Newpoli Pushes the Borders of Italian Music

Newpoli, Mediterraneo

Newpoli is based in Greater Boston, where it has won numerous accolades, but there’s a reason why this band has been nominated for traditional music awards in Italy. This is high-octane Italian music that blurs the line between folk, pop, and classical. On Mediterraneo, their new album, they tear down a few more barriers. Newpoli specializes in southern taranta music—lively 6/8 dance tunes—popular in Naples and Sicily. Naples has long been a busy port city where cultures meet and blend. You’ll hear this all over the album. Na Voce Sola, for instance, has swirling, rhythmic grooves and Romani-like vocal and melody lines. Appropriately for a themed album on migration, So’ emigrant is an album highlight, a dramatic track with North African influences. Listen well and you’ll pick out some Turkish affinity. The classical training of several ensemble members is evident in the title track and elsewhere, including its mélange of instruments. Tempos are often set by hand drums and an Italian guitar called the chittara battente, a cross between a bouzouki and a Baroque guitar. You’ll also hear violin, viola, and numerous blown instruments—from bagpipes and recorders to handheld ocarinas. And let’s not overlook the grace, power, and energy of vocalists Carmen Marsico and Angela Rossi, who are just one co-conspirator short of making them an Italian version of Vartinna. My favorite track is Pizzicadegli Ucci, a piece that will make you want to garland the donkey, decorate the cart, and dance until you drop. At nearly ten-minutes in length, it’s very likely you will give out before the band.

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