Arti & Mestieri, most commonly known as arti&mestieri or Arti e Mestieri, is an Italian progressive rock, jazz rock, fusion group formed in 1974.
They are considered as one of the most important historic Italian bands in progressive and jazz rock of the blooming 1970s Italian progressive rock scene, enables the execution of a unique, original, intense and delicate sound, in which jazz, progressive rock and Mediterranean sounds blend together to create a language of great expressiveness and communication, which are internationally acclaimed as one of the best Italian historic group still active in the world.
The original core members of Arti & Mestieri were Gigi Venegoni (guitars), Furio Chirico (drums, percussions), Giovanni Vigliar (violin, vocal), Arturo Vitale (sax, flute), Marco Gallesi (bass), Beppe Crovella (keybords).
They came together in the early seventies, while Gigi Venegoni, Giovanni Vigliar, Arturo Vitale, Marco Gallesi were playing in the band called "Il Sogno Di Archimede" when the members of Il Sogno Di Archimede met Furio Chirico from the Italian English progressive rock group The Trip, at that time Chirico made a great success already as a drummer of The Trip, ‘Atlantide’ on RCA Records. Chirico came to see Il Sogno Di Archimede and enthused their sound, decided together on forming a band.
Chirico helped the band acquaint with Franco Mamone, who was a well known as the manager and the promoter in the Italian music industries.
Mamone listened to the demo tape featuring the acoustic version of songs Gravita 9.81and Strips
which recorded experimentally by Venegoni and Vigliar.
Mamone who discovered the original and unique sound of the group, suggested them to form immediately the new band. Shortly, Beppe Crovella, an organist of I Mistici joined and its origin in the band formation was completed.
The band simply called themselves ‘Arti’, named by Raffaello Palma, a sound engineer and the graphic creative, with his immagination of the band formation from the Vitruvian Man of
Leonardo Da Vinci.
In the seventies in Italy, there was an avant-garde record label called Cramps Records, managed by Gianni Sassi who is the creative for the graphic arts and full of the great intellectual.
Through the label Cramps, Sassi published the contemporary classical music and experimental music of some artists like John Cage, and for prog and jazz rock Area of Demetrio Stratos.
Sassi listened to the demo tape of Arti from Mamone and found very interesting in their sound formation, and proposed to produce their album
Sassi was very careful to social problems and so attentive to the European culture, decided to name the band ‘Arti & Mestieri’, interpreting the band’s musical performance quality as taking the ideas from the European medieval corporations ‘Arti e Mestieri’ (means ‘Arts & Artisans’ in English), to which Paris has dedicated also a metro station ‘Arts & Métiers’.
Arti & Mestieri began their career thanks to the support of two key figures of that period: Franco Mamone as the manager and the promoter and Gianni Sassi (the founder of Cramps Records as well as the record producer). Ahead in 1974, arti&mestieri performed at the Parco Lambro Festival in Milan in range of youth proletarian Festival (June 14 -16) and, later on, in tour with Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) and Area. The concert of arti&mestieri in front of a 45,000 people audience was a success, leading as well positive reviews from critics.
During 1974, the band released “Tilt (immagini per un orecchio)” from Cramps Records, produced by the band’s guitarist Gigi Venegoni and Paolo Tofani of Area, composed by Gigi Venegoni, the band’s drummer Furio Chirico and the keyboardist Beppe Crovella. “Tilt” was praised as one of the first examples of musical styles, united with classic rock, progressive rock, jazz rock and fusion, the band’s original sound were highly appreciated. In the meanwhile, arti&mestieri held an Italian tour with Gentle Giant.
In 1975, the band expanded a limit of their musical interpretation based on the participation of Gianfranco Gaza as a full-time singer and that allowed Giovanni Vigliar to devote himself exclusively to the violin. With this formation arti&mestieri produced “Giro Di Valzer Per Domani”, the band’s sound became well-matured, growing more fusion while maintaining their musical feature of jazz rock.
After a tour with Area, Manticore label of Emerson Lake & Palmer got in touch with arti&mestieri, but without reaching an agreement with Mamone consequently the contract with Matnicore were unconcluded, shortly Gigi Venegoni and Marco Gallesi left the band, to form another goups, Venegoni & Co. and Esagono. Nevertheless, arti&mestieri toured through southern Italy with Gigi Fregapane on bass, yet without guitarist in the formation.
Four years later of 1979, the band got back to the front with Quinto Stato, that took its shape from a project by Furio Chirico and Marco Gallesi.
The album talks about the former social problems and issues of dissatisfaction among youth, as "Quinto Stato" means, in fact, the social exclusion and the impossibility of being inserted into a fellowship that has no more rules about 'values', if not those of the prevarication and quarrels at every level.
Very hard music and lyrics distinguish this production from previous two releases, work which, although not at the level of the previous, resulted as a convincing album. It is worth to quote the presence of Marco Cimino on keyboards, of Zauber and Errata Corrige, and a Flavio Boltro on trumpet, while Venegoni appeared in a single song, recorded before his leaving the band.
In 1983, after more four years in silence arti&mestieri reappeared in a completely revolutional form featuring Furio Chirico (drums and percussions), Antonino Salerno (keyboards), Umberto Mari(bass), Luigi Tessarollo (guitars), Guido Scategni (wi) and Sirio Merlo (sax), with the album Acquario directed by Furio Chirico.
The sound production was entirely instrumental, fully jazz rock essence with frequent pure jazz interplays.
Two years later Children's Blues was followed, it was again an instrumental album, emphasized more genuine jazz. At that time, the band’s formation was changed and featuring Chirico, Salerno and Mari but this time with Mario Petracca (guitars), Claudio Bonade’ (sax), Gigi Mucciolo (tromba, flugelhorn) and Johnny Capriuolo (trombone).
During 1990, arti&mestieri formed again with five original members: Furio Chirico on drums, Gigi Venegoni on guitars, Beppe Crovella on keyboards, Marco Gallesi on bass, Arturo Vitale on sax, and Marco Cimino on keyboards. After a few concerts together, Arturo Vitale left the band and a new violinist Corrado Trabuio entered.
In 2000, arti&mestieri released Murales from Electromantic Music label, the sound became more closed to progressive rock.
In 2001, arti&mestieri released Articollezione, it was a compilation album of collection of previous unreleased tracks of the band’s early period, full of vocal melodies. Later in 2003, a double CD Live 1974/2000 came out.
In 2002, Marco Gallesi left his place and Roberto Cassetta (who played in tour with Carl Palmer, Ian Pace, and worked with Don Airey, Steve Morse) joined in on bass and vocal, then an italian guitarist Slep (who worked with Mr Heckstall Smith and De Gregori in Germany and USA) entered the band, as replacing Gigi Venegoni. These two changes was their turning point, carrying the band’s sound towards more arti&mestieri origins with a real progressive rock oriented, more stronger and became accomplish as a band ever.
In 2003, with Cassetta on bass and vocal, and Slep on guitar, arti&mestieri tirelessly performed concerts in Italy and participated at Prog Day festival in USA. In the following year, the band released the live album Prog Day and Extractions in 2004.
On March 2004, with Marco Roagna replaced Slep on guitar, and Warren Dale on soprano as a guest saxophonist sax.
in 2005 arti&mestieri performed at Baja Prog festival in Mexicali Mexico.
Saxophonist Alfredo Ponissi officially joined the band after Baja Prog, at this time the line-up feartured a new vocalist, Iano Nicolo’ (singer of “Cantina Sociale”). In the same year of June, arti&mestieri held two concerts for their first time to Japan. The audio of that live performance was recorded and then published as a CD entitled First Live in Japan by Disc Union in Japan, by MoonJune Records in USA and Electromantic Music in Italy.
In 2006, Lautaro Acosta, one of the most promising young italian violinists, joined officially in the band, and arti&mestieri participated again as one of the festival headliners at Baja Prog festival in Mexico.
In the summer of 2006, arti&mestieri performed at In Progress One… festival in Sardinia Italy.
In 2008 in Verona Italy, arti& mestieri performed at Verona Prog Fest with two special big star guests from the English progressive rock scene: the violinist David Cross of King Crimson and the saxophonist David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator. In the same year Roberto Cassetta was replaced by Roberto Puggioni, a successful session bass player who performed with various prestigious artists.
In the mid 2009, EP containing one instrumental track and three vocal tracks entitled Il Grande Belzoni were released. It was a very progressive rock-oriented, lyrics by an Italian journalist Marco Zatterin inspired by the life of Giovanni Belzoni, an actual being Italian explorer who started his career as a ‘strong man’ in a circus then became an archaelogist and finally a well-known egyptologist.
In the first half of 2010 to 2013 arti&mestieri took part in the five major progressive rock festivals in Italy, Japan and Europe: the Prog'sud in Marseilles France in 2010, Traffic festival in Turin Italy of July, 2 Days Prog festival in Italy of September featuring the two international guests from King Crimson: Mel Collins on sax and David Cross on violin, Italian Progressive Rock Festival in 2011 in Japan, and Gouveia Art Rock festival in 2013 in Portugal.
In 2011, Gigi Venegoni permanently returned to the band, as well as with Marco Roagna also on guitars, arti&mestieri made their second return to Japan on the 5th of November for their live performance at Italian Progressive Rock Festival Vol.I at the historical live concert hall ClubCitta’ in Kawasaki Japan.
From 2013 to 2014, arti&mestieri was committed to the creation of a new studio recorded concept album, Universi Paralleli, which celebrated the fortieth anniversary of their birth and payed tribute to ‘Tilt’. Universi Paralleli was first published in Japan in June 2015 by the historic major label King Records, and has been called the best Italian progressive-rock album. The album was released in Italy in September 2015 and distributed by Sony Music Entertainment Italy. It is the first Sony release under the historic Cramps Records label.
In July 2015, arti&mestiri participated in THE BEST OF ITALIAN ROCK, again at the concert hall ClubCitta’, with over three exceptional hours of live show spanning the band’s history. On that occasion the entire performance was recorded for the "Live In Japan THE BEST OF ITALIAN ROCK" series. The concert was performed by a total of ten musicians including the four original historical members, Furio Chirico, Gigi Venegoni, Beppe Crovella and Arturo Vitale, as well as special guest: Mel Collins of King Crimson.
The performance included original arrangements of the historical masterpieces Tilt (1974) and Giro Di Valzer For Domani (1975), Universi Paralleli (2015), pieces taken from Murales (2000) and a piece from [Red] by King Crimson In addition to the full live recording and a live recording of the vocal version of "Gravita '9.81"
with original text and sung by Lino Vairetti of Osanna, at the Moncarielli Jazz Festival in 2015 in Italy, the complete recording features
all tracks in two Blu-spec CDs and one DVD, as the deluxe box set of
arti&mestieri "Live In Japan THE BEST OF ITALIAN ROCK" which was published at the end of 2017 by the historic major-label King Records Japan.
It was described worldwide by critics as one of the best live performances of a historical group still active in the world.