Alla Boara — drummer and composer Anthony Taddeo, vocalist Amanda Powell, trumpet player Tommy Lehman, guitarist Dan Bruce, bassist Ian Kinnaman and keyboardist and accordion player Clay Colley — performs a unique take on folk music from Italy, drawing on different traditions from the country.
“There’s a wide palette that’s offered in Italian folk music,” Taddeo says. “Most of these songs are in dialects that the average Italian does not know unless they’re from a very specific region. Our songs come from all over Italy.”
Alla Boara’s debut album Le Tre Sorelle (translating to 'The Three Sisters') arrives on Friday, Oct. 21 on Shifting Paradigm Records. The 10-song project culminates years’ worth of songwriting from Taddeo, completed mostly while he was a Youngstown State University graduate student studying composition. But Taddeo first discovered an interest in Italian folk music while an undergraduate student at the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music.
There, he came across 1950s Italian field recordings by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax.
“He captured this folk music that is so much more diverse and beautiful than anything I had previously associated with Italian folk music. That was the beginning of it for me,” Taddeo says. “I realized there was an opportunity to bring recognition back to this music. No one really knows that this exists, and no one really knows how eclectic and beautiful Italian folk music can be. My dad being from Italy, I thought I’d have an inside track on this information, and I just didn’t.”
Taddeo centers his take on Italian folk music on accessibility, incorporating rock, jazz and world music into the traditional genre. But the heart of Alla Boara’s sound remains in the songs sung by Italian blue-collar workers for generations, Taddeo says.
You can hear the band's eclectic approach on its two singles, the funky "Fimmene, Fimmene" and the driving, jazzy "C'Avanti C'è."
The album was recorded during the course of two days at the Centrum Theater in Cleveland Heights early last year. Local musician Joel Negus produced the project.
In addition to Alla Boara’s main ensemble, the album features additional performances by YSU students, percussionist Jamey Haddad, saxophonist Chris Coles and accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman.
Though Le Tre Sorelle looks to one country’s musical traditions, Taddeo hopes the album can inspire other musicians to look at their own backgrounds for inspiration.
“I think it’s really important that when people are writing new music, they don’t feel they have to sound like Taylor Swift. They can use things from their own personal heritage, to inspire them and to create new ideas — whether it’s art or music or whatever,” Taddeo says. “I’m hoping to inspire anybody of any ethnic heritage to take note that your musical heritage is a really fertile ground for creative cultivation.”