CD "Splendida Luce"
In a country that sees its own talents follow the way of Frank Sinatra and Barry White while ignoring the talent of Boris Savoldelli, here is the huge and pleasant surprise of a Catanese who lives in New York. Guitar player, interpreter and composer Barbagallo is, above all, an imaginative performer who shares the writing of his lyrics with Gaetano Messina and uses his guitar to support his extremely unique voice: raucous, filled with strong "chiaroscuro" traits, and melancholic; is able to swing, to tell a story, to improvise and express himself in English as well as in Portuguese and Italian. "Splendida Luce" is the portrait of an authentic jazz singer who uses his voice as an instrument and knows jazz, not only the vocal side of it, as he demonstrates the hard choice of a balanced repertoire of rare modern jazz standards by Mingus, La Faro, Lins, and Nascimento, and Barbagallo's original songs.
The record "Splendida Luce" highlights perfectly the three equally important aspects that characterize the music of Antonio Barbagallo: the author, singer, and the guitarist.
The voice presents some harmonic qualities that beautifully melds with the sound context of the band, becoming like an instrument among the instruments,and characterizes classic evergreens like "Gloria's Step"or the Mingusian ballad "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"and original songs like"Canzone del Musico Colto" or "Si Fa Sera," written with emphasis on several rhythm changes exploring for elegant and valuable melodies. Impressive rhythm and solo guitar parts match high standards of both beauty and melodicism like, for example, "Vera Cruz" where a very relaxed diction, slightly behind the tempo, emerges in a still groovy solo.
The Splendid Light of Antonio Barbagallo
Catanese singer Antonio Barbagallo brings us a fresh and intelligent offering with his new record for Koine. In this work the Sicilian vocalist writes with exquisite finesse. "Splendida Luce" shows that Barbagallo has a significant artistic versatility as well as a good sensibility that characterize his work as a high level product. What is most surprising is his ability to write meaningful lyrics as well as open, intelligent and refreshing arrangements, adapting his extremely unique voice's qualities to the pentagramma and conducting them to converge toward a unique flow.
Characterized by a stylistically classical jazz language, the structure of the album is largely inspired by the New York jazz environment (the city where he actually lives) and by the influences of bossa nova as well as the calypso atmospheres of the Caribbean ("Havana's Short Story" and "Searching for Freedom." This last one is composed by his father Rosario, also a musician.)
With the record's opening song, "Canzone del Musico Colto," we can start to discover the main features of A.B.'s original singing style. His spoken and irregular attacks, and the use of unusual intervals bring us back to the golden era of jazz singing of Armstrong and Sinatra, but Barbagallo's stylistic exploration reaches far beyond the more open harmonic fields and the forms of the contemporary jazz style. The modern Brazilian jazz standard, "Vera Cruz," features Barbagallo's dynamic rhythmic approach with his beautiful guitar solo.
The band contributes greatly to the success of the record, especially the versatile and virtuosic pianist Craig Hartley with his harmonic skills and those soft staccato movements; the expert trumpeter Fabio Morgera performing on his own original composition,"Si Fa Sera;" or in the interplay with sax-man Stacy Dillard in the 8-bar blues "Monk-ette." The result is a highly sophisticated and tasteful CD, "Splendida Luce," with a sensitive expression in which heterogeneous musical languages converge in a natural way.
The elegant texture of the record as well as Barbagallo's wide range of melodic approaches transforms this work into a vehicle that has the power to reach out to a larger audience than just the restricted niche of jazz fans.
Once again Koine, a Dodicilune label, distinguishes itself with its predilection of extremely sophisticated scenarios. And now new male voices appear at the horizon of the label with always the right A&R choices. Antonio Barbagallo lives and works in New York and has been developing a variety of style combinations that qualify his artistry with a highly intellectual connotation. We can find the African-American style in "Gloria's Step," "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," or in "Portrait." But the unmistakable character of this artist is manifested in the particular way he uses his voice that designs spirals of colors at times relaxed, a little retro, if you want, but always balanced and coherent in his eclectic style. A soft coming-about towards the atmosphere of Brazilian jazz with Portuguese lyrics is "Comecar de Novo," while in "Canzone del Musico Colto"(the opening song), "Si Fa Sera," and "Splendida Luce" a typical "Italian style" emerges. This Italian style that seems to be the the very distinguished signature of the Koine label is well represented by Barbagallo's playful voice effects, the harmonic modulations of his compositions, and the ability to research really unusual intervals and results, in the end, in an extremely original sound and almost "chamber" style when his Italian cantato and the New York jazz idiom are integrated. Barbagallo's activity as songwriter must be taken under consideration also as well as the great contribution to the work by Gaetano Messina. Finally, Barbagallo 's efforts in this valuable work show us the complete ultimate range of his wide and multifaceted artistry.
The downtown atmosphere of the Big Apple has probably influenced the12 tracks of "Splendida Luce," the latest record by singer and guitar player, Antonio Barbagallo. "Splendida Luce" is a very interesting album especially because of the variety of styles present. His repertoire, for example, represents a tribute to some of the American continent's musical tradition and atmospheres, from Brazilian and Caribbean contemporary music, to the classic modern jazz standards. Barbagallo's interpretation of the modern jazz Mingusian songs "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"and "Portrait," as well as his bossa nova repertoire, beside his original compositions yield very passionate results. In the album's diversity Barbagallo allows his voice to take the lead while his guitar represents that "extra touch" that defines his musical portrait tout court. The remarkable interplay of Barbagallo with the other members of the band Chris Brown on drums and bassist Ugonna Okegwo who both excel at timing and elegance, while Craig Hartley's keyboards draw imaginary colorful trips, with Fabio Morgera on trumpet and Stacy Dillard on tenor sax completing the job with their exciting musical dialogues.
On this record Barbagallo is like a young hero who embarks on a very exotic musical trip, along with his 5 musical friends, that bring him from the green metropolitan meadows of Central Park to some mysterious sunny islands of the south sea to discover new musical worlds but with the desire all the time to come back home. Meanwhile, in the pauses of these swinging little adventures, the listener can enjoy the new musical landscapes getting ready to free again the horizon of his imagination for another trip.
Roberta on the Arts
This CD, a contemporary mix of brass, vocals, guitar, piano, bass, and drums, has a refreshing, original quality. The Italian and English lyrics never overtake the lively, brisk tones that vary from track to track, as the trumpet, sax, or piano are featured. Each track includes a seasoned instrumental solo, and Barbagallo adds his nimble guitar improvisations and vivacious vocals as well.
#5 Si fa Sera Composed by Fabio Morgera. Drums and muted trumpet open this track with an urban midnight sound, before Barbagallos quiet, understated Italian lyrics. Fabio Morgera and Craig Hartley keep the music seamlessly interesting and poignant.
#6 Splendida Luce Composed by Antonio Barbagallo. Hartleys piano and Chris Browns drums carry the rhythms, as Barbagallo delivers Italian lyrics in the hint of scat. This is a pleasant, uncluttered composition, with varying percussive and vocal tempos.
#7 Portrait Composed by Charlie Mingus. This track features Stacy Dillard on an impressive sax riff, with bass, piano, and drums accompanying Barbagallos English lyrics. The arrangement offers a cool, collected approach to the Mingus piece.
#11 Lonely People Composed by Antonio Barbagallo. Barbagallo doubles on guitar and vocals for this original track, with Stacy Dillard highlighted on tenor sax. The guitar passages are melodic and engaging, while Ugonna Okegwo has been busy on rich bass backup throughout the recording.
Barbagallo's vocal sound on his new record "Splendida Luce" appears to be perfectly integrated with the rest of the band and he is able to explore in the cracks of his very often-angular repertoire. A.B. definitely shows to have very well assimilated the lessons of the great interpreters of the African-American tradition. Excellent is his choice and the contribution of the band members to the success of this record.