Marco Cappelli was little known outside of his native Italy when he released the 2006 Extreme Guitar Project: Music From Downtown NYC, two discs of commissioned compositions with an implied statement of purpose that he was unabashedly inviting himself to the NYC experimental table.
Five years on it's clear that he's made his mark as a transplanted New Yorker. He did the music for the recent release of a DVD based on cartoonist/storyteller Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers, a 9/11 lament narrated by John Turturro. It was a beautiful realization of a difficult piece of work and at the same time it's hard to imagine anything — short of playing stickball with Scorcese — more deeply New York.
Both the Extreme Guitar Project and In the Shadow of No Towers were released by Mode Records, the New York label also behind Cappelli's new record. A smaller and nicely simpler project, Les nuages en France isn't so avowedly about his adopted home, but of course it doesn't need to be. The starting point this time is the French thriller novels of Fred Vargas and a series of poems based on them written by Barbara Raggi for the project. While the poems are included in the CD booklet, the music is presented instrumentally, by Cappelli on acoustic six-string, Ken Filiano on double bass and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion.
The poetry evokes a nice bit of noir police drama even if it provides settings more than scenes, and the same can be said for Cappelli's music. It's surprisingly light, not going for the lurid jazz soundtrack (a la Miles Davis' Elevator to the Gallows score). There's an ease to the melodies and to the trio's playing which is inviting and warm. Cappelli's both a technically proficient and an emotionally evocative player and it's nice, after some heavy-duty projects from him, to get a record as nice and easy as this.
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