While the official genre is labeled as "World" the latest from vocalist Joe Barbieri has been released this spring in Italy and will make its U.S. debut in August and is certainly well worth the wait. Barbieri's musical stock has been on a steady climb in Italy winning over a legion of fans and the respect of his contemporaries at the same time and with little wonder.
Respiro is a delightful mixed bag or hybrid of a myriad of styles running from the bright and breezy bossa nova to a smooth contemporary style that while lacking an overt commercial appeal has obvious cross over possibilities in numerous markets if given the chance since a deceptively subtle pop style is undeniable and all with amazing jazz sensibilities. Make no mistake, this is a romance album brimming with elegance and sophistication that might draw the same U.S. comparison to a Michael Buble. While artistic frames of references especially between cultures is inherently unfair, you get the idea of the type of talent we are referring to here.
One of the more captivating aspects of Barbieri's tunes despite my obvious handicap of not speaking a word of Italian or French (suitable for publication) is that there is an amazing cinematic type quality in several tunes that one might find in the appropriate film world. First call musicians are the rule on this session. Pianist Antonio Fresa, double bassist Giacomo Pedicini, drummer Sergio Di Natale, vibraphone player Pasquale Bardaro, guitarists Oscar Montalbano & Tony Canto and the list goes on. Six of the tracks include strings and a great deal of the credit of the stellar sound of this release goes to the stunning arrangements of Antonio Fresa. The musicians, the arrangements as well as the perfect selection of tunes all play to the vocal strengths of Barbieri and fit perfectly in his vocal wheelhouse. Having recorded Respiro in Barbieri's apartment great care was given and the attention to detail in recording paid off. One of my greatest pet peeves in the more contemporary recording here in the United States is the over use of compression which essentially is the equivalent of running the music through a sonic soul press thus sanitizing any and all emotive quality for your protection. Respiro is given the freedom to develop its own unique and charming organic pulse.
Respiro is an organic five star delight with an intoxicating ebb and flow that transcends language barriers and is literally flawless down to the last detail. From the acoustic and slightly more popular oriented opening track Zenzero e cannella to the bright and breezy bossa oriented Diamoci del tu which immediately brings to mind the American phrase of "cocktail jazz" all the musical stars were in perfect alignment for this delightful release. If you have ever doubted the phrase music is the universal language then you need to listen to this vibrant release that transcends language and musical barriers alike.
Tracks: Zenzero e cannella; Scusami; Diamoci del tu; Un regno da disfare; Sostanza e forma; E vase annure; Le milonghe del sabato; Diaro di una caduta; Etape par etape par etape; Come una casa; Il balconcino del quinto piano.