February 2004
“Altre Latitudini” (Other latitudes)

“Subtle songs of love from Italy. Other latitudes could be a perfect title for a world music compilation, but this new album from Italian singer – guitarist Gianmaria Testa is no such patchwork. It’s a mature and consistent recording, based on thought-provoking lyrics, evocative love songs and melodies that sounds like they’ve been distilled from the Piedmontese rain. The lyrics, in Italian, are thankful translated in the accompanying booklet, since an understanding of the words helps you savour this almost entirely acoustic map of the heart.
At the core of the music is Testa’s acoustic guitar, rough yet tender voice and unassuming attitude.
He displays a passion for ballads and a delicate ability to borrow the right flavours fom jazz (‘Dentro al cinema’), the Carribean (‘Sei la Conchiglia’) and Oriental sounds (‘Tuareg’). For his fifth recording, he has joined forces with long-time friend, reed player and arranger Piero Ponzo, with whom he created his best album, Montgolfières (1995 on Label Bleu, though recently re-edited by Harmonia Mundi). Ponzo provides arrangements for a variety of ensembles drawn from the dozen or so (mostly jazz) musicians featured, ranging from touching duos to the skilful horns- and – strings octet of the title track.
A rare gem is the calm dialogue of Testa’s voice and guitar with the piano of Rita Marcotulli on the Neapolitan composition ‘A Star’ by Fausto Mesolella. The latter also contributes two lyrical electric – guitar solos and, like the rest of the soloists, he’s clearly inspired by Testa’s melodies and the powerful rhythmic support of Enzo Pietropaoli (bass) and Philippe Garcia (drums). ”