For anyone familiar with Italian accordion player Riccardo Tesi, it’s always good news when he releases a new album, but it’s a bit of a quandry now that he has released two. Which to choose? Either album is a good choice and they are not too-distant cousins. Completists would do well to get both. For those on tighter budgets, it’s really a toss-up, with Lune being a bit more non-traditional. Both, however, bear Tesi’s signature jauntiness and his amiable nudging out at the boundaries of Italian traditional music.
Tesi and Bandaitaliana are part of the ongoing reinvention of Italian regional music. On Lune, they play a variety of sprightly tunes, instrumental and vocal. Tessi’s adaptations of trad music are generally subtle, a product of his easy elegance, making the music new without going to far from its roots. While his fusion is not usually the electric kind, he ends Lune with two remixes: “Maggio” is innocuous enough, the implanted beats makes it more dance floor friendly, but the original is pretty lively on its own. “Tevakh” is a bit more interesting, with a Jew’s harp looped amid the added percussion. Crinali is Tessi’s exploration of the music from the Apennines Mountains around Bologna, done along with sax player Claudio Carboni. As he has done before with other regions, Tessi does his research, but also makes the old music his own. The group performs a series of suites, grouped by mood and emotion. While the music is from one region, it is stylistically diverse: polkas, mazurkas, waltzes and even a tango are covered. All are played with infectious energy and deft arrangements not unlike Irish neo-traditional bands are doing on the other side of Europe. Tesi’s latest albums are further proof that he can consistently make region-specific music universally entertaining.