Feature Photo by Andrea De Luca
ENZO ZIRILLI is considered one of the most versatile and creative Italian drummers of the last generation, having worked around the world along with great jazz, world music and pop artists such as Charlie Mariano, Steve Grossman, James Moody, Enrico Pieranunzi, Dado Moroni, Randy Brecker, Gloria Gaynor, Larry Schneider, Antonio Forcione, Marco Pereira, Gary Bartz, George Garzone and many others.
He was born in Turin in 1965 and started playing the drums at the age of 8 and studied piano at “G. Verdi” Music School of Turin. By then he had met the great Tenor saxophonist Larry Nocella and many other important musicians such as Franco Cerri, Benny Bailey, Hal Stein, Gianni Basso, Flavio Boltro, Antonio Faraò. This is when his career as a jazz percussionist and drummer flourished. He toured with Gloria Gaynor in 1991 and worked with the Italian pop-jazz singer Rossana Casale. At the same he performed at a number of important venues around the world. He set the melody and rhythm for artists such as Steve Grossman, James Moody, Robert Bonisolo, George Garzone, Randy Brecker, Dado Moroni, Enrico Pieranunzi, Franck Avitabile, Stefano Di Battista, Gary Bartz, Ira Coleman, Larry Schneider and many others.
In 2001 he formed a trio named “Scenario” arranging Beatles tunes for Organic Music. Amongst many other performances and participations, Enzo Zirilli played together with Antonio Forcione, recreating the sounds of African nature in the album “Touch Wood” Naim. In the space of 3 years he decided to move to London because of the ongoing and increasing number of scheduled gigs. He has become well-known and one of the most wanted artists in the UK. His style and drum-set technique have been influenced by and have influenced many exponents in the International Jazz world. From Jim Mullen to John Etheridge, Liane Carroll and Hamish Stuart, from Femi Temowo to John Parricelli, and more Alex Garnett, Brandon Allen, Quentin Collins, Ross Stanley.
His sensitive nature and passion for his Italy which has profoundly disappointed him provoked the need to give space to those themes represented by the old traditional Neapolitan tunes. He forms a duet called Neapolis, with the guitarist Nico Di Battista. Their first album “Neapolis” was released by the Italian label “Suoni del sud” (Rai Trade).
In the years 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, Enzo Zirilli was a Professor of percussion and drumset at the “Niccolo’ Paganini” Music School of Genova; in the year 2011/2012 he taught at the “G. Verdi” Music School of Torino and “Ghedini” Music School of Cuneo.
Photo by Costantino Idini
In 2013, the new album “Lifestories” is released. It is a jazz production involving four great musicians Enzo Zirilli, Jim Mullen, Dario Deidda and Julian Mazzariello and produced by Matteo Saggese, a famous Italian songwriter and producer.
This is the year I got to know Enzo and became an important person for me during my stay in London, because through him I fell in love with jazz and got inspired.
Enzo’s words in an interview about “Lifestories”:
Enzo Zirilli: The “Lifestories” project was born by an idea of Matteo Saggese, who I met here in London a few years ago. He is a songwriter, but he is also a dreamer and this is important in music. Matteo was the one who got us to play together, he was a mentor for Dario Deidda and Julian Mazzariello. I met him and Jim Mullen here in London. All of us moved to Buccino, near Salerno (Italy), hometown of Saggese, and in 4 days recorded the album. A CD containing 12 famous tunes arranged in jazz style.
Me: I adore the improvisations and new interpretations to the mix of pieces. These 12 tunes result in an original blend of sounds. There’s a tune composed by Ennio Morricone, Wayne Shorter, Sting and others. How did you come up with this selection?
Enzo Zirilli: We chose 3 songs each, our favourite ones which we never played before with any other group. So there is a lot of variety in this CD. It is a journey through emotions.
Me: How do you feel when you are playing?
Enzo Zirilli: It’s like being able to fly away finally, to detach myself from the ground, just like it happens in a dream. The percussion and drum set like music represent for me the dream that becomes reality.
Photo by Roberto Cifarelli
You can check Enzo's myspace here.