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The Sicilian Jazz Project by Michael Occhipinti

Michael Occhipinti is a Canadian guitarist, band leader and composer. His roots are Italian - specifically Sicilian. He pays tribute to his heritage with The Sicilian Jazz Project, a project that finds him leading a sextet through nine traditional Sicilian folk songs with contemporary arrangements. This is not a wedding band, nor is it a band that will appeal to someone looking for the nostalgia of Italian folk songs. The folk songs on this recording typically wind out with electric guitar flashes of brilliance, soothing saxophone and trumpet sparks of high sonic altitude. The Sicilian Jazz Project is made up of music that lends itself to those who appreciate tradition but enjoy the advances of contemporary music.

The song "Nun ti lassu" is a traditional number that will appeal to anyone looking for the nostalgia of Italian tradition. The string section in accompaniment, the arrangements and the strong vocals by Domenic Mancuso paint a portrait of Italy that is very moving. Picture a scene from the Godfather, the music by Rota, a panorama of the Italian countryside, vineyards, small towns with outstanding architecture, especially the churches. The singer cries out ‘Nun ti lassu bidduzza, nun ti lassu’ - I won’t leave you my darling, I won’t leave you. Acoustic guitar takes the lead and copies the vocalist’s sentiment, a sad refrain, a touching interpretation.

Contemporary sounding tunes with Sicilian flare include, "Jolla" an accordion intro fires the tune up with jazz passion. An old folk song "The Ribbon Dancers" an improvisers waltz fit for trumpet, guitar and saxophone. The CD concludes with "Nnuena" a song that sounds more world than Sicilian inspired. A beautiful flute pattern is the high light of the song.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Michael Occhipinti
  • CD Title: The Sicilian Jazz Project
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: True North Records
  • Tracks: The Almond Sorters, Ciuri ciuri, Vitti ‘na crozza, Jolla, Nun ti lassu, Cantu ri li scugghitura, The Sulphur Miner, The ribbon dancers, Nnuena
  • Musicians: Michael Occhipinti (guitar), Roberto Occhipinti (bass), Barry Romberg (drums), Louis Simao (accordion), Ernie Tollar (saxophone & flute), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), Domenic Mancuso, Maryem Tollar (vocals), Hugh Marsh, Annalee Patipatankoon, Lynn Kuo (violin), Kathleen Kajioka (viola), Roman Borys (cello), Rick Lazar (percussion), Levon Ichkhanian (oud)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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