Italian jazz, world and classical singer Maria Pia De Vito has a penchant for British pianists. Before hooking up with Huw Warren, in the late 1990s/early 2000s she made three albums with John Taylor, including her breakthrough set Phone (Egea, 1998).
For his part, Warren has an affinity with singers. A long-time accompanist and musical director for June Tabor, his other collaborations include the sublime Duw A Wyr (God Only Knows) (Babel, 2005), a collection of Welsh-language hymns adopted by the country's socialist miners in the early 20th century, made with the previously unknown Lleuwen Steffan.
Dialektos is a richly fruitful collaboration between the two musicians, playing as it does to their mutual love of folk roots, energetic rhythms and strong melodies. Its cultural fulcrum is the southern Italian city of Naples, whose popular songs the virtuosic but earthy De Vito has celebrated on previous recordings. Several of these are included on the album, along with original Warren compositions given Neapolitan lyrics by De Vito. Covers of Chico Buarque's "Beatriz" and Hermeto Pascoal's "Ginga Carioca" reflect De Vito's ongoing interest in Brazilian music.
Despite the Neapolitan emphasis, much of the album is sung by De Vito in a mix of scat, vocalese and human beatboxa style which allows her talent for exuberant rhythmic improvisation to flourish unmediated by the need to deliver a lyric. The Brazilian-flavoured "Miguilim," by the Italian pianist Rita Marcotullipreviously recorded by De Vito with John Taylor on Nel Respiro (Provocateur, 2004)is one of several such free-flowing bacchanals.
The generally joyous mood is tempered with astringency on three tracks. The bittersweet original "Jesce," Buarque's poignant "Beatriz," and the Neapolitan folk classic "Mmiezo 'O Ggrano," given a haunting reading by Warren on prepared piano and De Vito on electronics and voice.
Clarinetist Gabriele Mirabassiwhose Canto Di Ebano (Egea, 2008) celebrates, in part, the folk tradition of northern Italyguests on three tracks, contributing brilliantly expressive solos to "Jesce" and "Ginga Carioca."
Given this is an international release, it would have been useful to have English translations of the lengthy Neapolitan lyrics to the Warren/De Vito originals "Allirallena" and "Jesce," but that's a minor gripe. This is a strikingly beautiful and transporting voice-based album which communicates through rhythm and melody rather than language.
And The Kitchen Sink; Allirallena; Miguilim; Si Fosse N
Maria Pia De Vito: voice; Huw Warren: piano, prepared piano; Gabriele Mirabassi: clarinet (4, 5, 8).