Internationally revered and respected Sardinian free improviser/lyricist/Jazz vocalist Filomena Campus along with award winning Sardinian guitarist, composer and arranger Giorgio Serci recently launched their latest album ‘Scaramouche’ at a critically and publically acclaimed showcase at London’s Pizza Express, Jazz Bar. This luxuriously packaged CD is reminiscent of those classical musical gate-fold box-set LP’s of yesteryear – but much, much more lush. The striking and vibrant cover art – created by fellow Sardinian and Internationally famed Painter/Sculpture, Giuseppe Carta – radiates the warmth of the Sardinian sunshine. That same striking and vibrant lushness is thankfully carried through to each ear-pleasing recording of this refreshing ten track offering. Although now based in London, both Filomena’s and Giorgio’s Sardinian roots ooze out on this rich recording. The term ‘Scaramouche’ refers to 16th century masked theatre performances of the’Commedia dell’arte all’ improvviso'(comedy of the very creative ability of improvisation). In fact it is Ms Campus’ theatrical background and ‘creative ability of improvisation’ and lyrical interpretation which resonate fervently throughout the album.
The opening track ‘Hermetico’ (Dedicated to Brazilian Improviser/Composer/Multi-instrumentalist Hermetico Pascoal) sets the high bench mark of quality musicianship that this captivating, well-rounded album never drops below. ‘Hermetico’s’ jaunty and infectious staccato rhythm and backbeat is given authenticity by the input of Brazilian master and purveyor of fine percussion, Adriano Adewale, combined with the crispness of Giorgio Serci’s clear and concise classical guitar inflection allowing Filomena’s tender vocals to weave freely between the two as she sings about, “…uncensored melodies from your Brazil were I am flying with you.”
Each track although all original compositions, seems to have an instant familiarity, which is testament to Giorgio Serci‘s inherent ability to write, play and conduct expansive and thoughtful musical scores which allow room for the individual expression of the musicians as well as Filomena’s uninhibited Nightingale-esque vocal style and lyrical adeptness. ‘Primavera,’ ‘Boghe ‘E Maestrale,’ ‘Scaramouche’ and the magnificent ‘Campidano’ in particular, will have you humming their catchy melodies for hours and even days after.
The involvement of featured artists/special guests, Adriano Adewale, Rowland Sutherland, the Keld Ensemble and the late Kenny Wheeler, is truly impactful. The aptly titled ‘Momentum’ transpired to be indeed that – a momentous recording – being as it was, one of the last studio recordings of the late, inspirational British trumpet player/conductor Kenny Wheeler. Mr Wheeler definitely left his distinctive musical signature on this recording. Esteemed classical and jazz flautist Rowland Sutherland also graces the album with his delicately wispy and ethereal flute injections on ‘Boghe ‘E Maestrale’ and the title track ‘Scaramouche’. The Keld Ensemble who first came to prominence in 2010 are now a well-established and in demand orchestral outfit. Their musical mastery can also be found on the captivating title track ‘Scaramouche’ as well as the instrumental and hidden gem ‘Decisions’. Brazilian multi-percussionist Adriano Adewale’s, intuitive, illuminating, yet subtle and controlled playing provides this album with the X factor that a traditional drummer would not afford.
Underpinning all of this is Giorgio Serci’s ever present feather-light and precise classical guitar/bass/oud delivery which complements Filomena’s exquisite vocal flourishes. The synergy between the two, evident throughout the album, is magnified on the more minimalist tracks such as ‘Hermetico,’ where the two Sardinians spa effortlessly with one another; ‘Baltic Spellbound’, where guitarist and vocalist seem to instinctively follow each other’s fluctuations and undulations; and on the playful purity of ‘Primavera’.
In conclusion, with ‘Scaramouche,’ Filomena Campus and Giorgio Serci have produced an album that will not only transport one mentally to the Sardinian sunshine, but will enable one to virtually taste their world-famous Sardinian Sospiri sweets and Amaretti cookies. With its exemplary chocolate/gift box presentation and the festive season soon upon us, ‘Scaramouche’ would indeed make the ideal Christmas present for a good friend, significant other or that someone special (YOU!).
Michael J Edwards