More than an album, this magnificent meeting of minds and styles, performed by two virtuosi musicians, also represents a project.
A proposed 70 day, 4000 km bike tour across Europe starts from Luca’s native Benevento in the south of Italy, and reaches Norway in time to play an album release gig at the International Oslo Jazz Festival. This epic journey’s mission is to spread the message of the UNESCO campaign to defend world heritage from ‘extremism and radicalization’. The eye-catching, masterly CD cover art depicts a minimalistic bicycle, created by the renowned Italian sculptor, painter and printmaker, Mimmo Paladino.
Both Luca and accordionist, Carmine Ioanna use special effects in several tracks, lending an ethereal quality to their overall sound. Such effects are used subtly, unobtrusively and help create a remarkably contemporary feel to the music, in stark contrast to the folk-like, naked authenticity of La danza delle cicogne (Dance of the storks).
Each of the nine tracks feels like a complete story, full of unanticipated twists and turns (which is undoubtedly also true of the road trip itself). Giampiero Franco adds extremely sensitive and supportive percussion on two tracks, such as Lei (Aznavour’s, She) where Luca’s horn, drenched in rich reverb, might suggest musings of Miles. His beautiful-sounding (overdubbed) horn offering a home for solitude and reflection.
The overiding message of Aqustico, a most special musical and physical marathon is: ‘wheels, not walls’. It is about communication. Eerily, I found myself ‘listening’ to several minutes silence following the final, ultra-reflective track, Blue Sky. This album is beautifully conceived, performed and produced. Musically invigorating – with lungfuls of fresh air, from Benevento to Oslo.