Review (Jazz Fusion): “Africannu” Sissy Castrogiovanni

What I love about Sicilian jazz singer Sissy Castrogiovanni’s music is that it brings together different cultures seamlessly and with care.  You can hear their distinct qualities yet they fit well together similar to a well-made tapestry or tasty fusion cuisine.

Having studied jazz improvisation, vocal technique and percussion in Italy and then gaining her degree in Jazz Composition at Berklee, not to mention having worked with Jack DeJohnette, Bobby McFerrin and Patrice Rushen, Ms. Castrogiovanni has acquired formidable skills which are evident in her compositions.

She has a similar approach in her album’s concept to that of Claudia Acuna’s, but aside from the fact that she is singing in a Sicilian dialect (which arguably has a similar enunciation and passion to Spanish) she has a different tone quality and employs a larger sound with the introduction of a choir of voices over her vamp section.  Not to mention she is a soprano/alto whereas Claudia is on the lower end of the alto sound.  

I really like the beginning of the song “Africannu” that has the sound of children playing near the beach and the sax solos over this backdrop.  It reminded me of a recording that Dizzy Gillespie and James Moody made of the Antonio Carlos Jobim composition “Chega De Saudade.”

This piece is in 5/4 and has a loose feel to it that makes you feel real comfortable listening to a song in an “odd meter.” The piano and sax solos are thoughtful and fit well within the overall concept of the performance.  Her solo reminded me a little of Dianne Reeves yet she has her own way of phrasing and playing with rhythm.  

Her compositional skills are very apparent given that this piece is an original.  The melodic and harmonic statements are quite complimentary and I especially like the contrapuntal bass and piano line that ends each bridge section.  The arrangement is also well-planned and keeps the listener in a state of anticipation wanting to hear what is coming next.  This song does not disappoint and is a great addition to a debut album.  



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