Banda di Avola - Banna!
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Banda di Avola
Felmay (

cd cover "The King," the amazing opening track of Banna!, offers a Polaroid picture of the 1920s, the time period covered by this recording. It swings, it caresses, it winks to the assembled masses and is as Italian as Federico Fellini: the ladies in their overcoats and the men in their bowler hats and in their Sunday best; the barefoot kids playing around in the unpaved square while the local dignitaries watch from the Town Hall, eagerly waiting for His (bored) Royal Highness to arrive to yet another small Sicilian town. Your chest expands to the heave and swell of the music; if only you could find that mislaid baton.

Here is an archaeological record of those times. Banda di Avola, who have strong ties to the consistently wonderful Banda Ionica, consists of schoolchildren who rediscovered the music of their grandparents. I can relate to the shock that usually accompanies the time when you first realize that your grandparents did occasionally enjoy themselves back in the day and I think a lot of the fun that this record oozes is related to this particular feeling. "Nun ti lassu," "Armida," "Galop," "Sfilata" are all beautiful and swinging tracks, but the recording really takes off on "Squinzano," when the refrain is as delicate as Chopin, yet is performed by a full marching band. It's one of those moments when you stop whatever you are doing and savor the feeling.

Banda di Avola have created a record that is funny, fun, festive and fiery. It is extraordinary that these are twelve-to-fifteen-year old kids who can perform with such virtuosity but it is also amazing that this music is so imbued with emotion three generations later. Fabio Barovero, who directed this project, should be congratulated on a great achievement.

Banna! creates a space of pomp and ceremony that will transform the undignified and mundane rituals of daily life into an event worthy of royalty. - Nondas Kitsos

CD available from cdRoots

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