Banda Ionica,
Matri Mia
(Felmay, 2002)

Matri Mia is a quite astonishing and intriguing blend of marching band and vocals. Distinctly European in flavour, this is emphasized by the lyrics sung in Italian, Spanish and French -- there are no English translations on the elaborate and beautifully produced cover booklet, but all 11 tracks on Banda Ionica's latest CD are dedicated to Woman; in particular to the Mother who gives her all with love.

It is a difficult album to pin down, musically -- being neither the sound expected by North American listeners nor by British listeners when they read "marching band." This is not the anticipated traditional military or brass band; Banda Ionica presents a more complex sound, occasionally reminiscent of a New Orleans-style funeral band, sometimes slipping into a lively march-step, other times seeming to dance through the streets to a waltz or a Latin beat. The strains of trombones, trumpets, saxophones, tubas, flutes, clarinets, flugelhorns and assorted percussion instruments at times form a strangely sombre introduction or accompaniment to plaintive or tender vocals. Then the beat changes, the wind instruments giving forth a bizarre accompaniment, initially seeming decidedly inharmonious, but ultimately proving perfectly suited to the piece.

Bold percussion, a unique formation of instruments and a talented line-up of vocal artists of various nationalities make this an unforgettable sound. Whether you love it or hate it, it has a quality and originality all its own; steeped in the musical history of southern Italy's festivals, it is a very modern presentation, spanning many different musical rhythms and moods. This is a CD for those who already appreciate Banda Ionica's unique style; band enthusiasts should hear Matri Mia with interest and listeners who have any sense of musical adventure should definitely try it.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 16 November 2002

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