Jazz can help us
A Love Story
He gestured to me with his hand, inviting me to play even though I had only just entered the club and he didn’t know me. He was the pianist of a jazz club in Florence where they had jam sessions every Wednesday evening. I was overcome by curiosity, but since the barracks where I was living had a curfew that meant I had to be back inside before the club opened, I ended up climbing over the wall with my saxophone. The club was in the Cascine district, which was a long way away, but I was physically fit thanks to the marches they sent us on, so it wasn’t tiring, especially since the area was full of charming young ladies who gave me nice smiles. On the stage of the club were three people playing the piano, drums and double bass. I joined them with my saxophone and we began to play, using some pieces by Gershwin as a starting point. Psikosax – my saxophone – was very happy. He was the one who so often had the task of translating my thoughts and passions into sounds, to the point of practically becoming my psychoanalyst. He has always been a faithful companion, sometimes kind and understanding, at other times strict and severe. There were periods, even long ones, when we never saw each other. Flat ninth, Seventh Augmented Thirteenth, Fifth and Ninth etc. were chords I didn’t know, but that’s what the pianist was offering me, the beat flying along. I was lost, but I was also really curious and I even felt a shiver along my spine. Something new was happening: new sensations, new experiences, curiosity and a strange feeling of well-being. It was as if I had finally found what I had been looking for. It was only later that I understood what had happened to me in that moment in technical and scientific terms. I clearly remember the expression on the face of the pianist, who smiled and continued to speak to me with his colours while he contemplated the astonished but joyful look on my face. I listened and absorbed what I heard. The encounter with jazz proved to be like the breath of a special girl, that girl who had finally arrived at the destination of my existence. I sweated and I rejoiced: I tried to do my best because I wanted to respond to the music my friends were making. I knew nothing about them and yet their music was telling me all I needed to know about their outlook on life with perfect ease. In those moments I felt a freedom of thought, expression and sentiment. After welcoming me, the painter – I mean the pianist – left me alone with my saxophone, accompanied only by the colours as they flowed through my soul. The double bass player wore a dreamy smile, absent but sincere, friendly and transparent. He was at the same time together with us and in some far off place. The drummer had his head tilted to the left and his whole body rocked to the rhythm of his existence. A wave of endorphins swept through my brain and body. They were “men you couldn’t pigeonhole” and the world turned in their hands. We were happy to be together and to tell each other our stories. The manager of this happy club, a relaxed and friendly person, laughed and danced to the sound of the music as if he was on the stage with the musicians. Not much light, a lot of human warmth. Today, even after all this time, I can still feel the notes, the smiles, the smells of that magnificent night. It would have been a real shame to speak… I would have risked breaking the spell. The last chord of the last piece was special because it was a sustained chord, i.e. the one that precedes the closure of the entire piece, a Septimal diesis on C that was supposed to conclude with F. But the chord remained suspended because even today my adventure in the special world of jazz is a long way from being finished. In fact, it was the start of a life journey, or rather a life philosophy, which over the years has given me self-knowledge, friendship, awareness and so many other things that I expect in the future.
A doctor at Valtur
In the following years, until 1980, I accepted my appointment as a medician at the Valtur resort of Otranto. In this circumstance I had the opportunity to meet great artists, making unusual experiences for a doctor.
Jazz and Medicine
Medicine is not an exact science because although it is based on certain theoretical assumptions it often reaches conclusions that over time are seen to contradict each other.
In the same way, jazz starts from concepts of space and time that can be measured and it strives towards the harmony and aesthetics of thought. Rigour and discipline are the heart of a jam session, creativity and its extemporaneous nature are its soul.
The stage serves to separate the musicians from the listeners. The basic instruments are the piano, the drums and the double bass. The piano is an instrument of harmonic accompaniment, the drums serve to mark the tempo and the rhythm, and the double bass is like the rudder of a ship, serving to set the direction and guide all the other musicians.
Harmony, aesthetics and rhythm are the prime ingredients for an explosive recipe; all the other soloists are added to the basic recipe, providing different colours and expressions.
The final product is the sum of many ways of illustrating a creative moment.
The individual soloists merge with the group, generating cooperation, synergism, alliances, complicity, and multidisciplinary cooperation.
The typical language of jazz is the blues, which speaks of lives lived and contains anthropological motifs referring to love, sexuality and society. Anybody, regardless of talent, can get up on stage.
The choice and duration of the piece to be played are the result of agreement and understanding among the musicians. There is no distinction of age, gender or race.
The number of beats that each soloist plays is established on the basis of the principle of fairness. Anyone who gets on stage awaits their turn in accordance with the agreed arrangement.
Each musician must listen to the others in order to come in at the right moment.
On the stage there is no entitlement, paternalism or nepotism, but simply exchange, cooperation, synergism and often healthy competition.
The winner is the one who manages better than the others to express emotions to the public and all the other fellow travellers. All of this produces self-esteem, friendship and respect.
A circular movement is created between the soloist, the musicians and the public which is based mainly on relating and communicating through art.
This is what happens between doctor and patient…
And now I express my wish that the “Jam session” model can be extended all over the world.
My dream is that EVERYBODY will get up on the stage of the “Humanisation of Medicine” in order to play “The Music of Humanity”.
Whoever does not dream has no future. Today’s shared dream is the reality of tomorrow…
Fraternal greetings to all
The dawn of social medicine
Being a doctor of infectious diseases and working in the only infectious diseases ward in the Salento, I was in an excellent position to observe the links between the increasingly widespread use of drugs and the considerable rise in the number of cases of hepatitis B in the Salento. It was then that I decided – partly due to my passion for music and partly because it would be a socially innovative development for a small town in the Italian Deep South – to open “Le Caveau”, a jazz club with free entrance and a free stage.
In the course of about 13 years of activity, successive generations of young people have become interested in this new and innovative form of art. These include the simply curious, those who today are successful professionals and those who subsequently became great artists and are now appreciated all round the world, such as Tony Scott, Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Owens and Steve Grossman.
I have no scientific data on what might have been a big help for drug addicts, but I can say that although I did not realise at the time, this marked the beginning of what is now called “Social Medicine”.
“Whoever does not dream has no future. Today’s shared dream is the reality of tomorrow…”
In 1986, I and Antonio Culiersi, a pharmacist and musician from Muro Leccese (Le), decided to create a second club in Maglie (Le), where we were joined by another group of jazz lovers. The venue was the “Underground”, a former discotheque, where there was a beautiful baby grand piano that fortunately enabled us to invite the big names of international jazz. The artists who played there included Cedar Walton, Buster Williams, Meredith d’Ambrosio, Gianni Basso and many others.
Not Just Hippocrates
“Not just Hippocrates”is a project based on an idea by the Rome journalist Achille Martorelli, a distinguished contributor to the national journal of medical culture “Medico d’Italia”. By placing a classified advertisement in that journal he succeeded in setting up a group of about fifteen doctor-artists from all over Italy, from Sicily to Piedmont. Ennio Brunetta was the only doctor-artist from Puglia. The project started in 1990 and continued until 2000 with about fifty dates throughout Italy, with shows held in hospitals, drug rehabilitation centres and places of detention. Without realising it, the project participants were making the first attempt at humanising medicine by emphasising communication between doctor and patient through art
Sunday afternoon in Arnesano
The idea emerged from the friendship of two general practitioners, Doctor Ennio Brunetta and Doctor Artemio Martina (Arnesano). Inspired by similar ideals concerning art and medicine, they drew up a community-based artistic project which was implemented inside the beautiful Palazzo Marchesale (Marquess’ Palace) in Arnesano. The project entailed extemporaneous performances on a free stage, including music, poetry and courses of jazz. The event was so successful that it drew artists from all over the Salento. In addition, Doctor Martina’s patients expressed their enthusiasm and friendship by preparing traditional local dishes that were consumed in shared meals. The event enlivened the town of Arnesano from 2004 to 2006, helped by the strong support of the then Mayor Stefania Caiulo.
Multidisciplinary approaches in the clinic of General Practitioners
This is the coming together of medicine and the other sciences in the clinics of general practitioners in order to improve doctor-patient communication. The project took shape as a year-long experiment (from April 2005 to March 2006) proposed by Tiziana Dollorenzo, a doctor of psychosomatic medicine working in the clinic of the general practitioner Doctor Ennio Brunetta in Lecce. Research into renewal of diagnostic and therapeutic practice was conducted by means of a monthly cycle of informative meetings that involved the direct contribution of the patients. Each meeting was enhanced by the presence of artists, musicians, poets, sculptors, etc..
The No Stress Big Band
In 2005, based on an idea by Doctor Ennio Brunetta, and with the help of the Maestro Luigi Bubbico (teacher of jazz harmony at the Tito Schipa Conservatory in Lecce), a swing orchestra inspired by the music and style of of the musician Glen Miller was set up. After many years this project was recognised and continued by the same Conservatory in Lecce.
The Art and Medicine association
The natural evolution of the research into doctor-patient communication led to the birth in 2011 of the Arte e Medicina (Art and Medicine) association. The association’s main aim is the dissemination of best practices in order to humanise medicine. To this end the Club Arte e Medicina (Art and Medicine Club) was set up, in order to provide a forum without borders for cultural and artistic exchange.
Below is a series of photos of the headquarters of the Club Arte e Medicina (Art and Medicine Club), in Via Casanello, 17/a Lecce.
Humanisation of Medicine
The “Humanisation of Medicine through Art” project was taken up by Airan Berg, the Artistic Director of the city of Lecce’s Candidacy for European Capital of Culture in 2019, and was included in the Bidbook presented to the European Commission in September 2013.
Art and Medicine in the Salento Castles
The first national meeting of Medici e Pazienti Artisti (Doctor and Patient Artists. Press conference held by the Order of Doctors of Lecce. Arte e Medicina nei Castelli (Art and Medicine in the Castles) brought together for the first time in Italy the many doctor-artists who, in addition to their professional commitments, manage – with passion and sensitivity – to cultivate art in its various manifestations (from music to poetry, literature and photography). In addition, speakers involved in various ways in scientific research sought to explore the multiform aspects of the Humanisation of Medicine. Architetti in Arte (Architects in Art) also participated in the project, tackling still-experimental themes such as the design of spaces where medicine is practised on a daily basis. In this meeting, the presentation of reports alternated with musical or artistic numbers, bearing concrete witness to the unbreakable unity of art and science.
In the context of this meeting, on the 16th of September 2013, the “Rete Arte e medicina” (Art and Medicine Network) project was born.
Press conference at the Order of Doctors of Lecce, “Art and Medicine in Castles”, September 2013.
Doctors discuss communication through art and science
Città di Lecce Hospital. Photos, videos, poster for “Doctors discuss communication through art and science”..
Event: Humanisation of Medicine
Event: Ostuni, photos, videos, poster for the “Humanisation of Medicine”
Event: Laughter as Therapy
Programme providing information and education regarding the humanisation of medicine 2014-2016 – “La risata come terapia” (Laughter as Therapy), Città di Lecce Hospital.
Art and Medicine Network supports Lecce2019
Airan Berg, the Artistic Director of the city of Lecce’s Candidacy for European Capital of Culture in 2019, adds the Art and Medicine project to the Bidbook.