AT A time of worrying trade wars and an era of exclusiveness – rather than inclusiveness – the music of Antonio Forcione is like a breath of fresh air. It reminds you that it is better to embrace than to shun, to be expansive rather than insular.
Spend two hours listening to his music and his exquisite guitar playing and you will be transported around the globe – from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, to Southern Italy, the African continent and Cuba. A thrilling musical journey, epic in breath and sweet on the ear. World music. Evocative, mesmeric and yes, all inclusive.
Although Forcione’s mastery of the guitar is as good as it can get, his series of performances at Pizza Express Live (Soho) ending on Friday December 7 are not one man shows. Far from it. The triumvirate of musicians he has brought on board to create the Antonio Forcione Quartet ooze with talent.
Emiliano Caroselli on percussion and drums (all crashing cymbals, deft brush work and a lot more besides), Matheus Nova on acoustic bass (deadly serious but masterly) and the amazing Jenny Adejayan on cello (a chilled creator of haunting sounds). All are given their moments to shine by Forcione and shine brightly they do.
Thrillingly, Forcione has thrown a bit of explosive red pepper on the quartet with the introduction off vocalist Marta Capponi who adds to his compositions with her thrilling Xhosa sounds. A massive talent.
Highlights from a tight set at Pizza Express Live (Soho) on December 5 included Song For Zimbabwe and Africa (tracks from Sketches of Africa, 2012), both with Capponi on vocals.
Also, Alhambra, a hauntingly beautiful piece of music that conjures up visions of the hilltop fortress that is Granada with its Moorish influences. A composition enhanced by Adejayan’s cello and Caroselli’s sensitive percussion work.
Tar and Stay Forever, also from Sketches of Africa, opened the first set while Forcione paid homage to both guitarist Django Reinhardt and American composer Henry Mancini with Waiting For Django and The Cool Cat – the latter something of a Forcione party piece as he shows how he can extract sounds from parts of his guitar few other players dare use.
Havana demonstrated Forcione’s love of Cuban music while Tarantella, embellished by Adejayan’s sublime cello playing, acknowledged the frenetic dancing that the good people of Southern Italy would embark upon if bitten by a tarantula (naked, of course). With Capponi bringing a poetic twist to Twilight, the night was brought to a thrilling climax with Maurizio’s Party, the band playing a version of musical tennis.
There is no doubt that Forcione is at the height of his career. Intelligent, articulate and warm, he is an ambassador for inclusive and vibrant world music. A musician of our time and for our time.