Album Review: Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Canzoniere [Ponderosa Music & Art]

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS) are the ambassadors of Pizzica Salentina in the world and have become a household name in the festival circuit worldwide and back home in Salento, Italy. The group achieves this by expertly extending and enriching the traditional musical style of the far South East of the Italian peninsula with other sounds of the world, while never losing their firm grip of the fundamental stylistic tenets of this ageless form of indigenous music and dance. The latest issue: Quaranta (40), which celebrates 40 years of CGS (a family ‘firm’ that has passed their music down from fathers to sons), pulls yet another trick out of the hat with Canzoniere (Italian for “songbook”).

The group’s quest is to adapt the usual Pizzica Salentina and vibes of Southern Italian folk music into Western pop. This is expressed on the album’s cover art – a bottle of Coca-Cola (with its iconic 1920s design; reminiscent of Andy Warhol) filled with tomato passata, a tomato sauce preserve – the quintessential ingredient of traditional Italian cuisine. As expressly noted by CGS leader Mauro Durante, the bottle is merely a container – the Western pop song – and CGS puts their homemade tradition into it.

On Canzoniere, all songs are sung in the Salentino dialect and the traditional framework is still clearly present, but, this time, most tracks are a co-working of CGS and some of the most prestigious US and European songwriters and musicians, with their unique experiences in pop, dance, club, and rock.

This is a new chapter in CGS’s history that will yet again impress its audience.