Italian singer Joe Barbieri’s seventh studio album is a tribute to Billie Holiday that unfolds like a letter, an imperative confession. “Two pillars of jazz have forged me more than any other – Chet Baker and Billie Holiday,” explains Barbieri.

“To the first, I dedicated an album a few years ago [‘Chet Lives!’]. I still owed a debt of gratitude to Lady Day, which, with this project, I hope not so much to extinguish (that is impossible) but at the very least to sublimate. As a kid, listening to Billie’s songs allowed me to enter into a ‘different’ emotional dimension and gave me access to a range of sensations that were already mine even though I wasn’t yet aware of it. And, thanks to her, thanks to her way of singing to the world, I felt understood, watched over, forgiven.”

Three other bigshots of the Italian jazz scene, Luca Bulgarelli (double bass), Pietro Lussu (piano) and Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet) also throw their weight behind this private story, providing artful measure, emotional heft and great intensity to bring about the right sonorous framework for classic songs such as ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’, ‘The End Of A Love Affair’ and ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, to name just a few, as well as the eponymous ‘Dear Billie’ (the only new song on the record and its first single), in which Barbieri’s dreamy yet suggestive voice moves freely and incisively in this vibrant and very personal letter.

Joe Barbieri is a fascinating anomaly. In many ways a music industry outsider, he has nevertheless been able to build a career around a very personal journey while winning the approval of critics, colleagues and his sizeable audience. His 2004 debut album, ‘In Parole Povere’, was an irresistible melting pot that combined world music and jazz via traditional Italian ‘cantautori’. Its follow-up, ‘Maison Maravilha’ (2009), included both the beautiful ballad ‘Normalmente’ and ‘Malegría’, a haunting fado on which Barbieri duetted with Cuban star Omara Portuondo (also of Buena Vista Social Club).

A subsequent tour resulted in the live CD/DVD package ‘Maison Maravilha Viva’ (2010), recorded in Rome. 2012’s ‘Respiro’ was promoted with an extensive worldwide tour, while the following year saw Barbieri record ‘Chet Lives!’ on the 25th anniversary of the death of legendary singer/musician Chet Baker. ‘Cosmonauta Da Appartamento’ (2015) featured an experimental title song that aimed to raise awareness of the growing migrant and refugee crisis by incorporating audio tracks sent in by fans all over the world that were then mixed in the studio.

Barbieri’s most recent release is 2017’s minimalist Latin jazz focussed ‘Origami’.

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