Personnel: Alessandra Belloni (vocals, mezzo soprano, drums, bodhran, castanets, tambourine); Olivier Marcaud (tenor, tenor saxophone, percussion, background vocals); John La Barbera (acoustic guitar, classical guitar, chitarrone, mandola, mandolin, saz); Mauro Refosco (berimbau, balafon, frame drum, dumbek, pandeiro, timbales, percussion, bells); Joe Deninzon (violin, harmonica); Steve Gorn (bansuri, clarinet, saxophone); Emmanuel Mann (bass guitar).
Liner Note Author: Alessandra Belloni.
Recording information: Tom Tedesco Studios, NJ (07/2002).
Photographer: Flavio Franzoni.
Unknown Contributor Role: Mauro Refosco.
Arrangers: John La Barbera; Alessandra Belloni.
Few have immersed themselves more deeply in the Southern Italian dance called the tarantella than Alessandra Belloni. She's a masterful, passionate singer and an expert of frame drums and tambourines, and she's perfectly matched by the musicians she's gathered around her, with Jon Deninzon on violin a particular standout (listen to his work on "Tarantella Di Ogliastro"). The mix of (mostly) traditional songs and chants along with Belloni originals is rich and fiery, with nothing held back in performance. On the slower material -- the lullaby "Nia Nia," for example -- there's a lovely depth to her singing, which is also evident on the gorgeous love song "La Rusciu Di Lu Mari," whose cadences could almost be Celtic. Belloni's "Palomma D'Ammore" has a decidedly more modern sound, working around a riff on bass guitar that initially seems at odds with the rest of the album. But it works as the other instruments appear, although it lacks the form of the traditional material. On the basis of this and her previous work, Belloni is a major folk artist, although she perhaps sees herself as working more within the healing and spiritual powers of the tarantella (which is certainly a part of what she does). And she's produced yet another powerful disc here. ~ Chris Nickson