's piano stylings. He performed at the first International Jazz Festival in San Remo in 1956. He was quite impressive, notheless he turned down many opportunities to perform abroad. He eventually returned from exile, to Rome living in almost abject poverty. Working in the wood-trade to make a ends meet.

Musicians such as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton Dizzy Gillespie and Chet Baker noticed his talent. In 1959 he played with Swedish, Baritone Saxist Lars Gullin at Viareggio. Mussolini also toured Italy with Gullin and Chet Baker. And he made records for Italian RCA with vocalist Lilian Terry and Nunzio Rotondo. "Jazz Allo Studio 7" his early 1960s album drew much positive attention from the critics. Twenty years ago he played at Perrino's in Los Angeles, a ritzy Italian restaurant. More recently Mussolini wrote a book about his father "My Father Il Duce" to be published by Kales Press later this year. He is survived by his wife Carla Maria and three daughters. His first two are from his first wife Anna Maria, who is the sister of well-know actress Sophia Loren.

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