Pianist, composer, conductor, Enrico Intra started his career since the young age, soon establishing himself already during the first half of the fifties, when the prestigious French magazine “Jazz Hot” consecrated him as the second best European pianist (after Marial Solal).
Among the most well-known Italian musicians, he has been one of the first to develop an European concept of jazz, starting from the impulses and the research of the classics without leaving the bounds of blues and the natural sense of swing imbuing all his music.
His compositions represent true challenges to formal and expressive patterns which are well consolidated, and range over the revisitation of blues, the sacred music, without neglecting the popular world (“Archetype”) and the wide-ranging compositions (New Civilization).
Famous was the friendship and collaboration with the guitarist Franco Cerri.
Those who know Enrico Intra remember his face like a baby always living in cloud-cuckoo-land, his behaviour sunny and lively with unpredictable reactions. As a result of this such aims could sound a little bit strange. But this time the brilliant but even discontinuous career of the twenty seven years old Milanese pianist is really at a cross-roads. We started hearing about Enrico Intra seven year ago, during a jazz event at the Manzoni Theatre of Milan in November ‘55. On that occasion both the audience and the critics were completely engrossed with the big names, but suddenly they started showing real interest in the music of an unknown quintet playing behind the curtains between one show and another. The enigma was soon solved and the “X Quintet” – the name given to that “ghost band” – then came to the fore conquering a deserving ovation. It was guided by a callow young pianist who, using the “Shearing sound” then in fashion, dusted off a series of old songs surprisingly fresh and lively performed. Considering the poor music scene of that period he was fairly making a sensation, because his abilities of thrilling “swingman” were like a shot in the arm. The consecration of this new talented man did not take a long time, and during the second edition of the Sanremo festival in ‘57, in front of an international audience and critics, the trio was welcomed as the best performers. Unfortunately the sensational performance was not repeated again (and probably it would have been a hard act to follow anyway) during the following Sanremo edition. Intra, who was then in the military service in Sardinia, used one of his permissions to play in the so called “city of flowers”, but he didn’t succeed in showing the same verve and communicational skills showed the previous year, the numerous ideas which ran through his music. Welcomed definitely into the bound circle of the most remarkable Italian jazz pianists, Enrico in the following years seemed to be unsure about which way to follow. He was probably plunged into the despair which hits those few Italian artists who don’t want to comply with the musical business demands. But this year he gained strength and he came back onto the jazz scene and everyone realized that they could not do without him.