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Demme to direct Avitabile docu

Azzolini to produce pic about Italo musician

Jonathan Demme will direct a Naples-set music documentary about Enzo Avitabile, the local jazz and fusion musician of whom he is a big fan.

Demme, whose previous portrayals of music bands include docus about Neil Young and The Talking Heads, unveiled the project in Naples where he met Mayor Luigi de Magistris, who is supporting the pic and will also appear briefly.

Producer Davide Azzolini is shepherding via his Dazzle shingle with financing from RAI Cinema, the film arm of pubcaster RAI.

Avitabile is a sax player and songwriter who, after touring internationally and collaborating with James Brown and Tina Turner among others, returned to his roots and incorporated the southern Italian “Bottari” tradition — using of barrels as percussion instruments — into his sound.

His “Salvamm’ o munno” (Save the World) album, with the Bottari pulse, was nominated for a BBC Award for World Music in 2006.

Demme heard a track of this album on the radio, became a big fan, and asked Azzolini if he could put him in touch with Avitabile when Demme attended the Naples Film Festival in 2010, Azzolini said.

The Demme docu, working-titled “Enzo,” will feature a live performance by Avitabile and a host of world music stars, including Eliades Ochoa from the Buena Vista Social Club, Palestinian singer Amal Murkus, Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, Iranian sitar virtuoso Hossein Alizadeh and Spanish guitarist Gerardo Nunez.

The Neapolitan music scene, which comprises jazz, blues, rock and rap, fusing local sounds with African and American influences, also recently featured in John Turturro’s docu “Passione.”

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