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Having previously tackled the works of everyone from Bach to Billie Holiday, Frenchman Richard Galliano further showcases the versatility which has helped him to become the world's premier accordionist with this beautifully crafted tribute album to the legendary film composer Nino Rota. Recorded to celebrate the centenary of the late Italian's birth in 1911, its 20 tracks may lack the sweeping cinematics of the originals, but accompanied by a "dream team" quintet of trumpeter Dave Douglas, reedsman John Surman, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Clarence Penn, Galliano treats them to an equally stylish arrangement that's bravely improvisational but never less than respectful. Other than the mournful trombone solo of opener "The Godfather Waltz" and an exquisite double bass-led reworking of "The Godfather's Love Theme," both from Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 masterpiece, and the self-penned vaudeville toe-tapping finale "Nino," the album focuses entirely on his work with Federico Fellini. And it's when Galliano allows himself to really let loose that the album best brings these iconic themes, many of which are more than 50 years old, most vividly to life, whether it's the skittering musette-folk interpretation of "Amarcord," the eerie ambience which opens the seductive lounge pop of "Giulietta Degli Spiriti (Rosa Avrata)," or the tense, circus themed take on "La Strada." A testament to the talents of both its source of inspiration and one of the many musicians who he inspired, Nino Rota is a clever and affectionate homage which makes the transition from classical to jazz appear effortless. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
Born: December 12, 1950 in Le Cannet, France
Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s