Taranta Nights 2 (Italian World Music (IWM 252 , 2009)
Unfortunately, "O Sole Mio," "Mambo Italiano" or some other equally cheesy pop song passes as what many Americans think of when you say Italian folk music. Now, I do not as a general rule think that Americans are cultural barbarians, but I think that we are often victims of the media’s attempt at a culturally inaccurate shorthand. I’m simply suggesting that perhaps the local public radio station shouldn’t use Dean Martin’s "That’s Amore" as the background music while promoting a trip giveaway to Rome. Having said that, listeners looking to dip their toes into the Italian folk tradition might want to pick up a copy of Italian World Music’s release Taranta Nights 2.
Taranta music, also known as pizzica, is the hot sound sweeping across Italy and this music is real deal. This musical tradition, that originated in Greece and that has roots going back some 3,000 years in the Apulia and Calabria areas of Italy, has found some modern interpreters who turn Italian folk on its collective ear. Taranta Nights 2 features some of the best known Italian folk groups on the Taranta folk stage today, like Ghetonia from the Griko-speaking region of Southern Apulia, Menamenamo from the Salento music scene and Zimbaria who is the gold standard in Italian folk music.
The musical goodies stacked up on the 2-CD Taranta Nights 2 are enough to have fans stand up and beg for more. Bold, raucous and deliciously infectious some of the goodies include Tamburellisti de Torrepauduli’s "Balla Taranta," Menamenamo’s sultry "Menamenamo," Zimbaria’s "Baciu ‘Nvelenatu" and Ghetonia’s lovely masterpiece "Agapiso." And that’s just the first disk! Fans should also check out the driving wonderfulness that is Salentomusica Ensemble’s "Li Santi Pauli" on disk one.
Disk two is just pulsing with electricity with Zimbaria’s "Pizzica de Focu," Briganti de Terra d’Otranto’s delightfully folksy "Essiti Cacciatori de Sti Sciardini" and the sweetly plaintive "Klama," also by Briganti de Terra d’Otranto. For sheer fire Ghetona’s Pizzica de Aradeo" stands out with flashes of flamenco, as does the festive feel of Antidotum’s "Duminica Te Portu." Antidotum makes bright work out of "Quant’ave," while Menamenamo turns "E Gnazzu" into sheer delight. My favorite has to be Ghetonia’s "Kali Nifta" with its lazy turns of clarinet and accordion and emotion soaked vocals before galloping headlong into frenzied fun..
Taranta Nights 2 pulses with Mediterranean boldness and will certainly inspire at least one turn around the dance floor. One listen and you’ll never go back to "Mambo Italiano."