Gianmaria Testa – Extra-Muros (1996)

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At the beginning of his career, Italian guitarist and singer Gianmaria Testa, who is often likened to compatriot Paolo Conte due to their similar, gruff-sounding voices and origins in the Piedmonte province of Italy, had much more success in the French market than in his native country. The self-taught musician, who wrote his first song at 13, was discovered by producer Nicole Courtois in 1994 after Testa had won consecutive top prizes at the Recanti Festival, an annual singer/songwriter competition. In 1995, his debut album, Montgolfières, came out on France’s Label Bleu, followed the next year by Extra-Muros, the first release on Warner France imprint Tôt ou Tard.

In 1997, Testa began to receive recognition in his homeland, and by 1999, the year he had a European tour and released his third record, Lampo, he was fully respected and appreciated in Italy and played at its top venues. In 2000 Il Valzer di un Giorno (known worldwide as La Valse d’un Jour), a collection of songs and poetry, came out, and in 2003 Testa issued Altre Latitudini, which saw American soil in 2004. Despite the success the singer had found — Tôt ou Tard even remastered and released Extra-Muros in 2005 — Testa never quit his day job as station master at the train station in Cuneo, Italy, and was careful to schedule tour dates only when he knew his co-workers wouldn’t be taking vacations.

Testa2Circa 2005, this might seemed like the most recent release for the Italian singer/songwriter, but it wasn’t actually a new record, having first appeared in Europe ten years previously. However, it had aged remarkably well, with some superb backing from the likes of trumpeter David Lewis and François Moutin on bass (whose solo on “Un Po’ di là del Mare” is one of the disc’s instrumental highlights, a breathless piece of sheer virtuosity). By the time of this second record of his career, Testa himself was a more assured singer and writer, with much greater depth and finesse to his voice, able to put across emotion — and humor — more easily. The latter is quite apparent on the double entendres of “Il Mio Gallo,” with its arrangement that evokes vintage jazz, or the frantic “Joking Lady.” But he had a lot more going for him, like the lyrical “Come un’ America,” which offers a romantic, brokenhearted wistfulness, or the aforementioned “Un Po’ di là del Mare,” whose openly sentimental lyric probably shouldn’t work — but does. It confirms Testa as a talent, as he’s shown in the CDs (and book) he’s released since. This disc may have been a little late in arriving, but it was well worth the wait. (by Chris Nickson)

This is a reissue with other Label, artwork and notes of the same material of previously 1996 edition (24 pages booklet inside inner sleeve with text in Italian, French, English & German.)

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Personnel:
Olivier Besenval (drums by 01., 03., 05., 06., 10.)
Claudio Dadone (guitar on 01., 03., 05. – 08. + 10.)
Pape Dieye (percussion on 06. + 07.)
Pier Mario Giovannone (guitar on 11.)
Jon Handelsman (saxophone on 03., 05. – o8.)
Zbigniew Kornowicz (violin on 03. + 10.)
David Lewis (trumpet, bugle, piano on 01., 03. – 08., 11. + 12.)
Paul Mayes (viola on 03. + 10.)
Juan Jose Mosalini Jr. (bandoneon on 03.)
François Moutin (bass on 01. – 03., 05. – 08. + 10.)
René Michel (accordion on 01., 03., 05. + 06)
Laurent Rannou (cello on 03. + 10.)
Joanna Rezler (violin on 03. + 10.)
Leonardo Sanchez (guitar on 01., 03. + 04.)
Gianmaria Testa (guitar, vocals)
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Quatuor Joachim String Quartett (on 03. + 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. Per Accompagnarti (arranged by Claudio Dadone) 4.03
02. Un Po’ Di Là Del Mare 3.20
03. Come Un’ America (arranged by Leonardo Sanchez) 4.30
04. Cavalli Di Frisia (arranged by David Lewis) 3.55
05. Il Mio Gallo (arranged by David Lewis) 4.00
06. Joking Lady (arranged by Claudio Dadone + David Lewis) 3.42
07. Il Viaggio (arranged by David Lewis) 3.35
08. Via Da Quest’ Avventura (arranged by Jon Handelsman) 3.10
09. La Ca Sla Colin-a  4.46
10. Un’ Altra Città (rranged by David Lewis) 3.15
11. Extra-Muros 3.40
12. Canto 2.50

All songs written by Gianmaria Testa

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