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“The persistant growth of an artist is always a...”

Written on: 29/08/2006 by jfderry (208 reviews written)

The persistant growth of an artist is always a pleasure to follow. Sometimes it is a sudden change of direction, or it may be a gradual convergence that leads the musician to find their own voice.

The maturity in style and execution on display from virtuoso guitarist Antonio Forcione on Ghetto Paradise is a stunning metamorphosis. As a butterfly emerges from a cocoon to spread its wings for the first time, so Forcione has found a new depth in his composition and expression.

Spurred on by a lineup that features John McLaughlin Trio members Trilok Gurtu and Kai Eckhardt de Camargo, it is not surprising that the arrangements here sound reminsicent of Que Allegria, and here also, beyond the harmony and fiery unison licks, lies a fertile ground of pizzaz and vibrant melodies. This trio is bolstered by the welcome patronage of Forcione's long-term compatriot Davide Mantovani, and amongst others, the searing sax of Roberto Manzin. The overall mixture therefore tends towards another great contemporary album, Count's Jam Band Reunion [see review].

Funky, upbeat and fluid pieces are punctuated with intensely introspective solo spots for a musician clearly playing at his best. Gone are the impressive yet diversionary antics of Forcione's live set. Instead we feel raw nerve exposure and emotional potency that in places borders on the claustrophobic.

Points of interest include an outing for Forcione's recently acquired 'Ouddan' fretless guitar, and the exotic vocals of Sonal Varsani, a reminder of the Albanese heritage in the small Italian town of Montecilfone, Forcione's birthplace and the subject of this album.

A revolutionary and stylish release for Antonio Forcione that should place him and his music in the exalted light that this, his latest incarnation, justly deserves.

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