What is now called folk music arose from various sources, one of which was transcriptions by trained musicians that fixed older pieces and kept them in the repertory; Jordi Savall and other musicians from various countries have recorded these pieces. Occhi Turchini, by vocalist Pino de Vittorio and his Laboratorio '600 group, who have already recorded a similar album of Sicilian music, is an album of Calabrian folk music. It succeeds on many counts, and is of interest not only to those interested in old Italian traditions, but to anyone who wants to sample this entire movement: it's exceptionally well done. One of the strengths is the singing of de Vittorio himself, who takes a bit of a dramatic approach, albeit often one of low comedy. Many times, he's working with texts in the unusual Calabrian language (and even in Albanian), but he inhabits them and makes them fun. He also organizes the program intelligently, never falling into the rut of similarity that plagues so many recordings based on old manuscripts. There are brilliant instrumental pieces, satires, an operatic adaptation, murky love songs, and more. The pieces included display a great variety of national influences, including African. Not all the pieces are taken from manuscripts: Some of the songs have survived into the 20th and 21st centuries and were transcribed from field recordings -- one by none other than the famed American musical folklorist Alan Lomax. A delightful collection, equally attractive for specialists and general listeners; one may question only Glossa's choice of a church as a recording venue for this earthily secular music.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim