It’s not news that great music emerges from dire circumstances, but bravissimo to Frank London, composer, trumpeter and co-founder of the Klezmatics (among myriad exploits) for his new album, a breathtaking journey through the ghettos of history. In 2016, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice Ghetto, Beit Venezia, an institution dedicated to the lagoon city’s Jewish culture, invited London as an artist-in-residence … More Frank London: Ghetto Songs
Over a career spanning 40-plus years and more than a dozen albums, Beppe Gambetta has steadily added talents to his repertoire. From a young acoustic guitarist channeling Italian and American folk and bluegrass into a signature style, he became singer, composer, arranger, sound engineer and concert producer. At age 65 he has added one … More Beppe Gambetta: Where the Wind Blows / Dove Tia o Vento
Based in Avignon, the women of La Mòssa are polyphonic and polyglot; they have varied music backgrounds (jazz, folk, rock, roots), they tell stories old and recent, true-to-life, fanciful and surreal, describing marriage and courtship, evoking wars, witches and mermaids. There’s an elegant coherence to it all, as if they carry a world of lore in a small purse—labeled “roads women have traveled” and closed with a clasp of attitude. What binds all the facets … More La Mòssa: a moss’!
Do Baroque concertos composed for harpsichord sound as good with piano? Does a Languedoc cabernet sauvignon taste as good today as it did in 1850, before blight forced French winemakers to import American vine roots? For better or worse, music and viticulture face mergers, evolution, assimilation—and when taste is involved there are no right or wrong answers. But one fine day the four musicians of Balarù, from Piedmont in Italy’s … More Balarù: Gravure
For the polyphonic quintet Actores Alidos, songs may entertain but they serve primarily as rhythmic frames for human activity—work, banter, celebration, telling love stories, amusing or calming children, lamenting loss and expressing faith. The women are based in Quartu Sant’Elena, Sardinia, and perform traditional and contemporary works that give voice to the island’s women. Led by vocal soloist and arranger Valeria Pilia, they sing in Sardinian—a cappella or accompanied … More Actores Alidos: Galanìas
It’s not easy to hide two gems on a 14-track record, but Eros Ramazzotti’s latest album is so packed with enthralling songs that listeners can get distracted. Much reviewer praise has gone, fairly enough, to the country-tinged Alla Fine del Mondo (To the Ends of the Earth) and to the title track, a smooth-rock portrait of how ordinary details of the day become perfect in the reflection of new love. But consider those overlooked gems. … More Eros Ramazzotti: Perfetto
A commanding presence on the Italian music scene for more than 30 years, Fiorella Mannoia is an artist who seems to get better with time. A Te (For You), her latest album, is a tribute to the Italian troubadour Lucio Dalla, who died in 2012. The best track of Mannoia’s homage is “La casa in riva al mare” (The house by the sea) about a prisoner’s dream of freedom and love: “From his cell … More Fiorella Mannoia: A Te