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TOTO TORQUATI

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Toto Torquati biography
Antonio "Toto" Torquati is an excellent keyboardist, blind from his birth who had a very promising career as a session musician, first in the jazz circuit and subsequently in the pop field, playing with many famous pop artists as Claudio Baglioni, Lucio Dalla, Gianni Morandi, Mina and, later, in Gepy & Gepy group.

A little-known debut album appeared in 1972, simply titled with his real name "Antonio Torquati". It's a ten-tracks instrumental based on moog and keyboards and includes cover versions of 60's hits, like Oh! Happy Day or Aquarius.
A second one, more mature work, appeared in 1973 as "Gli Occhi di un Bambino" but, unfortunately, went totally unnoticed at the time. It's generally regarded as an excellent example of italian symphonic prog. The album is in fact heavily orchestrated and contains classical and progressive elements.

Torquati has totally disappeared as a solo artist after a commercial single in 1977, "Tenero al Cioccolato", but he kept collaborating with many popular artists and still has a recording studio in Rome.
His return to a record release was in 2007 with a new CD entitled Vita, Amore e Musica.

This is his usual (nowadays) keyboards' set: Kurzweil K 2500 128 Mb Sample Memory 88 Piano Keyboards,
Korg Trinity Plus Full Options, Hammond B3 with Leslie, Roland VS 880 Expanded, Yamaha Kx 88 master Keyboards, Akay S 3200 Sampler, Korg 01 W FD, Korg T3, Korg WaveStation A/D, Yamaha TG 500, Roland D 550, Yamaha TX 816.








Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
His talent and unique keyboards' playing make his music something to search for, especially for his gentle and classical touch. An important figure for the italian classic prog scene to be discovered.



Discography:
Antonio Torquati, studio album (1972)
Gli Occhi di un Bambino, studio album (1973)
Tenero Al Cioccolato (7" single) (1977)
Vita, Amore e Musica, studio album (2007)

Toto Torquati official website

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Gli Occhi Di Un BambinoGli Occhi Di Un Bambino
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TOTO TORQUATI discography


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TOTO TORQUATI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 14 ratings
Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino
1973
4.00 | 1 ratings
Vita, Amore e Musica
2009

TOTO TORQUATI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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TOTO TORQUATI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Tenero al Cioccolato
1977

TOTO TORQUATI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino by TORQUATI, TOTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 14 ratings

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Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino
Toto Torquati Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars In the eyes of a child

I have been enjoying this album during my daily commute the past couple of weeks. The intimacy it holds - the far reaching musical themes, as well as that infinitely warm and luscious Italian feel that literally exudes from this album. If anything, the music you'll find hiding underneath that innocent child's face - is one of deep emotive power, and never does it become saccharine or over the top. It's skilfully orchestrated right down to it's inner layers, and when you start to peel away the individual skins of this marvellous musical onion, you find a lot of spice and ornamentations that help this venture attain it's natural and soulful magic.

As other reviewers here have mentioned, Toto Torquati is a keys man who since birth has been without the gift of sight. Now don't let that fool you, because people who can't see are usually anything but blind, even if we seers of 'truth' and trees and sunsets proclaim that. Blind is something that comes from being purposefully naive, vengeful, spiteful or just deliberately mean. People who can't use their eyes are often the ones that see things the way they are - maybe because the world usually comes up with eye- candy traps and all the things that make you deviate from the 'righteous' path. Anyway that's my take on it after spending over 20 years in a loving relationship with Stevie Wonder's Innervisions....

Toto here plays a mean piano - in fact he plays every tangent fuelled instrument unbelievably well. He often reminds me of a smoother and friendlier Keith Emerson. The way he jumps from theme to theme is a thing of beauty, and if you've ever watched butter dissolve in a hot pan, you'll know the feeling of this man's playing. He can be forceful as well - relegating big booming segments of musical theatre and still, he keeps things nice and fluid - and he never feels staccato or hesitant of what comes next - a trade that thankfully shines through in all of this man's facets. Synths, organ, keys or piano.

Apart from the RPI flavour of the occasional acoustic guitars and the melodic piano melodies that more than often point a finger or two back to the old celebrated Verdi, I sense a distinct fusion groove as well. To be more clear, the sparingly used synthesisers give off a vibe that wouldn't feel out of place on a Caravan album from around the same time. This is where the music can get a little quirky and fun, although it never really gets humorous. You'll get mantraing piano chords with a jazzy beat underneath them - and then those laser beam synths trashing through in the most remarkable way. Just like Sinclair's magical touch, on here the result is somewhat identical - bringing with it a sparkling vivacious kick to the music. It's as if everything jumps up a gear or two.

Now take everything I just said about the synths and apply it to the guitar. Swoop! You've got yet another conveyor of melodic soloing. Just like I said before, there is indeed a Canterburian feel to these scoops of sound, and like any other means of transportation, you'll certainly feel invigorated and deeply alive during these stints - like sticking your head out of car window when you're doing a 150 on the free- way........ Wind in your hair, yeah that sounds right. Wind in your hair.

Allright, we have RPI and Canterbury covered - oh did I forget to mention the symphony orchestra that very tastefully paints the missing pieces within the music in a deep crimson red? Scores of violins and cellos that breathe air into the album - like a thousand hot air balloons setting off inside your living room. These are powerful breaks, and you actually get hit with them immediately in a refined and elegant manner. Folks like myself, that is laymen, will probably call this opening piece an ouverture. A piece of indefinable measure that warns you of what's to come, although on here these gentle sweeps of orchestral sound find you at ease and comfortably in check. One could argue that the docile behaviour of the start seems strangely unfitting of an album that weaves in and out of fusion and rock templates, but I do find it to be extremely necessary. Just like the following symphonic stints where the heavens open up and the violins sing, it helps the album fluctuate between darkness and light. It adds to the album a natural dynamic range, that would have the lads from Rush running straight home to their mommies.

All in all the music at hand gives hope to all you people with an affinity for the melodic and huge. More than once did I think of the Portuguese Jose Cid - in part for the occasional meaty Springsteen vocals, but more importantly for this album's cunning way of knitting the different puzzle-pieces together to form a whole of unlikely sizes. I really love this album, and it is breathtaking proof of just how imminent and imaginative this scene was back in the day, - and you certainly don't need your eyesight to see that...

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 Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino by TORQUATI, TOTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 14 ratings

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Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino
Toto Torquati Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Antonio Torquati was a blind-born Italian keyboardist with many collaborations throughout his career both in Jazz and Pop music, most notably with Bill Coleman, Billy Smith, Lucio Dalla, Gianni Morandi, Mina, and Gepy & Gepy.In 1972 he released a self-titled keyboard-based debut, followed a year after by ''Gli Occhi di un Bambino'' on RCA label.

With participations among others from bassist Mario Scotti from Quel Giorno di Uve Rosse, drummer Massimo Buzzi of Pierrot Lunaire fame and also Gepy & Gepy on vocals, Torquati had the opportunity to show his nice skills on composing and arranging.His style was quite diverse, mainly being in an orchestral mood with a fair dose of Classical influences but occasionally stepping into Soul, Fusion, Blues and Pop fields.The mix is pretty outstanding and the album is surprisingly coherent despite the exploration of unsimilar music paths.''Gli Occhi di un Bambino'' includes all of these elements to satisfy a demanding listener: impressive musicianship, catchy grooves, romantic instrumentals and changing climates.Without being complicated, the tracks are intricate and varied.From LE ORME smooth piano-led prog ballads to Orchestral Pop/Prog vocal-based numbers and from light guitar-driven Fusion to organ/moog-smashed parts, the album has this captivating vintage feeling and a good tightness to be greatly appreciated.

Torquati suddenly disappeared after this album, recording only a single in 1977 and composing the music for the ''Speed Cross'' film (1980).More recently, in 2007 he returned with a brand new solo album entitled '' Vita, amore e musica''.

Torquati's ''Gli Occhi di un Bambino'' is a release rather far from the Classic Italian Prog sound, but again it is an effort with a sound of its own.Artistic, attractive and at moments, this album is a great addition for fans of flexible Progressive/Art Rock.An easy purchase, as the album has been re-issued in CD format several times...3.5 stars.

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 Vita, Amore e Musica by TORQUATI, TOTO album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Vita, Amore e Musica
Toto Torquati Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Toto Torquati is an Italian artist who, after the release of two solo albums in the early seventies, continued his career as a session man, arranger and producer. During the years he collaborated with Italian pop stars and singer songwriters such as Claudio Baglioni, Lucio Dalla, Mina, Patty Pravo, Francesco De Gregori, Rino Gaetano and many others but he didn't release any other solo album until 2009. On the 1st of April I was in Rome and I had the chance to attend the showcase where Toto Torquati presented his new work, "Vita, Amore e Musica" (Life, Love and Music). He was introduced by Claudio Baglioni (a romantic singer song-writer who's very famous in Italy, although not one of my favourites) who sung three of his old hits arranged by Toto Torquati (included "Questo piccolo grande amore). Then Toto Torquati performed almost all the tracks of the new album with the help of a band of young musicians featuring Antonello Ruggiero (drums), Stefano Napoli, (bass, counterbass), Fabio De Vincenti (electric guitar), Simone Gianlorenzi (electric and acoustic guitar) and Valeria Scognamiglio (violin). Toto Torquati was like a keyboards wizard performing charms and the show was emotionally intense and full of pathos. I was really impressed by the vitality and the energy he could transmit to the public. The new pieces are almost completely instrumental but on stage a speaker read a short poetical commentary for every track (in the CD booklet you can find the words written by Luigi Calabṛ).

It took almost twenty years to Toto Torquati to compose, record and refine the tracks on this album, but the result is remarkable. On the booklet "Vita, Amore e Musica" is described as "acrobatic music spreading between two majestic frontiers, life and death" and Toto Torquati here really seems oozing love for life and music...

The opener is a solemn crescendo, the beautiful and classical inspired "Inno", then there's a sudden change of mood and atmosphere with the crazy and synthetic happiness of "Dance". "Tema per Giulia" is romantic and dreamy, while "Ritratto" features a strong flavour of "Mitteleuropa" where "into the choreography of notes in black and white, a light melancholy goes up like a thread of smoke"...

"Suonando a casa" features a great swinging piano work. "Viaggio" is a beautiful musical journey around the world with an exotic taste and a perfect interaction between bass, guitar and keyboards. "Valzer" is another great track where European tradition is blended with a colourful touch of jazz.. "Perhaps you have to caress your dreams if you want that they keep faith in you": the long, jazzy and dreamy "Sogno" leads the new horizons of peace and serenity of "Orizzonti"...

"Maestoso Pater correndo", introduced by a church-like organ, is my favourite track on this album. Listening to it you can fly high "on the wings of a prayer rooted in your heart"... Next comes the quiet and delicate "Ninna nanna" that is described like "a whisper to listen to into the voiceless confusion of men"

Then, in the "Jazz Paradise", you can listen to "the stars playing piano" before the last track, "Vulcano" (mentioned as bonus track), featuring a light seventies disco taste (Giorgio Moroder and La Bionda) and excellent keyboards parts.

Well, more the seventy minutes with no room for boredom... An excellent album, well performed and recorded that should be a must for every Italian prog collector.

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 Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino by TORQUATI, TOTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 14 ratings

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Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino
Toto Torquati Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by jimmy_row

4 stars The Stevie Wonder of Italy! . well, sort of

Sitting down to give an album that first attentive listen, you never know what to expect, especially one as overlooked as this. Sometimes an album goes unnoticed for good reason, and sometimes an album is just unwelcoming or difficult to grasp, keeping the more casual listeners away. Gli occhi di un bambino is really neither of those, in fact I was hooked on first listen; blown away by the "big- time" sound, and the fluidity with which Torquati explores seemingly incompatible approaches.

Toto Torquati is a good example of a session musician who gained a backlog of experience working with established and rising artists during the artistic boom. Blind from birth, but without any noticeable effect on his skill behind many keyboard instruments; he played with many prominent acts and artists, beginning with jazz and dabbling in pop as well. Despite his experience and reputation, the first solo album, a collection of keyboard covers based around hit singles, gained little attention. He released another one (Gli occhi) a year later in 1973 which would be his last. This album received even less attention than the first despite being a large improvement. Luckily, the "Italian prog revival" in the '90s brought this gem to the light of day when Akarma reissued it on cd. Also surprising is the great sound quality and production - definitely one of the clearest records you will hear this deep in the prog trenches. As for the styles employed here.that's a tough one because we're at the artist's whim: it feels like Toto tried out everything he was familiar with or that seemed interesting, and the result surpasses this reviewer's ability to explain it. Basically, you will hear pop, jazz, orchestral/classical, symphonic, gospel, funk, soul. I would say that most adventurous listeners will find something (probably many things) interesting; it's not a difficult album to enjoy.

The first two tracks show off some creative development of themes that will be used throughout and allow Toto to get some good exercise out of the keyboard rig. It takes just over one minute to reach the first majestic orchestral flourish; an almost text-book symphonic introduction, but it transitions straight into a funky guitar riff that converses with a cool, choppy drum beat. This definitely sounds like a tight, active band. The wide range of synths and effects take the place of would-be brass instruments. When the vocals come in, they are as powerful as the music: Giampiero Scalamoglia, whom Torquati played with previously, takes lead vocal duties, and he has a thick, soulful voice which is complimented by a chorus of female voices at times. The vocals really seem tailor-made for the soul/gospel parts, which play very nicely between the contrasting jazz and pop sections. And whoever plays guitar.they do a hell of a job - there's no hesitation to challenge Toto's keyboards for the spotlight in the faster sections, creating some deadly interplay. There aren't necessarily any "standout" tracks-the orientation is more toward the album as a whole - it could easily be combined into two or three movements rather than 12 separate tracks. Side one shows the development of several substantial themes, which are revisited on the final stretch of side two after some more "new" stuff. Parts within these movements really should have made some impact by themselves on the mainstream, given the prevalent attitudes of the time. The parallel feel of different motifs gives the album a clear soundtrack vibe, which is a good thing in my mind, going back to the "big-time" sound that I mentioned. Could this be a concept album ("The eyes of a child") about childhood? I can only guess...

Recommended to anyone enthusiastic about the fusion of styles; anyone who just flat out loves music, because the music and songwriting exude so much love for the craft. You can't help but find yourself taken in for the entire 40 minutes (yep, an RPI album that reaches the 40 mark!! You better rest up for the bad boy.) *insert that fitting majestic theme that opens and closes the album to end my review*

PA Rating: 4+/5 As I said, this album should appeal to many, though it's not the very best to come out of Italy. "Gli occhi di un bambino" has risen on the big list that I call my favorites, and I would like to see it given the attention that it deserves. I can't see anyone really disliking it.

The Jimmy Row Factor: 8.5/10, B+

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 Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino by TORQUATI, TOTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 14 ratings

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Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino
Toto Torquati Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Really good eclectic work.

Toto Torquati offers a great variety of styles here, from strong orchestral movements to more intimate classic piano interludes (as in Tu) to symphonic prog and even to gospel with some gentle funky touches. All the compositions are based upon an optimistic feel around the figure of childhood and the need of protection it deserves.

Despite this is one of the more obscure records from the classic italian prog scene, Gli Occhi di un Bambino is rather well produced and arrenged.

Sometimes it may appear in a similar vein to RUSTICHELLI E BORDINI for the massive use of keyboards: hammond organ, wurlitzer piano, ARP 2600, eminent and celesta. Vocals by Gepy and Gepy are in a similar low pitch but less harsh and more sharp. The general mood of the album is also very different, less adventurous and slightly more pop. Guitar playing is usually tight, nervous at times. Drums are NOT subdued.

I would compare it with RICCARDO COCCIANTE's debut titled MU for those who know him.

Presagio / Uomo Nasce, Fiore Cresce, Appascise, Muore (7:51) is the loger and probably the most exciting track for the aficionados. It's divided in two parts, symphonic prog in the first part then another majestic orchestral movement until the main theme returns.

3.5 stars.

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 Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino by TORQUATI, TOTO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 14 ratings

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Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino
Toto Torquati Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Warm, classy Italian keyboard gem

What an interesting find. Here we have an Italian treasure from a session man and keyboard extraordinaire. The album is a strange concoction of orchestral music, prog rock, and pop that might remind you of Rustichelli Bordini or Tower in that you have an accomplished keyboardist dabbling his toes in whatever tickles his fancy. The results were very good despite the potential pitfalls. What is quite notable is the fantastic playing and solid production values; the bass, drums, guitars, keys, and vocals all shimmer with brightness and clarity considering this is 1973 (and the nice cd remaster helps too.)

"La Terra" opens the album with a majestic orchestral introduction. "Il Mattino Dopo" is completely different shifting to an electric guitar riff with some piano coming in followed by a big synth sound. "Dove il Buio e'Signore" begins with some fluid bass alone and some beautiful backing vocals before the warm and rich main vocal begins. Then a great funky section with piano and wistful horns leading to a killer electric guitar solo. The playing is very tight but also with lots of emotion. This is a standout track to be sure. "Tu" begins with solo piano moving from moods of tension to sadness, very nice. Then we get a very soft introspective sounding vocal with piano and e-guitar. Towards the end a huge choir comes in and the vocals surge to a great crescendo before the track ends as it began with solo piano. "Adagio" is a strange one starting slow and changing to sections of breezy pop to a nice dual flute solo. Side one ends with "Gesu Quel Giorno" which features a nice organ intro. Then it gets an almost gospel feel with some nice choirs backing the piano and heartfelt vocal. Side two begins with an introduction called "Presagio" that leads into "Uomo Nasce" which is the longest track and another winner. The first section features energetic strummed clean guitars over a funky rhythm. A second section is completely different with the band replaced by strings. Soon the band comes back for a reprise of the main melody. "Adagio" is a wistful orchestral piece. "Il Conto Alla Rovescia" features spicy keyboard runs and hand percussion. "Era L'ora" is a lovely gentle piano ballad. Suitably we close with the opening "La Terra" orchestrations.

"The Eyes of a Child" is really a remarkably pleasant surprise that will knock the socks off of many Italian fans who seek it out. It is warm, inviting, and easy to enjoy. Recommended to Italian fans, keyboard fans, and fans of prog that incorporates classical and jazz elements. There's a nice BMG gatefold mini-lp sleeve reissue of this one available if you can find it.

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Thanks to andrea cortese for the artist addition.

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