"Blu di Genova"
"Blu di Genova" isn't billed as a sampler of Italian-born guitarist Beppe Gambetta's work, but it nonetheless offers a colorful overview of his interests and influences. In fact, anyone wishing to become acquainted with this veteran, world-class flat picker and his highly distinctive repertoire -- it spans the Atlantic, from his native Genoa to Nashville and points south -- may want to start here.
A bit of production sleight of hand opens the album. "On the Road With Mama" finds Gambetta overdubbing six- and 12-string guitars, spinning a thick weave that sometimes calls to mind what a duet by Doc Watson and Leo Kottke might sound like. Bambetta then adds other instruments to his transcontinental repertoire. Glen Moore's acoustic bass shades and underpins the sprightly "Fandango Per la Bionda." Guitarist Dan Crary, a stellar flat picker himself, joins an ensemble augmented by mandolin, oboe, banjo and accordion for a warmly harmonized, jazz-tinged reprise of Norman Blake's "Church Street Blues." (Gambetta won't win any awards for his singing, but his hushed croon serves him well here.) A mandolin quartet enhances a chamberlike medley of "Nova Gelosia/Serenata," and later Gambetta recruits Crary and tuba player Phil Neuman to harmonize and propel the delightful, flag-waving procession of "Marcia Americana" and "Under the Double Eagle."
The tune title that best sums up Gambetta's Atlantic crossings? Easy: the self-penned "Tarantexas." Yet it's just one of several pieces that showcase his crisp attack and fluid single-note lines.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Monday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Beppe Gambetta, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8122. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)