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Songbook With String Orchestra

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Album Review

There is a lot of talent in the huge Songbook With String Orchestra production: among the 40 performers are 22 strings and such well-known Italian jazz stalwarts as trumpeter Alberto Mandarini, saxophonist Pietro Tonolo, and trombonist Danilo Moccia. The two vocalists, the suave Luca LaPenna (who contributed all the lyrics) and the silky-voiced diva Maria Patti, are among the country's best. Unfortunately, Giuseppe Emmanuele's syrupy, saccharine-drenched arrangements are aimed strictly at a commercial market, with little appeal to the serious listener, resulting in wonderful background music that would fit nicely on the many radio stations featuring jazz lite. Sometimes the musicians rise above the material, as on "Petals," sung gorgeously by Patti with superb lyrical support from Moccia. All of the pieces are originals by Emmanuele, and most are largely forgettable. Still, for those whose tastes are simple and more commercially based, and who enjoy the sounds of so-called smooth jazz, there are bound to be plenty of moments that delight. This is the sort of fare that sounds best late at night, with candles aflame accompanied by a bottle of wine. For anything else it is touch and go. The detailed packaging does not include any liner notes but does include LaPenna's insightful lyrics in both Italian and English.

Songbook With String Orchestra, Giuseppe Emmanuele
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