Soundchecks Music Reviews

Tarantata

Sounds True STA MM00117D

TARANTATA: Dance Of The Ancient Spider
Alessandra Belloni

review by Michael Lohr

Alessandra Belloni is a very busy woman. She is a singer, percussionist, dancer, actress (she had a part in the Francis Ford Coppola movie The Godfather Part II), the Director of Italian theatre Group I Giullari Di Piazza and the Artist in Residence at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City. She recently was nominated as one of the three best drummers of the 'world percussion movement' - by Drum Magazine - along with Baba Olatunji, Mickey Hart, with Arthur Hull. She is also a master at playing the tambourine, which is a traditional instrument associated with women in southern Italian culture. She also has a new recording out for your listening pleasure, Tarantata: Dance Of The Ancient Spider. It is a collection of traditional Italian folk music, called Tarantella, which is very popular in the south of Italy.

Ms Belloni was born in Italy, but now lives in New York City. She is committed to preserving the strong and rich traditions of her culture. She is the only woman in either the US or Italy who specialises in Southern Italian percussion combined with ritual dances and singing. She has spent more than 20 years, participating every summer, in the authentic drumming festivals in remote areas of Southern Italy, held to enjoy the mystical-erotic trance rituals of southern Italian tradition. It is said that most of these festivals performances are filled with haunting prayers to the Black Madonna and the Goddess of the Mediterranean. Alessandra Belloni has so wondrously managed captured that spiritual verve on Tarantata: Dance Of The Ancient Spider.

This CD is simply breathtaking. With her soaring mezzo-soprano voice and mesmerising tambourine rhythms, Belloni casts a spellbinding web of sensuality, spun from the folk traditions of tarantella, the ecstatic rites used to cure young women of a mysterious affliction known as "the bite of the ancient spider." With songs like the stunning Brazilian Bahia-tinged Canto di Sant'Irene, Sola Sola, Agur Iziarko and Canto della Madonna di Montserrato, she has captured the heart of the southern Italian folk song and of world music as well. In addition, there is a medieval prayer sung in Latin, a traditional Sardinian folk dance and three traditional folk songs from Italy's Puglia region, among the many tracks on the CD.

Overall this record is a joy to listen to. It whisks you away to another time and place, and I know there are times when we all need such an escape. This recording provides a nice change of pace from mainstream music. If you are looking for something different, something that will take you to another, as yet experienced, aural landscape, then go and purchase this recording.


Edited by Tony Lee
for PIGASUS Press