Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino
Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino won the award for best group at the 2018 Songlines Music Awards, run by the most prestigious magazine focusing on world music. And the judges had every reason to do so: formed in 1975, the band has had more impact on the pizzica revival than any other in our time. The pizzica music of southern Italy is inextricably linked to the belief that the most potent cure against the venom of a tarantula bite is unbridled dancing. Nowadays, it is more perilous ‘demons’ – like unemployment, economic crises and depression – that threaten the region’s inhabitants, but the dance is reputed to counter their effects as well. But Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino also sends people who are right as rain spinning heavenward.
The ensemble was founded by Caterina and Daniele Durante in 1975. (The Canzoniere in their name means ‘songbook’, while Grecanico refers to the dialect of Greek spoken in Salento.) In 2007, Daniele passed leadership of the band on to his fiddler son Mauro, who rejuvenated the entire group with young musicians. He gathered around him instrumentalists (playing tambourine, accordion, recorders, guitar, bouzuki and bagpipes) and dancers who can handle even the fieriest pizzicas, but they are liable at any moment to abruptly switch from madcap twirling to heart-wrenching lyricism. Rich in Mediterranean influences, their repertoire sounds just as amazing in the recording studio as it does on the stage: their 2012 album Pizzica indiavolata and 2015’s Quaranta were played regularly on European world music radio stations. Creating an even bigger sensation was their 2017 record Canzoniere, which opened up to pop music and hip-hop without losing one bit of its folk tradition. Just as can be expected from the very finest.