Tag Archives: Piero Umiliani

La Legge Dei Gangsters



Piero Umiliani was and still is  a firm favourite of many soundtrack collectors. However, he also reached a wider audience via his connections and compositions within the world of jazz music for which, if the truth be known, he will be remembered for most. La Legge Dei Gangsters is one of those rare soundtracks when a composer utilises some wonderful jazz moments and fuses these with dramatic and romantic musical layers, creating a sound that not only enhances and enriches the images on screen, but also has the ability to stand away from those images and be an entertaining collection of themes on there own. Other composers that seem to be able to get the balance right when combining these styles are Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones and also Sid Ramin on his highly charged score for Stiletto. Umiliani, is probably better known for his quirky Ma Nah Ma Nah track, that was so popular during the 1960s, but there is certainly nothing similar to that composition within the score for THE LEAGUE OF GANGSTERS.

The music contained on this disc is quite a hard hitting work, but also contains some quieter more melodic moments that are well written and superbly orchestrated. Umiliani combines lush strings with sensitively placed Hammond organ and wistful sounding woodwind in certain cues, but on the jazz side of things he provides us with an accomplished and pure sound (‘Pure’, being the composer’s name for jazz music). The trumpet work in particular should be mentioned, it is fast, precise and flawlessly executed, although this might not be to everyone’s taste, it nevertheless works extremely well. Highlight tracks include, ‘Crepuscolo Sul Marie’, ‘La Legge Dei Gangsters’, ‘Very Fast’, ‘Tema Del Ad Dio’ and ‘Epilogo’.
As with all Easy Tempo releases the disc is sumptuously packaged with eye catching artwork and a sleeve that opens into a poster of the movie, which includes information about the film the music and the composer. I personally am not a big jazz fan, but in this case I will make an exception as Umiliani certainly gets the balance right on this, definitely worth a listen. It is a pity that Easy Tempo are no longer around and some of their releases have gone forever.



The first time I heard any music from this movie was when I purchased the CAM LP entitled, THE WEST 1, the song THEY CALLED HIM DJANGO by John Balfour was a featured track on the compilation alongside a number of rare Spaghetti musical gems, like THE PRICE OF GOLD by Don Powell. I always wondered why the full score had not been issued and after seeing the movie itself on cable about a year ago I was even more astounded that this one had not been picked up for release by the likes of Digit movies and Hillside. Well my prayers have been answered and here it is in full stereo courtesy of Hillside. This is a great score by Maestro Umiliani, it contains all of those wonderful musical fingerprints that we associate with the Italian western. Racing percussion, electric guitars, strummed Spanish guitars, deep and echoing bass, castanets, soaring trumpet solos, choir, the obligatory saloon track a strong and haunting theme and a catchy title song, but also present is the inimitable stylization of Piero Umiliani. I wont bore you with individual track analysis but will make a selection of a handful that are deserving of special mention, Track 6, LIBERO E SELVAGGIO, is a delight, an easy going work for guitar which is punctuated by bass, the opening leads into a low key almost downbeat version of the scores central theme, but livens up and from nowhere bursts into a great little guitar piece with a riff that is as memorable as Giombini’s quirky SABATA theme and rivals Nicolai,s INDIO BLACK guitar theme. Track 7 is the song from the movie, performed by John Balfour, it is a laid back vocal, but a solid one with lyrics that make sense, which is sometimes not always the case with songs from Italian produced westerns, however this edit is slightly different from the version I heard many years ago, but that recording of the vocal is repeated at the end of the disc. Track 20 CAVALCATA also has similarities to Giombini,s SABATA as it begins in a very similar way to his second version of the theme from that score, but this soon melts away and is overtaken by a crazy sounding pair of trumpets that mirror each other in a jazzy sounding upbeat composition exhilarating stuff. All I can really say about this score is that I know it will be an instant hit with collectors, and also a compact disc that will be given regular plays. It is presented well with striking art work on both front and back covers, plus a nice touch inside with a picture of the CAM West 1 compilation LP cover, and a number of stills from the movie. The sound on this one is just perfect I cannot fault the work that has gone into re-mastering this as it is as clear as crystal. I love the style and the look of the Hillside productions, they always have eye arresting covers and are wonderfully illustrated within, the work carried out is obviously that of a fellow enthusiast and collector, the care and attention on each new release certainly shows. For this we have Claudio Fuiano to thank, as we all know Claudio has more or less devoted his life to being involved with the release of rare and sought after Italian film music, and for this we must say a big thank you. Another highly recommended Hillside production.


Originally released way back in 1972 on LP, this Piero Umiliani score is more akin to the style normally employed by Italian composers such as Morricone and Nicolai. It has all the hallmarks of an Italian mini classic. The movie directed by Italian filmmaker Mario Bava, is a thriller-sex-espionage caper involving more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, it also contains a number of impressive looking ladies. Piero Umiliani employs a variety of themes that are jazz orientated as well as symphonic. He manages to merge the two very different styles successfully creating an interestingly original work. The use of choir is particularly interesting and effective, and the composer even manages to parody his own well known composition ‘Ma, Nah, Ma, Nah’ a couple of times. The distinct and impeccable whistling of Alessandro Alessandroni, is just one of the features of this excellent soundtrack that also contains, harpsichord, strings, saxophone, percussion and big band brass all of which go to make up a worthwhile and enjoyable listening experience.5_bambole_mdf343
I would say that 5 Bambole Per La Luna D’Agosto is one of the composer’s more attractive and also abundantly infectious  film scores. It also has the ability to stand on its own away from the movie as an entertaining work and one which I think is comparable with the music of Morricone on Love Circle and Bruno Nicolai on The Insatiables, both of which are highly regarded amongst collectors of Italian film music. Umiliani also employs the Sitar in a very unusual way, at times backed by a bossa nova beat and jazzy hammond organ, add to this the excellent choral work provided by Il Cantori Moderni and what we have is a great soundtrack.
This CD release also contains no less than seven extra cues that did not appear on the original vinyl issue, and Cinevox have very wisely put all of these cues at the end of the CD. I cannot recommend this soundtrack enough; it is typical Italian movie music from the 1970s but still manages to stand out above the more conventional music that was being produced outside of Italy during this period. Packaged well, with tributes to the composer included within the liner notes. A worthwhile addition to any collection and, for the uninitiated, a perfect way of getting to know the colours and musical flavours of Piero Umiliani.

Piero Umiliani.


Born Florence Italy, in 1926. Composer musician Piero Umiliani had originally studied law, fully intending to make a career as a solicitor. His keen interest in music however was to distract him from this profession and led him to begin to play the piano. He had been teaching himself the instrument since he was a child and by the time he was 14yrs of age had become quite competent at performing. It was also during his childhood that Umiliani decided that it was jazz music that particularly attracted him. He studied with Vitto Frazzi, and later graduated from The Luigi Cherubini Consevatory in Florence with degrees in counterpoint and fugue. During the 1950,s, Umiliani decided to change location and move to Rome, on arrival in the Italian Capital the aspiring composer set himself up as a pianist, arranger and orchestra director. In the early part of 1958, Umiliani made his first recording, this was an LP entitled DIXIELAND IN NAPLES, which was released on the RCA recording label. Soon after the release of this recording, Umiliani was approached by

Film director, Mario Monicelli who asked the composer if he would compose the score for a film entitled I SOLITI IGNOTI, The film was a comedy, and was the first film in Italy to have a score that was completely jazz music. Umiliani, s music was so successful that it led to other assignments, which included film scores and commissions for jazz compositions. Although I SOLITI IGNOTI is looked upon as the composer’s first cinematic encounter, Umiliani had in fact worked on a film some three years previous, as he recalled. ”I was studying in Florence, and I was asked to write a piece for a documentary called IL PITTORI DEL DOMENICA, this was produced and also directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, the theme that I composed PICCOLA SUITE–AMERICANA PER 4 ANCIE was not relay that melodic, quite avante garde I think, but at this time I was still young and enjoyed experimenting”. Many collectors of soundtracks associate Umiliani with scores for comedies, thrillers and films that fit into the category of being soft porn or striptease.


Movies in all of these categories were produced in their abundance in Italy during the 1960,s thru to the mid 1980,s. Umiliani,s style and musical approach was very much suited to these types of films, his scores being mostly light in their construction and being influenced with jazz flavours, and it was probably due to this style or sound that was realised by the composer that the majority of his music is now being labelled as Exotica or Lounge music, and is also finding its way onto countless compilations that are easy listening. Umiliani has become a highly respected and widely known jazz musician and composer. His jazz efforts often outweighing and overshadowing his works for the cinema. The composer’s love of jazz is very evident and often manifests itself within his music for film. On many occasions this jazz style forming the musical foundation for his motion picture scores. But it has sometimes been difficult for the composer to incorporate jazz into his work for film.


” It has always been something of a task to convince filmmakers that maybe jazz could be the right style of music for their movie, I have always been fortunate enough to be able to work with directors and producers that I have had a good working relationship with. But many times they have asked me to create a grand more symphonic sound, when really jazz music would have served the picture much better”. One particular piece of music that the composer is readily associated with is the quirky and somewhat offbeat and infectious composition MAH,NA,MAH,NA. The tune was originally released in1968, and has over the years been re-released on many occasions, and has become something of a musical calling card for the composer. ” MAH,NA,MAH,NA. is the most simple and elementary music that one could write, so maybe that is why people have found it so appealing over the past 30 years or so, the voice on the song is that of my good friend and fellow composer Alessandro Alessandroni. I have worked with him and his choir on many things; Sandro has a great talent, but maybe is not recognised as much as he should be”. Said Umiliani.MAH,NA,MAH,NA. Was given a new lease of life in the 1980,s and charted high in the British charts when Jim Henson’s Muppets gave it an airing, re-introducing the peculiar sounding tune to a whole new generation of listeners. As a composer Umiliani is very much like the proverbial chameleon, adapting and changing his styles for each project, enhancing and gracing each movie with his music, and applying his own individual mark upon it. He has also worked with and had his compositions performed by such great artistes as, Chet Baker, Helen Mirril and Gato Barbieri. The film music career of Piero Umiliani spanned some four decades, and during the composers later years he still continued to compose for the cinema and also write sophisticated and tasteful jazz, that was modern yet easily interpreted and understood, and above all listenable and entertaining. The Maestro passed away in Florence on February 16th 2001, aged 75, He will be missed by all who knew him and worked with him.