Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS) are the international ambassadors of pizzica salentina, traditional dance music from Puglia, the heel of Italy.
Driven by the fast 6/8 rhythms of the tambourine-like tamburello drum, pizzica has enjoyed a significant revival in southern Italy in the past 20 years. It’s easy to dance to and has an intriguing connection to the taranta dances that can supposedly cure tarantula bites.
CGS was formed in 1975 as a seven-piece band and a dancer. Band leader back then was Rina Murante who handed down the leadership to his son, fiddler and drummer Mauro Durante, in 2007.
The group’s quest is – and has always been – to merge the folk traditions with western pop trends. The cover of their latest album, Canzoniere (Italian for ‘songbook’), shows a Coca-Cola bottle filled with locally made tomato puree – which nicely depicts their approach.
By means of guitar, tamburello frame drums, bouzouki, violin, accordion and zampogna bagpipes, CGS presents both soul-searching ballads, mournful lullabies and, mostly, turbo-charged tunes driven by thundering drums, pumping accordion and throaty, impassioned vocals. In front you’ll see dancer Silvia Perrone’s stylish visual accompaniment to the musical material.
The nature of pizzica is its almost complete lack of harmonic shift. It is not unusual for almost an entire piece to be based on a single drone note, which just occasionally shifts, only to return to its anchoring position. That way, the music can easily whirl you into a trance.
CGS has performed all over the world, including shows in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Now it’s time for a manic gig at Roskilde Festival 2020.