Award-winning fingerstyle guitarist and co-founder of The Pacific Guitar Ensemble, Italy reared Peppino D'Agostino has been an internationally esteemed musician since his arrival to America 25-years ago. He's among the elite guitarists in this spectrum while spreading his wares across musical boundaries, steeped in many musical fronts. Agostino works within an operational mode evidenced by modern day greats such as Bert Jansch, Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges, yet like his famous peers, he embroiders a personal sound and style as he lives the songs he performs. His musicality can be equated to that of a lyricist who combines the twofold melody and verse aspects into compositional form.
D'Agostino infuses much enthusiasm throughout these concise portraitures, whether he's breathing life into these works via resonating or split second note-bending techniques or using an economical approach to get his point across. He bridges the gap between multiethnic folk and classical music, heightened by blitzing and complex single note runs or intricately designed chord solos. On "Peppino Sotto Portico," he executes a tender and wistful melodic hook amid a highly rhythmic approach, yet is having a conversation between his left and right hands on the lullaby-like, "Valse des Anges."
Other delicacies include his sumptuous phrasings and gently fabricated harmonic components. And he brings a sense of urgency to the forefront during "Irican," which is loaded with counterbalancing statements and dizzying chord clusters. Though, his musical persona resides somewhere between legendary Americana guitarist John Fahey and classical maestro Andre Segovia on "MB Love." Nonetheless, D'Agostino wields his magic hands and persuasive artistry on this gorgeous outing that is markedly entertaining along with the inherent educational factors that offer additional dividends for beginners and pros.
Track Listing: Penumbra; Movimento Sincronici; Peppino Sotto Portico; Valse des Anges; Una Serata a North Beach; Irican; Incantation; MB Love; Jamie’s Smile; Sergio; Smiling at Each Other; The Blue Ocean.
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.