3

Barbez: Bella Ciao

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Barbez: Bella Ciao Bella Ciao, the fifth album from Brooklyn art-rock band Barbez, is a homage to both ancient Roman Jewish melodies and the Italian Resistance during the Second World War. Barbez's leader, Dan Kaufman—who recorded one of the most remarkable albums in the history of the Tzadik label, Force of Light (Tzadik, 2007), a profound musical realization of the poems of the late Jewish/German poet Paul Celan—named his current project after the famous partisan anthem. This anthem has been an international symbol of resistance for more than seventy years and is re-imagined here in a stunning interpretation for a new generation.

Kaufman was introduced to the melodies of the Roman Jews, the oldest continuous residents of Rome (whose liturgical music was passed on orally from generation to generation) by musician Yotam Haber. These melodies resist following the East European, Ashkenazi scales or the Mediterranean, Sephardi scales, but have a mysterious quality of their own. Kaufman journeyed to Rome in 2009 to learn more about this unique music, and there he also studied the heroic struggle of the Italian partisans.

As on Force of Light, Kaufman relies on a similar personnel and succeeds in weaving a musical universe that, again, resists confinement by any specific genre, capturing the rare, timeless quality of the ancient melodies. The musical envelope is based on old- world, European folk songs, but dresses them in modern chamber, art- rock, reserved-yet-intense arrangements. These interpretations emphasize the roles of Kaufman, theramin artist Pamelia Kurstin, vibraphonist Danny Tunick, clarinetist Peter Hess and violinist Catherine McRae.

Some of the melodies, such as the dramatic "Yoshev Beseter Elyon," sound as though they are symbolizing the turmoil and chaotic, painful era of the Roman Jewish community during the Second World War. Other ancient melodies, such as "Et Shaare Ratzon" and "Mizmor Leasaf," are arranged as completing the timeless story of defiance, incorporating hypnotic recitations of poems by the great Italian writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, and his contemporary, the poet Alfonso Gatto.

The passionate, driving fury of "Kamti Beashmoret" introduces the powerful title song, sung in Italian by the charismatic Dawn McCarthy of the Faun Fables duo. This song is arranged as an infectious, modern anthem. The song's inspiring lyrics were written by an unknown author, describing a partisan's wish to fight—and die, if need be—so that others may one day be free: "Bury me up in the mountain, under the shadow of a beautiful flower, and the people who will pass by will say to me, 'What a beautiful flower.' This is the flower of the partisan, who died for freedom."

Bella Ciao is a beautiful, inspiring and haunting mosaic of the ancient and the modern, filled with sometimes quiet, other times furious, but always timeless melodies.


Track Listing: Shema Koli; Echa Yasheva Vadad; Yoshev Beseter Elyon; Et Shaare Ratzon; Mizmor Leasaf; Yedid Nefesh; Keter Ittenu ; Kamti Beashmoret; Bella Ciao; Umevi Goel; Channun Kerov Rachamav.

Personnel: Dan Kaufman: guitar; Pamelia Kurstin: theremin; Peter Hess: clarinet; Danny Tunick: marimba, vibraphone, organ, piano; Catherine McRae: violin; Peter Lettre: bass; John Bollinger: drums; Dawn McCarthy: vocals (6, 9); Fiona Templeton: voice (4, 5); Dan Coates: electronics.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Tzadik


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Nuit Blanche" CD/LP/Track Review Nuit Blanche
by John Kelman
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Rings" CD/LP/Track Review Rings
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Muddy Ditch" CD/LP/Track Review Muddy Ditch
by John Eyles
Published: April 7, 2016
Read "Projeto Brasil!" CD/LP/Track Review Projeto Brasil!
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke" CD/LP/Track Review A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!