Accordionist, Bandleader, Musical Director, Vocalist, Master of Ceremonies, Producer, Engineer and Author
Starting at a very young age, my original music and vocal coaches were, appropriately, my father Gianni, my brother Gianfranco and my mother Ida, followed by voice coach Norma Ditano. My earliest performance experience (backed-up by an accordion, of course), was at age 4 ½, during my vocal stage debut in a 1967 concert with Domenico “Volare” Modugno, backed-up by San Francisco Bay Area accordionist Val Valente, who also accompanied me in my first recording session (2 vocals) along with well-known mandolinist Rudy Cipolla at major West Coast studio “Golden State Recorders” in San Francisco in 1968 at age 5 ½, and my television debut in a “live” appearance on well-known folk-singer Stan Wilson’s TV variety show.
My first playing experience with an accordion, after only 3 months of lessons, was an impromptu New Year’s Eve performance of an Italian waltz on my accordion teacher’s Cordovox CG-5M “Super V” electronic accordion in 1971 - a 3 minute performance that changed my life, cementing my destiny as an accompanist, soloist, band leader, collector, restorer and perpetual student of the accordion.
I credit two Italian immigrants, Michele Corino (accordionist, formerly with “Orchestra Angelini” and Cetra Records) and Nick Sfarzo (guitarist, mandolinist, father & “early” music coach of accordionists Angelo Sfarzo, an Excelsior (accordion) Artist, and my colleague and friend Ron Sfarzo) for the vast majority of my early instrumental study (1971-1976). Affectionately called “Nikki”, Sfarzo coached me in the areas of rhythm, tempo, chord progression and ear training throughout the years I performed with him in the 1970’s. Since then, I have been self-taught and continue to study both accordion and voice, believing in the ongoing space and continual need for improvement and enhancement. I am also a member of the historic American Accordionists’ Association and San Francisco Accordion Club.
My instrumental repertory has covered Opera to Jazz, Country & Western to Show Tunes, Italian and other European Folk and semi-classical material, American Standards and even Oldies Rock and Roll (specifically on the Cordovox). Owing to long-term private study with prominent voice teachers Janet Parlova and Maria Greco, with a bit of help from voice teacher Salvatore D’Aura and an major intervention from operatic tenor Ermanno Mauro, I am also an operatically trained vocalist, but now specialize in Great American Songbook, Show Tunes and Italian ballads.
Caffe Trieste Saturday Concert circa 1972, my very early days in the band (at right). Nick Sfarzo on guitar. Photo by Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Rosenthal
Finally, as a vocalist and accordionist, I’ve been graced with the opportunities to perform on film, television, radio, internet and stage with and for singers such as Claudio Villa, Luciano Pavarotti and Frankie Laine, with my own bands and backed-up by bands and orchestras such as those of Sal Carson, Ernie Heckshire, Dick Bright, and the San Francisco Opera in the top hotel, auditorium, theater, club and show venues in Northern California, including Candlestick Park and Davies Symphony Hall.
I am the youngest and only American-born member of the Giotta Family. My father, Caffe Trieste founder “Papa Gianni Giotta”, together with my brother *Gianfranco, established what continues to be the longest running musical show in San Francisco, the Caffe Trieste Saturday Concert. Under my direction, our show covers a wide range of repertory, and the band is replete with two accordions. My behind-the-scenes experience includes that of published author, record producer and recording engineer and studio manager. The family operates a large recording studio (Trieste Recording Studios), has produced record albums and videos under the TRIESTE RECORDS label, and has made thousands of appearances in all types of media, film and on concert stages since 1953.