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World Music CD Reviews Europe


By Michael Stone
Published September 9, 2005

Ballati Tutti Quanti Ballati Forte

Hailing from Salento, Puglia, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino purveys one of Italy's more exotic regional folk traditions: harnessing the power of frenetic percussion, music and dance to counter the effects of the tarantella (tarantula) bite and lift the victim into a healing trance. Once discounted as backward rural superstition, the tarantella has found new adherents in post-industrial Italy. Indeed, as in the United States, the Italian folk revival invests older musical forms and the idealized rural past they represent with new cultural meanings that appeal to disaffected urbanized populations who lament their lack of connection with the more grounded lifestyle, traditions and values of the ancestors. The driving hand percussion, the evocative interweaving of accordion, violin, guitar, lute and mandolin, and the blending of raw male and female voices in call-and-response mode may be ancient, but Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino endows this music with compelling contemporary significance. A powerfully evocative metaphor is at work here: modernism?Js lethal character can be cured only through frenzied communal rhythm, dance and song whose fundamental intent and consequence is transcendental.