“"A charming genius! One of my all time favourite performers." ”
— Martin Stephenson- legendary UK songwriter
Roberto Cassani, born 1975, brought up in rural Lombardy, Italy, in a small town called Rivolta d’Adda that, at least in Roberto’s mind, is preserved in all its old charm. Roberto has relocated in the Scottish countryside more than two decades ago, and has developed into a man and artist of great integrity and originality, mainly thanks to that rural grounding deeply sewn in his personality.
Roberto’s honesty, simplicity, friendship, humour, kindness, empathy, resilience and love are conveyed thanks to the wisdom of his double bass and his genuine voice, which employs his original dialect to express emotions happy or sad, funny or tragic, but always true.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Roberto did not come from musical stock, but from a humble family who loved him, which is all that matters anyway.
Roberto started to play guitar and write songs at 9 years of age, making it up as he went along. Still a teenager, he was signed to a big record label and mentored by great jazz double bassist Giovanni Tommaso. The infatuation with the double bass and improvisation started at that time. Immature and stubborn, Roberto could not digest the pop requirements of a major label and gave up before recording a debut. In the meantime, a National Service spent caring for elderly people as a conscientious objector, introduced Roberto to the joy of caring for people in need. This, along with the desire to travel, encouraged Roberto to relocate to Great Britain, where he became a nurse and met Scottish lass Lara, the love of his life. Those were the adventurous times when you could go off the radar and grow into the person you wanted to be, before the Internet, as they say. Roberto, Lara and their little daughter Ruby are still happily there, in rural Perthshire.
OK, but what about the music?
Roberto’s urge to play music returned quickly. Having arrived in Scotland not knowing anyone, he started to play pubs with only his little acoustic guitar (most definitely not his instrument of choice). He realised straight away that his heavily accented spoken English made people smile, so he invented himself an “alter-ego” as a comic singer, which allowed him to travel the world for a while and became quite popular, especially when the was able to add-in the jazz musicality of his double bass and the contributions of great musicians, like his friend and guitarist Owen Nicholson.
For well over a decade, Roberto has been managing a busy schedule, between sessions as a double bass player with some of the best Scottish acts (Folk, singer/songwriters, jazz, world, etc.) and some more sporadic “comedy-music” gigs. After hundreds of concerts, it is hard to choose the favourites, but the big Festivals are easy to remember, such as the regular appearances as Fringe, Celtic Connections, Belladrum, Wickerman, Folk Alliance in the US and Canada, as well as nice theatres and the iconic Sun Studio in Memphis. But the favourites are possibly the small clubs in every remote nook and cranny of the UK.
Above all, Roberto values the mentorship and friendship he has received from Danny Thompson, the legendary English double bassist, who recognised Roberto as a great original artist and helped him not only with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the double bass, but especially with his marvellous humanity and the teaching that music counts only when it comes from the heart.
After “serving his time” with Danny, Roberto’s career has flourished and in 2020, in the midst of the Covid pandemic, he felt the need to write “Ansema we Stand”, a unique album blending the musical traditions of Scotland and his native Northern Italy. “Creative Scotland” recognised the value of the project and helped financing it, freeing Roberto and award-winning producer Andrea Gobbi from the potential restrictions of a label, hence allowing artistic freedom. With its rich pool of world-class musicians (Ross Ainslie, Anna Massie, John Somerville, Hamish Napier, Greg Lawson, Steve Fivey), its masterful blend of musical traditions and the authentic character of Roberto’s dialect, “Ansema we stand” is quite simply a unique and beautiful album.
“An extraordinary talent! A fantastic sense of humour, a great, great player and a great performer”. (Frank Hennessy - BBC Wales).
“This song and melody were born in Roberto's heart. It is a powerful song of love which we feel within his fine playing. A very moving performance and I love it." (Danny Thompson - double bass titan and music legend).
"A charming genius! One of my all time favourite performers." (Martin Stephenson - One of Britains best songwriters).
“Double bassist and arch humorist Roberto Cassani, aside from being spectacularly funny on stage and a fine musician, here delivers a honest ode to life and love. Bravely personal and at times quite affecting” (Paul Kerr - Blabber n Smoke).
“If he wasn’t amongst us already, somebody would have to invent Roberto Cassani, he’s such a blast of fresh air in a tired, self-regarding world.” (John Davy - Music News).
“An album that lifts the spirits and makes the world seem a better place” (Bluesbunny Music Reviews about “Oh!...L’amore!”).
"Roberto is truly un-classifiable! Completely unique and we absolutely LOVE him! (Chris's gigs - promoter).
”Wonderful. Highly original and great musicianship without being too flash. A unique sound. Very special”. (Roger Williams - A world of difference on Blues and Roots Radio).
"Scotland's favourite Italian! Absolutely wonderful and delightfully entertaining. Cassani Rocks!!" (Rob Ellen - Medicine Music).