A warm, deep sensual voice, yet clear and confident: Mario Biondi, born Mario Ranno, patiently and carefully cultivated his musical passion starting from a tender age alongside his father: singer Stefano Biondi, in honour of whom Mario took on his stage name.
Many diverse experiences made Mario the great artist what he is today: from singing in church choirs to being session singer for niche labels, without neglecting his studies and learning the English language, being Sicilian from Catania, both by birth and by inclination. A lover soul music, in 1988 he began supporting artists of international standing, right up to the calibre of the legendary Ray Charles. But the turning came with the Japanese release of his single “This Is What You Are”, picked up and re-launched by top BBC1 DJ Norman Jay, who fell in love with the song featuring it and spreading it to the rest of Europe.
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In 2006 Schema Records published Mario’s first album, “Handful of Soul”: 12 tracks with new songs alongside interpretations of the classic repertoire, a well-crafted blend devoid of commonplace standards. Mario’s debut was immediately met with enthusiasm from the public and fellow musicians, gaining four platinum records in a few months. That same year Mario participated in “Alex – Tribute to Alex Baroni” contributing with the song “L’amore Ha Sempre Fame” (Love is Always Hungry).
2007 was a particularly intense year for Biondi, involving him in bigger projects like the Sanremo Festival where he competed performing a duet with Amalia Grè, “Amami Per Sempre” (Love Me Forever). Shortly afterwards he released the single “No matter”, in collaboration with DJ Fargetta. In the same year the double live album “I love You More” was released, in which Mario sang alongside the Duke Orkestra. This proved yet another success, winning 2 platinum records and included the ghost track “This Is What You Are”, one of the most loved pieces in the repertoire of the Catania-born artist.
2008 opened with a new, amusing prospect: the interpretation of two songs for the soundtrack of the re-make of that great Disney animation classic, The Aristocats: the songs “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” (“Everybody Wants to do Jazz”, in the Italian version) and “Thomas O’Malley” (“Romeo the Coliseum Cat” in Italian). This was also the year Mario participated in Italian prime-time TV programmes “Mai dire Martedì” with the Gialappa’s Band and – upon the invitation of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Burt Bacharach – in a new appearance at Sanremo Festival in a duet with Karima Ammar, singing “Come in ogni Ora” (As Every Hour). Mario also sang a duet with Renato Zero “Non Smetterei Più”, including “Presente” (Present), in the latest album of unreleased tracks published by the artist from Rome.
“If”, released in 2009, was the second album with previously unpublished pieces by Mario Biondi and inaugurated his collaboration with his new label, Tattica. The album, recorded in Rome and Rio de Janeiro was preannounced by the radio release of the single “Be Lonely”, a song aired for months on end by major national networks. The album was the fruit of an artistic project of international scale, with the precious contributions of the strings of the London Telefilmonic Orchestra and of some of the most affirmed international musicians: Herman Jackson (piano), Michael Baker (drums), Jacqués Morelenbaum (cello) Ricardo Silveira (guitar), Sonny Thompson (bass and guitar), Lorenzo Tucci (drums), Fabrizio Bosso (trumpet) and Giovanni Baglioni (guitar). In this work Biondi gives life to a warm and passionate soul-jazz, which he interprets with dashes of irony. The collaboration with Burt Bacharach, which had begun with the duet sang with Karima at the Sanremo Festival 09, gained depth and richness with a generous and precious gift from Bacharach to Mario: the song “Something That Was Beautiful”, also on the album. “If” thus consecrated Mario Biondi to public fame becoming a new commercial success, winning 3 platinum records. With its digital edition (distributed by Kiver / Tattica) it set a new permanence record on iTunes charts, remaining over 2 months among the 10 most sold albums on the most popular Italian digital music channel. The international fame of Biondi was also confirmed by his being one of the very first Italian artists to have a profile on Ping, the iTunes social network launched in September 2010. Soon to follow was a new prestigious collaboration, that with Bluey, leader of Incognito, who remixed “No’ Mo’ Trouble”, a track taken from “If”, at the top of the Italian airplay charts for the whole summer. Bluey, enthusiastic with their first collaboration, asked Mario to contribute to the record with which the historical band was to celebrate its 30 years of career. He performed two songs: a duet with Chaka Kahn and a solo piece (“Can’t Get Enough”), much praised by London radio stations.
Mario then returned to voiceovers and songs for animation films in autumn 2010, participating in the Disney film “Tangled”, in which he played the tender-hearted Hook-Hand Thug, and again in April 2011, becoming the Italian voice of the super-evil parrot Miguel in the film Rio. On 26th November 2010 the double live album “Yes, You” was released with Tattica, comprised of recordings of Biondi’s summer tour around the main Italian venues, all completely sold-out. On 21st May 2011, for his 40th birthday, Biondi inaugurated his new tour at the Gran Teatro di Roma, with his 40-piece Big Orchestra.
In November 2011 “Due (With the Unexpected Glimpses)” was released, a popular record on an international scale. “Due”, “two” in Italian, stands for the two artists interpreting each song. It’s an album of duets, “With the Unexpected Glimpses” being a metaphor of what one always has before one’s eyes and takes for granted. In this work, the ‘unexpected glimpses’ are the collaborations and musicians duetting with Mario in covers and original songs of their own, to which Biondi decided to dedicate the record.
For the whole of 2011 and 2012, Mario was touring Italy and abroad, taking part in several and prestigious Jazz festivals all over Europe.
After two years of work spent between Milan, Los Angeles, New York and London, on 29th January 2013 “Sun” will hit the high streets: a new album of high quality and international breadth, produced by Biondi with Jean Paul Maunick, alias Bluey, leader of the historical British jazz band Incognito and distributed by Sony Music.
|Daniele Scannapieco||Sax and Flute||www.mariobiondi.com|
|Tommaso Scannapieco||Bass and Uprightbass||www.mariobiondi.com|
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