Slivovitz (named after a Central and Eastern European plum brandy) can cite the exact date of the group’s formation: September 27, 2001, when, according to a Web interview with saxophonist Pietro Santangelo, Slivovitz came together after a spontaneous street jam. The group mixes jazz and rock with a variety of other styles, notably Balkan and Gypsy influences, which Slivovitz began exploring after a 2003 trip to Hungary. The band’s eponymous debut album was recorded in 2004 and released by an Italian imprint; Slivovitz subsequently signed with the New York-based MoonJune label, which released Hubris (mainly new compositions but also including three remastered tracks from the debut) in 2009. Hubris featured a seven-piece lineup (with several guests) -- bassist Domenico Angarano, drummer Stefano Costanzo, guitarist Marcello Giannini, vocalist Ludovica Manzo, harmonica player Derek di Perri, saxophonist Santangelo, and violinist Riccardo Villari -- enabling the group to engage in sometimes startling stylistic shifts from jazz-rock to Balkan, Afro-beat, funk, Latin jazz, and even tinges of Canterbury. Manzo’s appealing vocals accentuated the group’s sometimes breezy Mediterranean flavor, and upon her departure Slivovitz took a more concise and high-energy rock-informed approach with 2011’s Bani Ahead, their second MoonJune outing. Bani Ahead also featured two new members: drummer Salvatore Rainone replacing Costanzo; and trumpeter Ciro Riccardi, whose presence (along with Giannini's harder-edged guitar and a greater focus in the band's overall songwriting and arranging) gave Slivovitz a punchier, brassier flavor and also brought interludes suggesting the cinematic influence of Mark Isham.
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