Formed in 1975 in Southern Italy, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino showcases a smart blend of traditional folk songs and original music performed mostly by acoustic instruments (a handful of tunes feature an electric bass played by multi-instrumentalist Giulio Bianco). The original music is mostly written and arranged by musical director Mauro Durante (violin, percussion and vocals), who is the son of two of the band’s co-founders.
The six-piece ensemble—rounded out by Maria Mazzotta (vocals, castanets), Massimiliano Morabito (accordion), Giancarlo Paglialunga (percussion, vocals), Emanuele Licci (guitar, vocals, bouzuki), and Silvia Perrone (dance)—bring forth an energetic performance that showcases the culture and music of their region. The songs go from fast-paced tarantellas to love ballads like “Bella Ci Dorme,” a slow serenade whose lyrics speak of a man who sings under his loved one’s window as she comfortably sleeps, and fast-paced tarantellas such as “Tambbirriedhu Mia,” a percussion-rich tune in which audience members are invited to sing along to the chorus.
This is the first major North American tour for the ensemble, who is currently promoting their latest CD “Pizzica Indiavolata,” which features appearances by Malian kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko and singer-songwriter Piers Faccini. (Ernest Barteldes)
Sunday, February 17, Navy Pier’s Crystal Garden, 600 East Grand, (312)822-9545; noon. Free (registration required at http://canzonierenavypier.eventbrite.com/#)