In 2009 you published your book Il Saxofono about the history of the saxophone. Jean-Marie Londeix went so far as to say that “its quality surpasses that of any work published” until then, and the Zecchini publishing house brought out a new edition in 2016. What can you tell us about it?
This was an immense undertaking. When the editor sold 1,000 copies, we had to review the material and make some decisions. The book was very well-made with beautiful color pictures and very nice paper, but it was just too expensive to produce. The new edition is in black and white, and the quality of the paper is a little less, but it’s much cheaper for students looking to purchase it. I had to look at myself in the mirror to examine what I thought about all this. I put many different arguments, historical details, and pedagogical ideas in the book. The pedagogical chapters were inspired by Arnold Jacobs, principal tuba with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his pedagogical writings. I also wanted to include some chapters on jazz because, of course, this may indeed be the true voice of the saxophone. There is also a chapter dedicated to women who played saxophone. I have received many compliments on this work, but it was a long project that continues to evolve. I have now been asked to translate the book into English, which will take some time but will expand to a wider audience. I can also see a condensed version being produced eventually. You know, I am not naturally a writer, so I just put all my experiences down, but I think there could be room to trim the book down from being 700 pages long!
What projects do you currently have?
I would like to finish work on a project based on Gerry Mulligan because I met him at La Scala when I was young. I played in the Hindemith opera Cardillac, which has a big tenor saxophone solo. After performances, I always take time to reflect on things, so it came as a huge surprise when I met Gerry Mulligan outside the theater waiting for me after an hour! I didn’t realize it was him, but he asked me if I was the saxophone player. He said I played fantastically and that he loved my sound. It was such an honor to hear this from one of my heroes. After he died, his wife contacted me, and I am now a big promoter of his music. He was also a painter, and for this reason, with the Mulligan Foundation, I organized a personal exhibition of his paintings and music (Jazz, Symphonic, and Chamber Music) at the Liège Academy of Arts in Belgium. I would like to put together an album of his saxophone and chamber orchestra music that would include videos that display his paintings.
As I said before, Michael Nyman is writing a concerto for me with baroque violinist Enrico Onofri, one of the most important baroque violinists globally. I am waiting very excitedly for this concerto! I also have the theater piece based on Adolphe Sax, where I imagine him coming to the present and having a sort of interview scored for a saxophone orchestra. Other projects that I am working on right now are my trio All Directions (sax, piano, accordion), my duo with Achille Succi, and also the Indo Jazz Project that toured India. Last but not least, I would like to start playing football again soon; my true passion!