Taranta's Circles
(Splasch, 2005)

The Italian quartet Mahanada has combined jazz with world music on Taranta's Circles. Some of the 16 tracks are original compositions, while others are traditional tarantellas from southern Italy. The word "tarantella" can be used to describe either a song or a dance. The dance is a lively one with couples, a staple at Italian weddings.

The tarantella dates from the Middle Ages, and some of this CD sounds like Renaissance music. There are also hints of flamenco and even what sounds like African chant sung in Italian. Mixed in is Windham Hill-type jazz with rhythmic accompaniment, and some parts that approach classical music.

On some songs, Giancarlo Mazzu sings and plays guitar. The other three accompany him in a jazz fashion: Carlo Nicita with flutes, Carmelo Cogitore with saxes and bass clarinet, and Luciano Troja on piano. All four also use various types of percussion. A bit of whistling and overtone singing has been added.

There are many variations to the music. One track has a duet with bass clarinet and flute, along with piano and a hand drum. One is a solo with a type of fiddle. Yet another has mouth percussion and flute. The songs vary in length from a little over a minute to about seven-and-a-half minutes, totaling slightly more than an hour.

This is a fascinating and absorbing CD, which should appeal to listeners of jazz, folk and world music, or anyone looking to hear something different and imaginative.

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review by
Dave Howell

1 September 2007

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