Ten years ago a group of Italians left their homeland for Boston’s Berklee College of Music. The octet specializes in music from Napoli and points south. Listeners are treated to soaring operatic voices, wild tarantella cadences, lyrical canzones, and madrigal-like material largely drawn from the Renaissance. It is not, however, “ancient music" as the term is used in classical music. Newpoli are keenly aware that Neapolitans were/are not known for devotion to decorum, that the tarantella is an up-tempo (6/8 and 18/8) folk dance, and that peasants sang as lustily as opera singers. You’ll also hear Arabic and Greek influences in arrangements in which piccolo shares musical space with violins, accordions are as dignified (or not) as flutes, and tambourines give contrabass a run for its percussive money. Newpoli ensured unstuffy freshness by recording tracks live in an acoustically balanced Swampscott church. This reviewer accepts no responsibility for those who shed shoes, suits, and inhibitions while partaking of it.
- Rob Weir