Excuse the punnage in the title of this post – it is hard to write about Italian library music in a serious way. Here’s why.
Library or Production Music is made for potential use in movies, television, etc. Its intended use or function was purely hypothetical.While “normal” library music is already pretty weird, Italian libraries do it even better.
The artists involved (almost) never used their real names, instead choosing to rely on endless pseudonyms like Alessandro Allesandroni and Stefano Torossi. The records that embodied the physical product were not intended for sale and (therefore) produced in minute quantities. They are rare. And feature some wild designs. It will be no surprise that fans of the genre are often male and geeky😉
All this wouldn’t be of interested if the music in question was some boring theme-songs-for-dummies affair. It’s not. The record above was released earlier this year and is now out of print. Since no digital companion was available I am now facilitating one… as a tip of the iceberg.
The She-Wolf is a rare creature. Born and bred near Como, Mississippi, granddaughter to Sid Hemphill and part of a unique musical tradition. Jessie Mae Hemphill grew up listening to, and later playing, music. She was a skilled drummer, guitar player, singer and composer. This is her debut album. Her looking upbeat and friendly on the cover is an excellent visual entree to her spellbinding sound. Dig in!
A bonafide jazz-dance classic from George Benson? I was not aware of his earliest output, but the owner of my local haunt alerted me its existence. No fusion leanings or vocal garnish, just riding a cool bassline / drums combo. Having Montego Joe on the latter doesn’t hurt.
Oh, it helps to play this over proper speakers.
This is a special one. After hearing about this record for a few years and never having the opportunity to listen to it, I jumped on the chance of acquiring a copy. Glad I did! This large group (15+ people) of vocalists and instrumentalists conjures up an original sound on their only release.
Part dramatic vocals, part moody jazz, the eight tracks manage to sound like a mix between a tense private ceremony and a triumphant public performance…weird. Add a healthy dose of drums / percussion and some scorching spiritual saxophone, and the result is a record that is very much unique.
Check it out by clicking the link above.
Stand up straight. Know what you are, and you know what you aren’t. Speak from your heart with your feet firmly planted.
Bass – Art Davis, Congas – Carlos “Patato” Valeler, Cowbell – Carlos “Totico” Eugenio, Drums – Max Roach, Flute, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Eric Dolphy, Liner Notes – Margo Guryan, Piano – Mal Waldron, Tenor Saxophone – Clifford Jordan, Trombone – Julian Priester, Trumpet – Booker Little, Vocals – Abbey Lincoln.
While going through emotional and musical cycles, this song has its own momentum – strains of rhythm and history circling each other, anchored by Abbey’s wail.
Hey! Good to see you… pull up a chair. “Eight-hand sets and holy steps” is the result of years of ethnography and recording the people that were still playing music typical of the culture and history of the black inhabitants of North Carolina. As far as I can gather from my transatlantic position, this 28th most extensive and 9th most populous American state has long known communal traditions revolving around working the land, seasons, religion and celebrations. And before I digress into stuff like the musical compositions specific to corn-shucking, I have photographed the detailed liner notes that came with the album and included a pdf-booklet in the link above.
During 21 tracks, Algia Mae Hinton, Joe & Odell Thompson, the Badgett Sisters and a host of others get into it using their voices, hands, guitars, feet and some chicken bones. Until recently, I had no idea this album existed – and I’ve been into this sort of thing for a bit. Great stuff, especially during grey and shapeless winter days.
Thanks go out to Noah Angell for the assist in securing a copy.