Recorded live in the studio and eschewing the modern approach of artificially building the music piece by piece, the group was able to harness the energy that is such a distinctive part of its live shows, but in a setting where the sound of each instrument is faithfully represented. Argentinian guitarist Claudio Ragazzi, who has recorded with Bebel Gilberto, makes a guest appearance on three tracks, including Pascoal's baiao Bebé.
The band began as an informal trio when Club d'Elf bassist Mike Rivard, electric mandolinist Matt Glover and accordionist Roberto Cassan got together to explore their mutual love for folk music from all over the world, especially the styles born out of the Gypsy diaspora. Occasionally gigging around Boston/Cambridge when schedules with their other bands allowed, the trio became a quartet with the addition of percussionist and singer Fabio Pirozzolo, and Grand Fatilla was born. Honing the music over the course of countless sweaty nights in various venues (including packed houses at the Regattabar) has attracted a considerable following, notable for its raucous enthusiasm and varied ethnic make-up. Audience members from different countries recognize music from their culture and assume at least one of the members must be a fellow countryman, the music being performed so authentically. Like an iPod on shuffle the group jumps from Argentine Tangos to Italian Tarantellas, from Turkish sacred Sufi songs to Irish reels, Moroccan trance to Bulgarian dance music, all performed with an emphasis on improvisational group interplay and playful spontaneity.
In this age of heightened global consciousness the repertoire that Grand Fatilla performs acknowledges and pays homage to the idea that it is indeed One World that we all live in, and the music of diverse cultures enriches us all. At a Grand Fatilla show one finds ex-pats from Italy, Bulgaria, Brazil and all points on the globe rubbing shoulders with tribal belly dancers, bohemian poets and college students, all coming together in the celebration of music that transcends boundaries.
Each member of the band brings a distinct flavor and area of expertise in different world music to the collective sound: Cassan and Pirozzolo both hail from Italy where they were immersed in the folk music of that area (and play with the Italian folk group Newpoli), and have also intensely explored Balkan, Tango, Brazilian and South American music. Glover came to Boston from his native Newfoundland where he absorbed the Celtic influences and fiddle music of that area, as well as studying the South Indian style of mandolinist U. Srinivas. Rivard, who is also a member of Indian-jazz group Natraj and plays with the Boston Pops Orchestra, has a passion for North African music, especially Moroccan trance music. This lead him to study the sintir, a 3-stringed bass lute, which is featured on the tracks Five Of Swords (recorded on an instrument presented to him by Gnawa legend Maalem Mahmoud Guinia during a trip to Morocco) and the shifting time signatures and intricate rhythms of Kasha.
With two members of the group originally from Italy, it's no surprise that the group embraces folk music from that country. Alla Carpinese was originally collected by ethnomusicologists Alan Lomax and Diego Carpitella during their 1950s expedition in the little town of Carpino in Southern Italy, and the band gives it a somewhat unorthodox treatment, with an unaccompanied bass solo beginning the track. Southern Italian Medley is a mix of two melodies both from Southern Italy. Lomax and Carpitella collected the opening chant (they called it "Lu Pecuraru") in Basilicata, and Pirozzolo sings it over a haunting drone. The short text announces the marriage of a young shepherd, asking whoever was listening to inform his mother of his decision. The second is a fast tarantella (originally improvised by a singing barber) from the village of Sannicandro Garganico in Apulia. Many of these melodies were used to heal cases of tarantism, a recurring physical and psychological condition believed to be caused by the bite of the Apulian tarantula. The healing ritual of the tarantella would use music, rhythm, dance and colors to cure the afflicted person: audience members at a Grand Fatilla show are often compelled into ecstatic dance, spider bite or not!
The music of Bulgaria is represented by two tracks: Sandansko Oro and Cigansko Oro ("Oro" or "Horo" is a general term to indicate various dances from Bulgaria and Macedonia). The former is a dance tune that comes from the town of Sandanski, in the southwest corner of Bulgaria. The tune features a challenging 22/16 meter, which for the mathematically-inclined can be broken up into two asymmetrical parts: 9/16 (2+2+2+3) and 13/16 (2+2+2+3+2+2). Pirozzolo adds the Bulgarian tapan to his percussion arsenal for this track. Cigansko Oro is an arrangement of a version taken from the Hungarian group Zsaratnok, a leading folk group in Balkan music during the 1980s, and features continuously shifting time signatures which build up to the climax of Cassan's rousing accordion solo in 7/8 time.
Cassan contributes three original tunes: Domenie, which means "Sunday" in the dialect of Friuli, in the Northeast region of Italy where he is from. Although the style of music is more connected with the accordion tradition of the northeast part of Brazil, the tune harkens back to the joy and celebration that that day brought every week in his hometown. Milonga Para Lucia (dedicated to his daughter) is written in the milonga style of the countryside of Argentina, and it is also a tribute to the song Verde Milonga by the great Italian singer-songwriter Paolo Conte). The waltz Corrente refers to the river stream that keeps flowing, and mixes French musette, Venezuelan joropo, and heavy southern Italian and Brazilian tambourine-style playing.
Another composer whom the band has a particular fondness for is Astor Piazzolla, whose hypnotic tango Fracanapa (the name of a Venetian mask) is a perfect vehicle for Fatilla, and rounds out the program. Whether navigating the tricky time signatures of a Bulgarian dance song, trancing to a Moroccan chaabi groove, faithfully rendering an ancient Italian folk ballad, or rocking out with a John Bonham beat, the band is committed to sharing its enthusiasm for all of the styles it loves with an even wider audience, poised to embrace the infectious energy and astonishing variety on Global Shuffle.
SEE GRAND FATILLA LIVE:
Thursday September 4, 2014
The Regattabar at the Charles Hotel
One Bennett Street, Cambridge, MA 02138