Pino Daniele

Electric Jam

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Electric Jam is a six-track, 25-minute EP by the great Neapolitan guitarist/ singer Pino Daniele. Its counterpart, Acoustic Jam, has been scheduled for November 2009 release, or six months after this first record. Daniele has justified his decision to split the release on the grounds that a budget disc (advertised at less than ten Euro, less than half the current price for a CD in Italy) is more appropriate for the current economic climate, and also, because he realized that, at least for him, album releases have become secondary to touring, and that he sells more CDs at concerts rather than at stores. Daniele thus chose to release the more energetic new material, the one that most benefits from live performances, just before the big summer touring season begins. The second, more intimate batch was saved for a late autumn release, to be savored at home in the winter. While these considerations are not without some reason, they also tacitly acknowledge the fact that Daniele's latest albums have met with less than spectacular sales, steadily accelerating his demotion into "has been" territory. Electric Jam is a positive improvement. True, it is not by a long shot of the same rank as Daniele's masterpieces of the late '70s/ early '80s. Still, it is a warm, engaging little album that showcases all that is great about Daniele: his passionate singing and playing, the impeccable musicianship of his collaborators (we are talking about heavyweights such as Vinnie Colaiuta, Nathan East, or Greg Mathieson), and the overriding love for life and music that infuses all of Daniele's work. Once again, however, one feels that Daniele's songwriting, and specifically his lyrics, are not up to the same level of everything else in this album. Wisely, Electric Jam advises us, from its very title, to look elsewhere, namely to the superb electric guitar playing that dominates the record. Fans of Santana or Pat Metheny will find much to rejoice in with Daniele's mixture of Latin, funk, jazz, and Neapolitan influences. Indeed, musically, Electric Jam has no weak points, and a few superlative highlights such as "Dimentica" and "Anime Che Girano." Electric Jam is a humble attempt on Daniele's part to touch base with his fans, or at least to try something a little different, as shown in the duet with rapper J-Ax on the single "Il Sole Dentro di Me." Surprisingly, the rather improbable combination acquits itself quite honorably -- as, in fact, this entire mini-album does.

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