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Luca Aquino: Italian Songbook

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Given a stroke of sfortuna, trumpet players can encounter physically and psychologically debilitating facial injuries. Maladies such as embouchure overuse, lip muscle tears, trauma, dystonia and Bell's Palsy can disrupt or end careers. After a devastating bout with Bell's Palsy, obtaining the guidance of trumpet "Yoda," Bobby Shew, and undergoing a lengthy recovery, Italian trumpeter Luca Aquino has delivered Italian Songbook—an utterly brilliant and beautiful production.

Aquino, fronting various-sized ensembles, offers a dozen sublime selections each emanating from his robust Italian music heritage. He covers works of the great soundtrack composers Ennio Morricone ("Deborah's Theme") and Nino Rota ("La Strada"), as well as selections drawn from the compositions of cantautori, singer-songwriters (Lucio Dalla's "Caruso") and many others. The fare here is lush, expansive and passionate ("La canzone della amore perduto"). There's no straight-ahead bebop; just deeply emotional, tasteful and dramatic fare.

Aquino is an introspective, sensitive and lyrical player on the lovely waltz-like "Scalinatella" and "Un giorno dopo l'altro." His tonal approach is inviting and he probes deeply into these melodies. He is much more about nuance and color ("So che ti pederó" and the waltz "Era de maggio" and Anama e core")— think Chet Baker and Chris Botti. While comparisons are unfair or even unwarranted, one might think that this was a magnificent Chris Botti album, but, as great an artist as Botti is, thankfully he's never had to face the challenges that Aquino has had to overcome.

The melodically robust compositions and Giovanni Francesca's arrangements are perfect for Aquino's soft trumpet and flugelhorn tones. The ensembles support with taste and emotional passion, for example, the highly animated "Storia d'amore," "Almeno tu nell'universo" and "Pippo non lo sa." The duo offerings with accordionist Natalino Marchetti, a superb performer and accompanist, speak of the heart and its desires. Danilo Rea's piano adds a rainbow of luscious colors.

It is a testament to Aquino's love for musica Italiana and the trumpet that he was able not only to overcome his malady but to be able to achieve a work of such passion, emotion and beauty.

Italian Songbook is a personal and musical triumph.

Track Listing: Deborah's theme; Scalanitella; La canzone dell' amore perduto; Caruso; Storia d'amore; Almeno tu nell' universo; Un giorno dopo l'altro; Era de maggio; So che ti pederó; anema e core; Pippo nn lo sa; La strada.

Personnel: Luca Aquino: trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone; Danilo Rea: piano; Natalino Rea: accordion; Orchestra Flarmonica di Benevento; arranged and conducted by Giovanni Francesca; Fabio Giochino: piano and keys; Rino De Patre: classical guitar; Ruben Bellavia: drums.

Title: Italian Songbook | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: ACT Music

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