I like the way Luca Ciarla’s mind works. Music, the Italian seems to suggest, is a game in which one toys with idiom and mood, while appropriating whatever makes it more fun, whether that’s his own superlative facility on the violin, electronic gadgetry, compositional diversity or improvised interaction. Even the instrumentation breeds an inherent lightness, with Vince Abbracciante often playing accordion rather than piano and Francesco Savoretti as likely to play percussion as drum-kit, while Nicola di Camillo provides both acoustic and electric bass.
This playfulness could be an end in itself, but it actually leads to fascinating musical outcomes. The pieces in a Thelonious Monk medley are so gloriously reimagined, for instance, as to seem new-minted, and yet the light-heartedness can instantly give way to a heartfelt ‘Round Midnight. Even Caravan and A Night in Tunisia receive fresh coats of paint in the textures and arrangements. Fundamentally defining the band is Ciarla’s swooping, soaring, laughing, crying, lyrical violin, which can swap between childlike elation and grown-up intensity bar by bar.