“The best live music goes completely unnoticed,” says Rocco Somazzi about L.A. Sure, there are plenty of good sounds here that exist for worthy purposes of relaxation, meditation, hormonal agitation or release of aggression, but the Swiss-Italian clubman is talking about music-music, the evolutionary expressions fueled by originality, skill and intellectual daring. You could call much of it jazz, but, y’know, whatever.
To bring notice to the unnoticed (and to provide himself some listening fodder), in 1998 the eternally cheerful Somazzi started Rocco, his first club/bistro, in Bel Air, no less, aided with booking by friend Matt Piper. Inexperienced as a restaurateur, he got slaughtered by the realities of business and overhead, shutting down in 2000. He veered opposite with his next effort, moving Rocco in 2001 to a theater on a nasty Hollywood stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard to which few dared venture. He and Piper kept that chugging for a couple of years, but recently he’s found what looks like the perfect balance, presenting shows in downtown’s up-and-coming loft district at a clean, open and inviting little café (with carefully selected wine, beer and food) called Metropol.
Somazzi’s offerings in his clubs and now in occasional concerts at Barnsdall Theater have frequently been amazing: Cedar Walton with Billy Higgins, Steve Coleman, Avishai Cohen, Freddie Redd, James Carney, Vinny Golia — even completely out-there stuff such as the hyperkinetic Mexican marimba duo Micro-Ritmia. If it tweaks his ear, he’ll give it a shot.
Considering all the beatings and beatitudes Somazzi has experienced since moving to the USA in 1992, you’d have to consider his stance philosophical. It should be; he majored in philosophy.