Filomena Campus (voice) and Giorgio Serci (guitar) at Lauderdale House, Highgate, London: 6 February 2015
On a cold, dark winter’s evening, vocalist Filomena Campus and guitarist Giorgio Serci infused an evening of highly original music at a packed Lauderdale House, Highgate, with the warmth and sunlight of their native Sardinia. Celebrating the release of their album Scaramouche, they presented a cycle of songs composed by Serci, with lyrics by Campus and accompanied by the seven-piece Keld String Ensemble. It is a rare pleasure to hear Spanish guitar together with strings and the experience was heightened both by the care and artistry in Serci’s scoring for strings and by the Keld’s fine playing. Apart from Baltic Spellbound, in which he switched to electric guitar for an expressive solo, Serci played on a Spanish guitar all evening, with a beautiful, clear tone.
With a variety of rhythms and strong, memorable melodies over harmonies informed both by his classical guitar background and by his knowledge of contemporary jazz harmony, each song unfolded with its own distinctive character. In Hermetico, dedicated to the Brazilian master musician Hermeto Pascoal, Campus’ colourful lyric and chirpy vocal flurries over Serci’s insistent rhythms celebrated the spirit of its subject.
Filomena Campus has a remarkable voice which she uses to great expressive effect, whether caressing a melody with tender touches or dancing in a joyful improvisation, soaring and swooping. Her lyrics, mainly in English, reveal her ability to encapsulate a moment of friendship with a stranger in Round Midday, to paint a landscape in words in Baltic Spellbound, or to celebrate the power of the Mistral in Boghe ‘e Maestrale. She, together with Giorgio Serci’s guitar and the Keld String Ensemble are a winning combination that will please any audience with open ears, whether their interests lie primarily in jazz or classical music.
Giorgio Serci / Roberto Manzin's Silver Lining, released on Seadas Records in 2009, is a superb double frontline quartet effort, consisting of Serci's sublime guitar and Manzin's impassioned saxes (and clarinet), with renowned US bassist Harvie S and drum poet Enzo Zirilli, already familiar on this site through his association with phenomenal singer Sarah Gillespie, on traps and percussion, supplying the rhythm section.
This line-up works supremely well, with both outstanding ensemble and solo work. Indeed, it is nothing short of impressive. Serci's guitar and Manzin's woodwinds are just sublime, underlined by an equally exceptional rhythm section of Harvie S and Zirilli.
The material on Silver Lining consists of six Serci and three Manzin originals. Superb compositions, every one. Imaginatively through-composed, they also leave ample space for inventive improvs.
The music has a very conversational, very mediterranean feel to it, often particularly reflecting Sardinian influences, adding to this Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and other Latin colours as well as classical ones, while remaining firmly rooted in jazz. Sensitivity as well as passion emanate from all the players throughout Silver Lining. This is mediterranean informed jazz at its very best, no mistake about it. An absolute delight, one could listen to this mesmerising album for hours.
Silver Lining has consistency by the ton, and is more than compelling - absolutely magical, in fact. Intelligent yet beautiful and beautifully accessible at all times, this album is 'heart music' with stories to tell that keep one riveted with their deep emotion and passion, and, indeed, their tremendous warmth.
I'd recommend Giorgio Serci and Roberto Manzin's Silver Lining to any aficionado of mediterranean jazz, and indeed any lover of good music. This is a line-up that one really would love to hear much more from!
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