After the chaos and destruction of World War II and the conservative musical environment Italian leaders promoted, the Italian public was ready for a more relaxed sound. Jazz, swing and boogie-woogie were achieving worldwide popularity and merged with the Italian crooner tradition. The musical rebirth of the 1950s and 60s was like a second liberation. Putumayos Italian Café captures the music and attitude from that era and from current singers whose musical DNA follows that lineage. While most foreign music was banned under the Italian fascist regime, Fred Buscaglione wound up in a U.S. internment camp, where he was able to get a jumpstart in trying out the styles emerging from America. Quartetto Cetra emerged in the late 40s, when they provided the overdubs for the Italian versions of the movies Dumbo and Wizard of Oz. The following decade found Renato Carosone blending Neapolitan folk music with American jazz and boogie-woogie to create a signature style that made him a household name in Italy and a chart-topping crooner in the U.S.
Nicola Arigliano is the only 1950s-era artist on Italian Café performing to this day. Born in 1923 in a small village in southern Italy, Arigliano ran away from home when he was just 11 years old to play music in the nightclubs of Milan. Arigliano disappeared from the concert stage for 30 years. In the past decade he re-emerged with four new albums.
Gianmaria Testa is more famous abroad than he is at home in Italy, where he works as a train station manager. You can hear his trademark gruff, whispering voice on two songs on Italian Café. Daniele Silvestris "Le Cose in Comune" won Italys equivalent of the Grammy, as best song of the year.
The collection features extensive liner notes in English, Italian, Spanish and French.
That being said, I highly recommend this to listeners who love a vintage sound and style. With a mixture of early Europop, American rock n'n roll, swing jazz, balladeering and a wonderful little touch of klezmer (Quadro Nuevo's clarinet-driven instrumental take on Renato Carosone's "To Vou' Fa' l'Americano" sounds straight out of the Catskills), this program of Italian tracks from the '50s through the '90s never seases to charm, providing an ideal backdrop for a cocktail party, a family singalong or a day on the beaches of San Remo.
If you're expecting Italian tunes along the line of the MOB HITS collections, you may be disappointed at first. But upon a second listen, you wil indeed be "innamorato" with this disc.
If you're looking for the "Italian Festival" Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Vale, "when the moon hits your eye like-a-bigga-pizza-pie" type songs, you will not find them and you're most likely going to be disappointed as many other reviewers.
There are artists from the 40's, 50's, and even great contemporary ones on this CD, I find the selection to be outstanding and the tunes captivating. If you can understand the words to the songs, it will make your heart jump with emotion.
I looooove all the Putamayo compilations, I think they have great pros who are able to put together cool, smooth sounds of artists that sometimes are forgotten in time, or never made it to mass-distribution. I own several CDs of their large collection, but I'm always looking for more. I think these CDs also make a great gift for just about anyone who enjoys to have friends over, these make great chill-out background music.