Giovanni Ceccarelli was born in Fabriano, Italy.
He started playing piano at seven years-old, then at thirteen he turned on to jazz. He received the basics of piano by studying with Anna Trontino and Nedda Spotti. Giovanni taught himself how to improvise, later on he specialized by studying jazz with pianists Eddie Wied, Rita Marcotulli, Mike Melillo, Franco D’Andrea, Stefano Battaglia and Enrico Pieranunzi, with arrangers Bruno Tommaso and Giancarlo Gazzani, with musicologist Marcello Piras, with masters Dave Liebman and Jack Walrath. In the early 2000’s he studied classical piano with Emiliio Procaccini and North Indian music theory and tablas with Aki Montoya. In 2022 he obtained the French national diploma as piano jazz professor.
Giovanni started playing professionally in the Rome jazz scene, where he lived for ten years, acquiring a deep knowledge of the jazz standards repertoire by performing with numerous soloists and ensembles. As a sideman and as trio member with bassists Mauro Battisti, Stefano Cantarano and Giordano Pietroni and with drummers Carlo Battisti, Massimo Manzi and Francesco Vitale he performed in the most prominent jazz venues in Italy, Europe and the Middle East with Tony Scott, Benny Golson, Enrico Rava, Paolo Fresu, Jeff Ballard, Rita Marcotulli, Bob Wilber, Rosario Giuliani, Max Ionata, Luca Velotti, Gianni Basso, Garrison Fewell, Rosario Bonaccorso, Gianni Coscia, Fabrizio Bosso, Emanuele Cisi, Pietro Tonolo, Ettore Fioravanti, Massimo Nunzi, Charles Davis, Manu Katché, Marco Tamburini, Tiziano Tononi, Carlo Atti, Antonello Salis, John Stowell, Larry Smith, Joe Magnarelli, Jim Snidero, Attilio Zanchi, Gianni Cazzola, Gianluca Petrella, Massimo Moriconi, Stefano “Cocco” Cantini, Nicola Stilo, Dino Rubino, Roberto Taufic.
Giovanni recorded three albums playing standards with great jazz soloists Massimo Urbani – The Nights Of The Beuscher (Philology, 2009) – and Lee Konitz – At The New Mississippi Jazz Club (Philology, 2000) and Waxin’ in Camerino (Philology, 2011). His first release as a co-leader – The Street Dancer (Philology, 1998), a piano duo with mentor Eddie Wied – was also dedicated to the standards’ repertoire.
Giovanni is a very demanded pianist for jazz singers, thanks to his active listening, deep sound and rich harmonic palette. He was a steady member in vocalists Tiziana Ghiglioni and Ada Montellanico‘s groups, performing and recording with them the American and Italian songbooks – albums The Essential Ellington and Tenco In Jazz with Ghiglioni, Suoni Modulanti and Omaggio a Billie Holiday with Montellanico. He also played and recorded with great vocalists Nancy King, Mark Murphy, Giacomo Gates, David Linx, Maria Pia De Vito and Camille Bertault.
A prolific and inspired composer with an immediately recognizable style as a pianist, Giovanni has released some remarkable recordings, as a leader or co-leader, presenting his own compositions. He co-signed songs with Sandra Cartolari, which were released in her album Twolips (1999). While living in Paris, Damascus, Beirut, and back to Paris, he released Feedin’ Inner Urges (2009) with vocalist Fabrizia Barresi, Daydreamin’ (2010), acclaimed albums Météores (Bonsaï Music, 2011) – with long-time music collaborators Ferruccio Spinetti and Francesco Petreni – and Mare Calmo (2015) with bandoneon star Daniele di Bonaventura, Canto (2019) with saxophonist Marcello Allulli. His most recent album Pagine Vere with Michela Lombardi and Luca Falomi focuses on songs written by the pianist and the vocalist. In 2022 Giovanni published In Music’s Hands, a sheet music book containing original compositions for piano, vocals and other instruments.
Giovanni’s solo performances present a repertoire of original compositions on piano and the lyrical sound of clavietta. Together with humanitarian association Life4Syria he co-organized numerous Concerts for Syria featuring his solo performance with the participation of guest artists. Giovanni’s solos were also featured at benefit concerts supporting Italian regions which were struck by earthquakes. He has given solo concerts in Italy, France, Switzerland and Japan.
A curious and open-minded musician, Giovanni has a passion and strong interest in Brazilian music. In 2009 he and Spinetti formed group InventaRio, also starring Petreni and Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Dadi. Their acclaimed album InventaRio (My Favorite Records, 2010) featured Brazilian star Marisa Monte and Italian artists Petra Magoni and Pacifico. In Japan, it ranked among the five best world music albums of the year. InventaRio Incontra Ivan Lins (Blue Note / Biscoito Fino, 2012), a tribute to the music of Ivan Lins entirely recorded and arranged with the Brazilian master, was nominated as Best MPB Album at the Latin Grammy Awards. It stars some outstanding artists from Brazil and Italy including Chico Buarque, Vinicius Cántuaria, Maria Gadú, Vanessa da Mata, Tosca, Samuele Bersani, Fausto Mesolella and Chiara Civello. With di Bonaventura, Giovanni released Eu Te Amo – The Music Of Tom Jobim with the participation of great cellist and arranger Jaques Morelenbaum. Moreover, the pianist is featured in Dadi’s album Todo Vento and in singer-songwriter Maria Gadú’s album Nós.
Along his career, Giovanni has performed all over the world and recorded about sixty records, collaborating with jazz soloists and composers Marcello Sebastiani, Piero Delle Monache, Toni Germani, Enrico Ghelardi, Piercarlo Salvia, Fabrizio Cecca, Antonello Sorrentino, Elvio Ghigliordini and Enrico Bracco. He is part of Mauro Gargano‘s new group whose album Nuages was released in 2020.
Beyond jazz, Brazil, and composing, Giovanni has taken part in projects merging music with poetry in collaboration with Italian great actors Arnoldo Foà – I Canti Di Leopardi (Micromega, 1999) – and Alessandro Haber, poetess Francesca Merloni – Elice (2007) – and Gabriela Kurylewicz, theater director Federica Altieri. Giovanni has collaborated with visual artist Blas Gimeno Ribelles and he has been a steady member of cross-over ensemble Trioakì featuring jazz master Tony Scott. As a soloist and sideman he was featured in recordings by avant-pop ensemble Gnu Quartet, percussion orchestra Bandão, Cuban artist Mayto Torres, acoustic fusion group Agorà and duo As Madalenas. Giovanni has given several concerts with pop star vocalist Amii Stewart. As a duo with Allulli, he performs live soundtracks to silent movies, presenting a repertoire of original music.
Musical direction and arranging is another important facet in Giovanni’s career. Album Animantiga by Stéphane Casalta and the late Roberta Alloisio was nominated at Italian awards Targhe Tenco and Premio Loano. This album and Occhi by Italian crooner Francesco Giannelli featured Giovanni as an arranger and musical director.
Giovanni Ceccarelli is today a pianist, composer and arranger with a distinct style, leading and co-leading his own projects and collaborating internationally with artists and groups. His tribute album to the late, great composer Ennio Morricone. More Morricone (Bonsaï Music, 2020) is co-signed with Spinetti and features vocalist Chrystel Wautier. This album was acclaimed by the music press and media internationally. Giovanni’s longtime artistic partnership with Spinetti continues with the album Arie. A homage to the great Italian jazz composers, it stars master drummer Jeff Ballard.
Giovanni is a passionate and active music educator, giving lessons, workshops, masterclasses, conferences in jazz piano, improvisation, arranging, composing and ensemble playing on internet and around the world. For fifteen years he was the president of cultural association InJazz, organizing and directing jazz clinics in Italy. Currently he teaches jazz piano at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional in Cergy-Pontoise, France.
Photo credits: Vanessa Van Renterghem, Pilar Chozas, Ulisse Cipriani, Carlo Pieroni, Angelo Trani, Maurizio Machella, ProMu, Luigi Fogliati, Giovanni Canitano, Daya Performing Arts Academy.