Friday, June 1, 2007
Pino Daniele's Odyssey
In a review on Rai.it (Radiotelevisione Italiana) last February of Pino Daniele's latest album, he was called the standard bearer of the “Neapolitan Sound” -- described as a mix of blues, rock, jazz, and traditional Naples music. The album, Il mio nome è Pino Daniele e vivo qui (My name is Pino Daniele and I live here), is the 27th in a career spanning thirty years. The song Back Home was the first single released from the album.
One of Italy's most famous and respected contemporary musicians, Daniele also is highly regarded on the music scene worldwide. Among the non-Italian performers he has collaborated with, are the legendary Richie Havens and Chick Corea, and the rock band Simple Minds.
Notes about Daniele's latest album on his official website describe the collection as a condensing of his entire musical being, career and collaborations.
“The roads he has traveled have created a unique path, that from time to time has carried him far from his own roots in order to then return to them with a little piece of new luggage: Neapolitan music, blues, jazz, fusion, Arab and African, rock and roll, pop, Caribbean and Cuban traditions, Hip Hop and electronic, ethnic, and Latin...”
Though Daniele is not a household name in the U.S., the music of his roots certainly has such familiarity. I remember a childhood crush I had on the popular, crooning Dean Martin who included Neapolitan songs in his repertoire. Some Americans still may think of the Neapolitan songs – 'O Sole Mio, Santa Lucia, and Funiculì, funiculà, as three familiar examples – to be the music of Italy. Or simply prefer to for reasons of nostalgia. Daniele, however, is praised for preserving the best of the old as he keeps pace with the new. His master touch at blending musical influences is on display in the 2001 release Mareluna, a serenade to a fleeting love affair, the enduring sea, and the glow of moonlight.
But even for those who prefer to leave the past and its contents entirely behind them, there is one old song that even they usually can't resist. When mentioned, it may at first bring a groan but after a few notes, the music's magic does its work. A hum rises in the throat and a smile curves the lips. Don't believe me? Just listen to 'O Sole Mio and watch what happens.
by Rebecca Helm-Ropelato
Copyright © Rebecca Helm-Ropelato