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FARAUALLA by farualla
The drums pound and then... is it music? are they voices? This acapella is done so beautifully that you can't distinguish between the two. The sound is so light and uplifting that if you close your eyes you're almost floating on Faraualla's throaty breath. When I played this CD I quizzed my husband to guess what language or dialect they were singing the second song on this CD "Rumelaj." He was sure that it was Southern Italian "perhaps from Naples"? They sing some songs in Italian, some in made-up languages, and the rest smattering from around the world. "Rumelaj", by the way, was sung in Hungarian. This CD is a beautiful collection of acapella world music that pushes sound to an art form. Follow the link above and listen to some of the sound samples... you won't be disappointed. (by Laura Pazzaglia)

Nova Stella: A Medieval Italian Christmas, Altramar
Christmas, 1223 ... a hermit's cave in Italy. The torchlight reveals a Nativity scene, complete with the manger crib, and actors playing the roles of all the participants. Among those present... Francis of Assisi, who planned the whole event in order to see "with human eyes" the scene as it was at Christ's birth: the hay, the candlelight, the animals, the manger. By listening to this CD you'll be there too. My favorites tunes are Stella nuova and Laudata Sempre Sia which transport you to hall filled with lutes and tambourines. As you read about Altramar in the informative CD insert you'll realize that you're listening to historically accurate 13th century instruments. Also included are the lyrics to all the songs in the original Latin or Italian with English translations. (by Laura Pazzaglia)

Aneme Perze, Spaccanapoli
The formerly dangerous yet lively area of Naples, Italy, called Spaccanapoli no longer exists except as a gentrified shopping area, but its name lives on as Spaccanapoli, the five-piece Neopolitan band who have just released Aneme Perze ("Lost Souls" in Neopolitan). They take their own approach to political music. "One by one we die � all because of the bosses!" goes one song. The roots-oriented ensemble sings tunes such as "Sant' Anastasia" (RealAudio excerpt) in the local Neopolitan dialect, accompanied by stringed instruments and percussion. A major component of their style is the regional tradition of the tarantella, a wild and ancient possession dance. Spaccanapoli resuscitate the tarantella's glory in songs such as "Pummarola Black". Spaccanapoli also revive the sensual tammurriata, originally a dance for couples wherein the dancers beat out the rhythm with castanets � the left hand for the woman, the right hand for the man � to demonstrate the equality of their relationships. Listen to excerpts from Sant'Anastasia and Pummarola Black.

Ridillove, Ridillo
By chance I bought their 2nd album "Ridillove" because I love most Italian bands. I especially love "Mangio Amore". Anyway, although they characterize themselves as "Spaghetti funk" group, they play various rhythms and their music creates a cariety of atmospheres. Until I got to know Ridillo and their music I was convinced that I didn't like funky music. What I like most, is the sexy voice of the vocalist, chorus etc. There isn't a single boring song in the ablum. You haven't heard Funk music until you've heard it come from Ridillo. I can't think of another Italian artist that even comes close as far as variety.

Gran Calma,Pitura Freska
The 'UB40' of Italy, Pitura Freska (Fresh Paint) has been bringing the sound Italian Ska to relaxed listners since 1989. What's even more interesting about this band, is that it's Italian dread-locked members sing in the Northern Italian "Veneto" dialect. For example, where in Italian you would say "avevo un pesce" (I had a fish), in the Vento dialect it's said "gavevo un pesse" -- this dialect lends itself surpisingly well to ska. This laid-back music is perfect for listening on a hot summer day, or during your Italian Barbecue! My favorite song, from this album is "Ridicoli" (Ridiculous), because of it's festive reggae sound and the Bob Marley-esqe "Cosa Mai Sara'" (Whatever will be, will be). However, young Italian ears should be shielded from the occasional Italian curse on this album. For a closer look at this unique band, take a peek at the Pitura Freska Official Website. (by Laura Pazzaglia)

The Best Of Paolo Conte , by Paolo Conte
Paolo Conte is a completely original talent, and his leathery, life-weary face on the cover is the first clue to the evocative music of this poet, painter, musician, and lawyer from Asti in northern Italy. Observations on the tide of human existence deftly rendered in vividly poetic lines that startle with their originality are highlighted in smoky vignettes of 40s jazz- and tango-inflected tunes, teetering between Cabaret, The Circus, and 42nd Street. Conte's unfiltered raspy voice is the perfect vehicle for his poignant view of the foibles of adult life mused from the corner barstool, admiring women whose "pungent smells [beckon] him like an old-fashioned grocery, its doors flung open to the spring outside." The music is a treat in itself, but the real gold is to be found in his lyrics, and luckily translations are in the liner notes. (by Derek Rath) .

Per Amore, Zizi Possi
This collection of traditional folk and old Italian favorites will expose you to the passion of Italy -- as does Zizi's voice. She opens with "Lacreme Napulitane" (Neapolitan Tears), the title and the song are in Neapolitan dialect. If you're not familiar with dialects from Southern Italy you'll note that some sounds like "ch" (as in chiken) are pronounced as "sh" (as in shadow) -- this simple difference creates the effect that the words are delicately slipping from the singer's mouth. Although Zizi is a Brazilian artist, she reaches to the dusty streets of Naples --from which her parents came-- to her Italian roots. I highly recommend that she serenade you and your sweetie over a candlelit dinner.
Want to learn more about her? Well... unfortunately her official website is in Spanish!

Leda Battisti, Leda Battisti and Ottmar Liebert
Can Lucio Battisti's cousin make her own name? In Leda's debut album you'll hear an intoxicating mix of Ottmar's Flamenco guitar and Leda's sweet voice. Ottmar Liebert, the German ex-patriot already famous for his flamenco guitar-work, adds a surreal touch that makes this album worth recommending! The opening song, L'Aqua al Deserto, has been the rage of Italy for months as the chorus and rhythm are catchy; Fuoco is passionate and romantic; the rest, you'll just have to hear for yourself!
Ottmar Liebert has his own web site,, but if you're captured by his music you'll want to add his two-cd set, Opium, to your collection .(by Laura Pazzaglia)

Serenata Italiana, Al Fabrizio
Lovely romantic favorites played with mandolin and guitar in the Neopolitan style. It is the perfect blend for pasta, wine and candles. Many familiar song but played in a way that you want to hear over and over. It captures all the warm memories of Italy and childhood memories for those born of Italian parents and anyone who loves romantic music full of soulful expression and happy at the same time. I heard Al Fabrizio play at the Niebaum- Coppola Estate Winery. "Santa Lucia", "Non ti scordar di me" "Come back to Sorrento" and many other favorites. Heartstrings Music produced the CD which celebrates the mandolin of the artist in the unique tremolo style. ([email protected])

Frank Sinatra Christmas Collection, Frank Sinatra
Ths 18-song collection surveys Sinatra's holiday output and its effects are often chilling. Listening to him glide soulfully through Jimmy Webb's melancholy but romantic "What Ever Happened to Christmas?" or hearing him do his immaculate phrasing on "Silent Night" when he was visibly frail and aging in 1991 are close encounters of a Sinatra kind that are rarely captured on one album. There's also a delightful "The Twelve Days of Christmas" sung with his kids Nancy and Frank, Jr., from their 1969 record The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas and insightful and intimate liner notes by James Ritz, not to mention those magical orchestral arrangements. Here's a five-star package to remind us that it's still Frank's world.

More Italian Christmas Tunes:
- Nova Stella: A Medieval Italian Christmas
- Canta Natale
- Notte di Natale, Claudio Baglioni
- Quando verra' Natale, Antonello Venditti


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