'A Banna! -Banda Di Avola
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Banda Di Avola
'A Banna!

Another episode in Felmay's continuing exploration of banda music from Sicily, Avola offers a series of secular marches (a stark contrast to the sacred themes of much of the music of Banda Ionica. This large band of brass, woodwinds, reeds and percussion may seem on first listening like just another marching band, but underneath these melodies (most from the 1920s) is a true Sicilian exhuberance.
Listen:
Scottish
Nun ti lassu
La ritirata

After Passione and Matri Mia, Banda Ionica’s critically acclaimed and highly popular reinvention of the Sicilian band sound along contemporary lines, BANDA DI AVOLA with , their new album ‘A Banna offer a richly rewarding continuation of the genre.

Again the man pulling the strings is Fabio Barovero who seems to have had great fun visiting town squares and festivals, keeping his ears peeled for the strains of the ‘old skool’ bands whose survival in our own time he’s made it his business to document. But far from being a mere cash-cow retread of the Banda Ionica path, this new chapter presents us with a number of significant variations, particularly regarding the way the repertoire has been put together.

Eschewing an intellectual approach to music making, from the very first note the BANDA DI AVOLA record careers with reckless abandon down the road to pure, playful enjoyment. In fact, Barovero along with the band’s director Sebastiano Bell’Arte (who also happens to be playing in Banda Ionica), have decided to focus exclusively on pieces from the 1920s, a series of spirited, tongue-in-cheek marches capable of captivating both players and audience alike. While many of these pieces may evoke the dark inter-war years of Mussolini’s rise to power and the fears and anxieties of generations who had worse coming, they are at the same time the living, breathing evidence of a culture of authentically lived joy.

This repertoire is little known or played by today’s Sicilian bands and Barovero and Bell’Arte have made a huge effort in trawling the archives of numerous musical associations to dig up a musical treasure-trove that has no doubt lain buried for years on the island. But equally important in dusting off these half-forgotten scores are the young musicians who make up the band and whose enthusiasm and technical expertise have injected new life into a music from not so far off in time that nonetheless somehow got shunted into a siding of collective memory.

'A Banna! marks a perfect fusion between musical pedagogy and artistry, a record whose formula of curiosity and open-mindedness always yields exceptional results.

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