Daniele D’Agaro Adriatics Orchestra | Mountains, Love & Humour

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The second Artesuono’s album of great Italian music of which I want to speak is a project by Daniele D’Agaro Adriatics Orchestra. Its meaning is in the title: Mountains, Love & Humour and is a live album recorded during the "The sounds of mountains" festival held in Comeglians (northern Italy). The band features nine performers. The tireless D’Agaro and Ottolini, Tobias Delius on clarinet and tenor sax, Sean Bergin on soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, concertina, flutes and voice. Davide Guidoni on trumpet and flugelhorn, Saverio Tasca on marimba, balafon and percussions, Bruno Marini on organ, Stefano Senni on bass and Han Bennink on drums, and other five elements who play only in some tracks and are Alessandro Turchet on bass, Denis Biason on banjo, Wolter Wierbos on trombone, Ousmane Bangura on kongomà and Naby Kamarà on djembè. The performance is rich and articulated and can be described as a kaleidoscope of cultures and traditions that disrobe their boundaries and merge into a galaxy of expressions where the undisputable technical skills of the performers blend in. Refinement and originality come from organ and the instruments of the African and South American tradition with their vocation to contaminate.


Kilwa, D'Agaro's long suite, opens like a big band and then leaves the stage to a lounge organ that alternates its notes with the improvisations of winds and marimba. Everything dances on the unrestrained but learned rhythms of Bennink's drum set, in a pulsing harmony with Senni's bass. Portrait of Two Shepherds, signed by Bergin/Bennink, recreates a rural mood scanned by percussions and flutes, with tweets, noises and indefinite voices. In Nediska Fara the organ bursts into with a gospel style. Then comes the brasses with a traditional air of the river valleys. My Donkey Has Long Ears, by D’Agaro, has a strong ethnic taste with the banjo peering out between the winds and the Afro percussions. Marimbas and balafon complete the improvisation spaces where the crazy saxophones jumps in. Ottolini's Otto’s (cara) van is extreme creativity for five minutes of wild rhythms. Two pieces by D'Agaro follow: Long Armed Woman, a more relaxed track with some melody hints and Let’s Have Another One, with center American rhythms. In Rotie, the genious of Sean Bergin is exalted. The Afro attack is followed by an hypnotic crescendo of winds, banjo and marimba with amazing solos. At half track there is a violent irruption of the organ while drums and bass roll through groove. The sound becomes hysterical before recomposing on the theme in a choral end. In Don’t Pretend explodes all the energy of the South African tradition inside an instrumental merriment which hints at the theme of The lion sleeps tonight. After a very experimental Bergin's track, Family’s Ties, full of cries, noises and instruments that seem inebriated, there is Booker T, where Marini expresses his full rhythm & blues mood infecting all the other performers. It is very hard to stand still, believe me! The last track is another piece by Daniele D’Agaro, Fonkitong, strongly characterized by the presence of kongomà and jembè.


The album is an endless turmoil, stimulating, full of ideas, adventurous and distinctive. The listener is hypnotized and wrapped by the dynamics that are sometimes impetuous, then sweet, with an unpredictable, theatric, polyrhythmic, rolling drumming and with the big family of the instruments that is brave in the unexplored zones of music. However, one the peculiar aspects of the performance is having fun. Every transition is humoristic and the audience, deeply involved, applauds back with enthusiasm.


These two jewels, although different, are extremely suggestive. They are not easy to get, so they need many listening sessions to be metabolized. The artistic value is very high with some masterpieces and the recording is of extra quality. Both in studio and in concert the rigor of the live element is absolute. In a sound magma, so polyhedral and multifaceted, every instrument is a protagonist and, most of all, real. The clarinet sounds like a woodwind, the woodwinds like brasses, the peel and the strings are vibrant and the real dynamics is given back without any coloration, with full respect of spatiality, distances and silence zones.

Although recorded on digital support, there is no listening fatigue and it can be profitably used as CD test for your own system. If you will find some faults is not the recording...believe me!



Daniele D’Agaro Adriatics Orchestra

Mountains, love & humour



Total time 75’20’’


by Giuseppe
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