Words by Ciro De Rosa
Quaranta, CGS’s new release, celebrates four decades of the group’s existence. It is awe-inspiring, stirring and soulful; with an array of acoustic instruments plus subtle keyboards, this septet of accomplished musicians (plus one dancer) have long been giving Salento traditional music a contemporary character. Take the standout work-song-style opener ‘Tienime Tata’, or the powerful account of migrants, seeking hope, trying to cross the Mediterranean that is ‘Solo Andata’. Or the rousing ‘No Tap’, on which Fanfara Tirana add weighty brass, or ‘Ziccate’, about local environmental devastations. Producer Ian Brennan has captured the band’s sheer exuberance and straightforward sound. Thundering tamburelli percussion and driving fiddle by bandleader Mauro Durante (whose father co-founded the band in 1975), propel the organetto, guitar, bouzouki, bass, zampogna, ciaramella and flute, with Maria Mazzotta, Gianluca Paglialunga and Emanuele Licci’s voices displaying stunning diversity of timbre. There’s the bitter humour of the fizzing tarantella ‘I Love Italia’, featuring Piers Faccini, and the exotic-tinged ‘Taranta’, on which pianist Ludovico Einaudi pops up. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino are contagiously spreading the rhythms of Puglia round the world.