Born in Pisa, Italy, in 1954, Francesco Martinelli since the Seventies has worked as the popularizer of jazz culture in his country as a concert promoter, journalist, author, speaker, and teacher. Between 1976 and 1982 co-organized the International Jazz Festival in Pisa, and since then has promoted many other events including La Nuova Onda, the Instabile’s Festival, An Insolent Noise, and many ad hoc events. Within these activities, several live recordings were issued in cooperation with European labels like Incus, Leo, Claxon and Po Torch.
As a journalist wrote on the Italian magazines musiche, Musica Jazz and Il Giornale della Musica among others; his articles appeared in many other magazines and websites including All About Jazz and Point of Departure. Currently, he is a regular contributor to the English world music magazine Songlines.
After publishing complete discographic volumes about Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Joelle Léandre, and Mario Schiano he intensified his activities as a translator, for the publishing houses Arcana, Il Saggiatore, EDT and ETS.
For EDT he curated and translated eight volumes of a series produced in cooperation with the Siena Jazz University (volumes by John Szwed, Andy Hamilton, Carl Woideck, Ted Gioia, Krin Gabbard, Michael Dregni, Chris de Vito), for ETS the Italian translation of the books Improvisation by Derek Bailey, Spirit Rejoice (about Albert Ayler) by P. N. Wilson and Conversations with Steve Lacy.
Within the Siena Jazz Foundationn, he is in charge of the Jazz Center Studies “Arrigo Polillo”, the most important archive and the library of its kind in Italy. For Siena Jazz, he also curated a monographic volume about Claudio Fasoli (Siena Jazz, 2010) as well as the Siena Jazz Eye exhibition and catalogue dedicated to the history of jazz record covers through 500 examples from the Siena Jazz collection.
After his research about Jean Michel Basquiat’s King Zulu, he’s been invited to contribute to the catalogue of the Boom For Real (Basquiat and music) exhibition at Barbican, London, in September 2017.
Lectured for NYU in New York and Italy, as well for other international institutions.
Teaches “History of Jazz” and “Popular Music” at Siena Jazz University and at the Conservatories of Leighorn and Trento.
In September 2018, after 6 years in the making the book History of European Jazz of which Martinelli is the editor was published by Equinox under sponsorship by EJN and EU
“A Night in Tunisia – Oriental Musics and Jazz: Mediterranean Crossings, Atlantic Crossings (Thessaloniki, Womex, 2012; Istanbul, Hayyam Studyo, 2013; Amsterdam, Rhythm Changes, 2014; Istanbul, Pankitap, 2015.)
“King Zulu – The Jazz History lesson of Jean Michel Basquiat” (Rutgers Center for Jazz Research, Newark, NJ; Rial Cercle Artistic, Barcelona, Spain, 2013)
“Italian Jazz Festival in the 70s: social commitment or cultural mismatch?” (Jazz Talks, Aveiro University, Portugal, 2013)
“The last chapter syndrome, or why the mainstream jazz histories cannot deal with European jazz?” (1 Congreso Jazz, Valencia University, 2013)
“Internationalizing Italian Jazz in the Seventies” (Growing Up Conference, Lucerne 2014)
“New Orleans: Opera and Jazz Together” (Lecture & Discussion by Francesco Martinelli and Jessica Teague. Performance by the Victor Goines Quartet, Columbia University, October 2015)
“Dealing Discographically with Free European Improvised Music” (Columbia University Discographic Symposium, April 2017)
Travels regularly in Turkey where he taught “History of Jazz” and related courses at Bilgi University in Istanbul while in Izmir he’s the consultant for the European Jazz Festival and for the Museum of Traditional Anatolian Instruments established by IKSEV. Updated the entry for Turkish music in the Rough Guide for World Music.