SFJAZZ.org | Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

On The Corner Masthead


June 18, 2019 | by Rusty Aceves


5 Things You Should Know About Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CSG) and their leader Mauro Durante

1) Group leader, percussionist and violinist Mauro Durante succeeded his father, Daniele Durante, as director of CGS and was named musical assistant to renowned composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi at age 26. He appeared on the Nightbook album and toured globally with Einaudi.

2) Durante has collaborated with many international artists, many at Italy’s Notte della Taranta festival, including drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police, Indian percussion master Trilok Gurtu, French-Lebanese jazz trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, Malian kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko, French accordionist Richard Galliano, and English singer/songwriter Piers Faccini.

3) CGS has recorded 18 albums and performed in the USA, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. In 2010, CGS was awarded Best Italian World Music Group at the Meeting of Independent Labels festival in Italy.

4) Most of the songs played by the CGS are music for dance: the traditional dance of the Salento region of Italy, called pizzica or, nowadays, taranta. This dance is linked to a local cultural phenomenon called tarantism; sometimes it is danced between woman and man as a form of courtship. The main pulse is provided by a frame drum, the tamburello, which resounds like a never-stopping beating heart. 

5) The most studied cultural phenomenon of Salento, tarantism is popularly believed to result from the bite of a kind of spider called taranta (tarantula). The spider’s bite would put its victims (tarantati) in a state of heightened excitability and restlessness that could only be overcome by engaging in frenzied dancing. Tarantism is a ritual of possession that includes the playing of pizzica tarantata. 

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino perform 6/20 as part of the 37th San Francisco Jazz Festival.