Actis Furioso is Carlo Actis Dato's big-band project, documented for the first time on this album. The lineup is built over Dato's longstanding quartet (sax player Piero Ponzo, bassist Enrico Fazio, and drummer Fiorenzo Sordini), adding two trumpeters (Luca Calabrese and Marco Rigoletti), a trombonist (Gianpiero Malfatto, also doubling on tuba), two extra saxophonists (Beppe Di Filippo and Pino Romeo), and a percussionist (Ferdinando Despaigne). If you start counting, that makes one hefty brass section! Ponzo arranged (and in some cases, rearranged) Dato's compositions, tapping into the man's natural "party band" vein, exacerbating it along the way. Jazz circus? Self-mocking modern-day ballroom orchestra? Italy's answer to Bulgarian wedding music? Yes, and then some. From hilariously impossible solos (Dato's opening blowout in "Melanconico Cha-Cha") to incongruous style zapping, social dance reinventions ("Melanconico Cha-Cha," again, but also "Portorico Smog," "Mar Tirreno," and many others), and half-drunk singing ("Oltremare," a ballad clearly not intended to move you), Actis Furioso are putting up a show that strikes a marvelous balance between bold musical proposition and sheer entertainment. In terms of performance, creativity, or even sound quality, this is not Dato's best -- but, in terms of fun and accessibility, Avanti Popolo! ranks high in the man's discography. The album has been assembled from two concerts recorded in November 2002 and December 2004. Splasc(H) released it as an enhanced CD with a six-minute video of live footage.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture