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World Music CD Reviews Europe

ALESSANDRA BELLONI

By ROBERT KAYE
Published May 5, 2006

Tarantelle & Canti d’Amore
Naxos World

Allesandra Belloni is no stranger to frame drum aficionados. Like Glen Velez and Layne Redmond, Belloni has established herself as a leader in the “revival” of hand drum virtuosi. And, like her rhythmic compatriots, she has also designed her own signature line of instruments. As evinced by the title, the songs revolve around the tarantelle, which, according to the liner notes, “originated as a healing trance dance to cure the mythical bite of the tarantula,” as well as songs of love and loss. The opening “Pizzica Tarantata” launches into a near-fanatical 6/8 rhythm, propelled by Belloni’s relentless, driving tambourine. Her superlative skill is ostensibly recognized the moment she begins. Certainly, this album is a testament to her 20-year dedication to and immersion in the music of southern Italy. Working with music director and multi-instrumentalist John La Barbera and a small ensemble, Belloni has created a powerful work of art, full of verve, heartfelt conviction, and stirring emotions. It runs the gamut from frenetic healing dances to somber, unrequited love songs. Belloni’s ascendancy as percussionist and vocalist is evident throughout.