Tag Archives: Italian music

Artist Profiles: Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Renowned Italian band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino was created by writer Rina Durante in 1975. It is one of Italy’s most reputable and longest-standing traditional music ensembles.

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino comes from Puglia in the Salento, in southern Italy. The lineup consists of a seven member band and a dancer.

The ensemble recreates southern Italy’s Pizzica musical and dance traditions. The tradition pizzica tarantata is said to cure the taranta spider’s bite with its frenzied trance dances.

The group is led by fiddler and frame drummer Mauro Durante. The rest ofthe ensemble includes Emanuele Licci on bouzuki, classical guitar, vocals; Alessia Tondo on vocals; Silvia Perrone on dance; Giulio Bianco on harmonica, zampogna (Italian bagpipes), recorder; Massimiliano Morabito on diatonic accordion; and Giancarlo Paglialunga on tamburello, vocals.


Canti di terra d’Otranto e della Grecia Salentina (Fonit Cetra, 1997)
Concerto 1 (1980)
Come farò a diventare un mito (Dunya, 1983)
Concerto 2 (1985)
Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (1988)
Concerto 3 (1991)
Sutt’acqua e sutta ientu navegamu (1994)
Mamminieddhu Zuccaratu (1994)
Ni pizzicau lu core (1997)
Ballati tutti quanti ballati forte (Felmay, 1998)
Canti e pizziche d’amore (Salento Altra Musica, 2000)
carataranta (Salento Altra Musica, 2000)
Pizzica pizzica (Salento Altra Musica, 2001)
Alla Riva Del Mare (Salento Altra Musica, 2002)
Serenata (Salento Altra Musica, 2002)
Focu D’Amore (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2010)
Pizzica Indiabolata (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2012)
Quaranta (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2015)
Canzoniere (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Collettivo Decanter

Collettivo Decanter

Collettivo Decanter was formed in Turin in 2012 by vibraphonist and keyboardist Marta Caldara (Syndone, Extremadura), guitarist Marco Perona (Mystical Trio), vocalist Alessia Galeotti (Jazz Art Orchestra, Gipsy Soul, Organic Quartet) and multi-instrumentalist and composer Vincent Boniface (L’Orage, TocTocToc, Pitularita, Extremadura) with the intention of creating of their own musical compositions, including songs and instrumental.

The ensemble skillfully mixes the deep traditional transalpine folk music with soulful flamenco soul and jazz vocals. The result is a multifaceted world music project that explores various rhythms and melodies.

The first album, Aria con da capo was released in 2012.

Emilia d’Hercole is the second album (Visage Music) featuring a mature quartet with an intense Mediterranean sound.

Collettivo Decanter –

The lineup in 2019 included Alessia Galeotti on vocals; Marta Caldara on piano; Marco Perona on guitar; and Vincent Boniface on accordion and winds.


Aria con da capo (Dodicilune, 2012)
Emilia d’Hercole (Visage Music, 2018)


Tuscan Sea Tales of Pirates and Witches

Collettivo Decanter – Emilia d’Hercole (Visage Music, 2018)

Emilia d’Hercole is the second album by Italian ensemble Collettivo Decanter. Emilia d’Hercole is dedicated to stories about the sea, tales of navigation, love, pirates, devils and witches that come from the folk tradition of the Tuscan archipelago.

Collettivo Decanter – Emilia d’Hercole

Collettivo Decanter plays captivating music with a Mediterranean flavor, incorporating Italian folk elements, Spanish flamenco, jazz vocal stylings, Brazilian music and African kalimba.

The title of the album makes reference to a Christian woman from Elba (Italy) that was captured by Ottomans as a slave during a Barbary pirate raid.  She was later rescued after a Spanish and Italian city state fleet attacked Tunisia and freed thousands of Christian slaves.

Buy Emilia d’Hercole


Masterful Contemporary Italian Roots Music from Riccardo Tesi and Banditaliana

Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana – Argento

Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana – Argento (Visage Music, 2018)

Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana is one of the leading world music ensembles in Italy. Tesi and his colleagues combine Italian traditional music with Mediterranean influences, progressive jazz elements and even blues.

On Argento, the award-winning band celebrates its 25th anniversary with new material as well recreations of previously released musical pieces, including a moving tribute to the memorable Italian singer-songwriter Gianmaria Testa, who passed away in 2016. In addition to Tesi, percussionist Gigi Biolcati has emerged as one of the prominent composers in Banditaliana.

Although the core ensemble consists of four musicians on accordion, guitar, saxophone and percussion/vocals, three bassists, various percussionists and additional guests appear on Argento.

High profile guests include acclaimed jazz trumpeter Paolo Fresu; progressive rock multi-instrumentalist Mauro Pagani (Premiata Forneria Marconi) on bouzouki; pianist Francesco Magnelli; Spanish Basque accordionist Kepa Junkera (who plays the percussive chalaparta in this case); and the fabulous female voices of “Bella Ciao”: Elena Ledda, Lucilla Galeazzi, Ginevra Di Marco and Luisa Cottifogli. The three bass players are Silvano Lobina, Nicola Vernuccio and Mirco Capecchi. The album also features Andrea Piccioni on Middle Eastern and North African percussion and vibraphonist Ettore Bonafé.

Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana includes Riccardo Tesi on accordion; Maurizio Geri on guitar, saz, chitarra battente (southern Italian folk guitar) and lead vocals; Claudio Carboni on soprano, bartitone and alto saxophones; and Gigi Biolcati oo percussion, lead vocals and a new device called GGtarra

Argento is a captivating and masterfully-crafted album by some of the most talented instrumentalists in the Italian folk and world music scene.


Bandadriatica’s Musical Odyssey

Bandadriatica – Odissea (Finisterre, 2018)

Bandadriatica, the mighty brass band from southern Italy explores various musical regions beyond its native southern Italy on Odissea (Odyssey).

The succulent, explosive mix incorporates the mesmerizing percussive tambourine sounds and accordion of Salento (southern Italy), high energy Balkan brass, rock guitars inspired by Saharan desert blues, and trance-like North African Gnawa rhythms plus fascinating spoken word.

The ensemble includes Claudio Prima on organetto (accordion), vocals; Emanuele Coluccia on alto, tenor and soprano saxophone; Andrea Perrone on trumpet; Vincenzo Grasso on clarinet; Gaetano Carrozzo on trombone; Morris Pellizzari on electric guitar, mandolin and saz; Giuseppe Spedicato on electric bass and tuba; and Ovidio Venturoso on drums.

Guests: Giovanni Chirico on baritone saxophone; Antonio Castrignano on vocals and tamburello; Redi Hasa on cello; Simone Giorgino on spoken word; Roberto Chiga on tamburello; Lioness Afreeka, Federico Buttazzo, Alessandra Ferrari, Aldo Orlando and Maria Scogna on backing vocals.

Previous recordings include Contagio ‎(Finisterre, 2007), Maremoto (2009), Casa (2012), Arriva La Banda! (2012) and Babilonia ‎(Finisterre, 2015).


The Entertaining Crosscultural Brass Sounds of Salento

Cesare Dell’Anna and GirodiBanda – Guerra

Cesare Dell’Anna and GirodiBanda – Guerra (11/8 Records, 2018)

On the album Guerra, Italian trumpeter Cesare Dell’Anna explores various musical genres from a brass band perspective. The album features an odd mix of Italian street marches and sounds, Balkan brass sections, reggae beats, Middle Eastern street references, pizzica, dub, Salento folk dance songs, and the voices of street vendors.

There is a lot of fun and social criticism as well. American president Trump is disapproved on the song “Trump@, cavallo di ritorno palestinese.”

Cesare Dell’Anna directs the show, on vocals and playing trumpet, bombardino, drums, percussion and Moog synth. He is joined by a band from Puglia and the brass ensemble Opa Cupa. On Guerra, Cesare Dell’Anna also enlisted the most charming and expressive voices of the Salento tradition: Enzo Petrachi, Claudio Cavallo, Irene Lungo, Rachele Andrioli, Maria Mazzotta, Pino Ingrosso, Puccia, and Talla.

During live concerts, the cast of musicians and vocalists is joined by jugglers and street artists who create an amusing traveling street parade show.

Buy Guerra


Artist Profiles: Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira”

Tenores di Bitti

Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira” was formed in Sardinia and takes its name from the well-known anthropologist Michelangelo ‘Mialinu’ Pira from Bitti. All the members have been learning the traditional singing since they were children.

After a careful preparation, the group began to perform the ancient melodies at many town squares, theaters and churches of Sardinia (Italy) and abroad, including many European countries, Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Canada. In 2001, the group participated in the Christmas Concert for the Pope, with artists such as Hevia, Terence Trent-Darby, Cranberries, and Randy Crawford. The concert was broadcast by Canale 5. The tenores were also guests in the telecast Quelli che il calcio, on Italian national TV RAI Tre.

On September of 2003, the group collaborated with Hevia, the famous Spanish bagpiper from Asturias, who invited the Sardinian group to his concert in Avilés (Spain) to open his winter tour. In the same month, Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira” received an award from the Maria Carta Foundation.

On November of 2003, the singers participated in the Festival Europalia as representatives of Italian popular music.

Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira” works carefully to preserve Sardinian tradition by teaching courses at schools and merging this traditional form of singing with other musical genres, such as classical music.

The performances last an hour and the repertoire is made of profane and sacred tracks, preceded by an explanation about their origins and meaning. The group consists of five members who wear the traditional costume and sing a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment).


Romanzesu (Amori, 1993)
Intonos (Robi Droli, 1994)
Ammentos (Robi Droli, 1996)
S’amore ‘E Mama (Real World Records, 1996)
Tenores di Bitti (Frorias, 1999)
The New Village (Il Manifesto, 2007)
Cunzertos (2013)


Artist Profiles: Tenore “S. Gavino” Oniferi

Tenore “S. Gavino” Oniferi

The canto a tenore, typical from Barbagia region in the center of Sardinia, is a male polyphonic vocal style with a great charm, one of the highest expression of the vocal art in the Mediterranean area.

Immediately it sounds primitive and strong. It is not a chance that many scholars thought that this way of singing originated in the prehistoric ages by imitating the nature sounds: the four voices echo the ox bellows, the sheep bleating, the wind whistling and hissing. The origin is still mysterious, but for sure this is a millennia form of art.

Four are the voices: boghe (the soloist), mesa-oche, contra, bassu. The lead voice (boghe) sings the main melody and stands the song, while the other three voices are rhythmic accompaniment characterized by non-sense syllables. Performing this accompaniment the singers use a guttural emission of the voice, which surprisingly shows many analogies with the primitive vocal music of Oceania and Africa. Using this guttural timbre and particular tuning jumps, tenores can sing an enormous repertoire: muttos, ottave, battorinas, terzine, dances and improvised rhymes. The very peculiar harmony and poetic texts, the guttural voices and the characteristic tuning jumps make immediately recognizable this particular way of singing.

The Tenore “S. Gavino” from Oniferi is considered by music fans and ethno-musicologists the most prominent example of this vocal art. There are many points that make them so special: the canto a tenore is still well alive in Sardinia performed by many groups, most of them are old singers performing traditional texts. Their young age and the fact that three of them are brothers, is a first approach to notice how their sound, harsh and ancestral, is in fact very homogeneous. Their perfect tuning and their powerful sound is very rare today, because this skill needs years of practice and passion to be performed at its best. And in this sense Oniferi are the best young heir of the tradition and one of the very few promises for the future of this vocal marvel.

In the last years they’ve been touring extensively Europe (France in particular, where their CD Su Banzigu sold more than 2000 copies), the USA and Taiwan where they guested in a festival about traditional polyphony.

Another matter to be pointed is their accuracy in choosing lyrics this makes Onferi the foremost group in the new-traditional scene in Sardinia. Their texts are often oriented to contemporary arguments : social and working troubles, drug abuse, sex, today’s life difficulties, ironic and funny stories, some “philosophical” consideration about life…and sweet rhymes about love.

Both in dancing (lestru, dillu, passu torrau, ballu thoppu) and slow (boche seria, boch’e notte) forms, the lyrics, by famous poets such as Montanaru or from unknown contemporary authors, make the repertoire of Tenore S. Gavino an important vehicle of literary transmission. The oral transmission of poetry is another important point in Sardinian traditional culture from centuries, as well as the skill of improvising lyrics.


E Prite Totto Custu (Felmay, 2006)
Su Banzigu


Artist Profiles: Spaccanapoli


Spaccanapoli comes from the streets of Naples, full of vibrant energy, impassioned vocals and wild abandon. The band sings modern protest songs from ancient roots. “One by one we die – all because of the bosses!”This defiant line isn’t sung at some socialist youth rally, but rather an informal gathering of automotive workers near Naples.

These age-old gatherings where people sing, perform street theater, tell stories and entertain their peers have been an outlet for the working people to express their troubles and ease their pain.

Spaccanapoli grew out E Zezi, the original gruppo operaio (socialist workers collective) of automotive workers in their native Naples.

Formed in 1974, E Zezi has consisted of over 100 singers, musicians, and dancers set out to express the cruelties of capitalism and the insensitivity of their corrupt bosses.

What began as a group of dedicated locals making music of the people, by the people, and for the people has gradually mutated into an internationally renowned cultural troupe who have been in much demand on the festival circuit. An old street of Greek origin in the center of-Naples, “Spaccanapoli” (meaning “split Naples”) embodies the soul of their city – in spite of being reduced to a stop-off on the tourist trail, it still retains the vital, irrepressible spark of authentic folk expression.

On Lost Souls, Spaccanapoli perform songs about political protest, beautiful girls, spirits, goblins, carnival, magic, and the beloved Mt. Vesuvius – emblem of the region and its explosive soul.

Pulsing drums and impassioned vocals entwine with the wild dances of the “tarantella” (ancient solo dance of possession) and “tammurriata” (a dance performed in couples within a circle of people to the steady rhythm of the tammorra drum).

The lineup in 2000 featured Monica Pinto (lead vocals), Marcello Colasurdo (lead vocals, tammorra), Antonio Fraioli (violin, piano, percussion), Oscar Montalbano (acoustic guitar, bass), Emilio De Matteo (acoustic and electric guitars).


Aneme Perze – Lost Souls (Real World Records, 2000)
Janus (2009)


Artist Profiles: Radiodervish


The music of the Radiodervish (from the Persian dar and wish: visitors of doors) was born from the meeting between Palestinian musician Nabil and Italian artist Michele. Two lives, two worlds that virtually are thousands and that relate mutually and do not fear to be contaminated. Nabil and Michele live on the frontier, seeking roads and bridges between the East and the West. They explore the no man’s land, the border and the space that unifies and separates at the same time. They tell the story of a world which exists and which is self-sufficient. They tell the story of interior journeys set out by men and women who belong to different spaces, cultures and times. They tell the story of hidden but always vital paths whose trails are symbols and myths that permeate the cultures which they belong to. Biblical and Sufi symbolism, earthly loves and mystic nostalgia sung in Italian, in Arabic, in English and in French with a marked sense of melody joined by the sonority that is rooted in both the Western culture and the Arabic tradition.

Michele and Nabil meet in the mid-1980s in the city of Bari (southern Italy) where they visited university circles, studying respectively Philosophy and Engineering. In June 1980 they founded the Al Darawish and immediately made a name for themselves as one of the most important groups on the Italian world music scene. They received a very good response from both the public and the critics. They produced two albums and played more than 300 concerts.

In 1997 Nabil and Michele bring to an end their experience with Al Darawish and founded the new Radiodervish. In 1998 they signed a record contract with Giovanni Lindo Ferretti &Massimo Zamboni’s I Dischi del Mulo. In July at the apartments of the Castello Episcopio in Grottaglie (South Italy) they produced their first album under Radiodervish: Lingua contro Lingua (Dischi del Mulo/PolyGram), in collaboration with the artistic production of Fabio Recupero and Mauro Andreolli. The album was presented at the Salone della Musica in Turin and won the Premio Ciampi as the best record debut of the year. In January of 1999 the Lingua contro Lingua tour began.

During this period, Radiodervish made many contacts with artists from the Middle East, like Rim Banna, Amal Morkus and Israeli singer Noa.

At the end of 1999 a new collaboration with Italian artist Lorenzo Cherubini (Jovanotti) began. For his music video Stella Cometa, Nabil was asked to translate into Arabic a part of the song and to sing it. In July 2000 a new Jovanotti’s single Dolcefareniente was published. It contained the medley version of the Stella Cometa sung by Nabil and Jovanotti and the Arabic version sung uniquely by Nabil.

The same year the friendship between Nabil and Noa became more solid and was made important by the delicate political situation in the Middle East. In July 2000 the town council of Melpignano (in the Province of Lecce) granted to both the singers the Honorary Citizenship for the common engagement for peace. In December they received from the United Nations an invitation to sing together in the Duomo of Monreale (Palermo) in front of the Heads of States. The orchestra that accompanied them was directed by Maestro Nicola Piovani (author of the R. Benigni’s soundtrack La Vita è bella).

In 2001 Radiodervish produced a new presentation in which for the first time they collected their repertoire in an “acoustic version”. The new album called In Acustico gave way to a tour linked to a particular project of raising funds for the international association Salaam Ragazzi dell’Olivo which operates for Palestinian children in the Al Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron – West Bank.

In March 2001 in the La Vallisa, an Old Church in Bari, a live concert was held. Its songs and pictures became the material for a new CD-ROM.

Radiodervish played at the Fete de la Musique in Beirut on June 21st, 2001. They were accompanied by film director Marco Preti, who prepared a documentary about their days in Lebanon, and by a journalist, Massimo Zamboni who wrote about this experience on the Diario.

On January 5th, 2002, during the annual Epiphany Concert, in the Monastero Santa Chiara in Naples, Nabil sang with Noa the Centro del mundo, composed and written by Nabil and Michele. The event was broadcast by the National Italian TV (RAI).

In May of 2002 Radiodervish took part in the traditional Labor Day concert in Brussels dedicated to Middle Eastern peace development. On the same theme, the band performed that same month at the Coloseum’s concert in Rome “Centro del mundo” once again with Noa.

To promote its 2002 album, Radiodervish started a promotional tour in July, while at the same it worked on a special project with the Arab-Israeli Orchestra of Nazareth for the Negroamaro festival in south Italy: songs from Arabic traditional music performed on the same stage together with some of the most famous songs of the band.


Lingua contro lingua (Dischi del Mulo/PolyGram), 1998)
In acustico (2001)
Centro Del Mundo ‎(Il Manifesto, 2002)
In Search Of Simurgh (Il Manifesto, 2004)
Amara Terra Mia (Radio Fandango, 2006)
L’Immagine Di Te ‎(Radio Fandango, 2007)
Beyond The Sea (Il Manifesto, 2009)
Bandervish (Il Manifesto, 2010)
Dal Pesce Alla Luna (Sony Music, 2012)
Human ‎(Sony Music, 2013)
Café Jerusalem (Cosmasola, 2015)
Il Sangre E Il Sal ‎(Cosmasola, 2018)