What the hell is a Cimbasso?

What the hell is a Cimbasso? Ask yourself, confirm that you have no idea and then try to imagine all of the possibilities. Picture a tyrannosaurus rex singing with the lyrical adeptness of Luciano Pavarotti or a powerful yellow bulldozer covered in rose petals, maybe Quasimoto dining at Italy’s finest establishment with his drop-dead gorgeous date for the evening … exactly! getting closer … now relax into the idea of low, soothing tones and the gentle caresses of Italian love songs being performed on the greatest instrument never heard- the Cimbasso.

Andrew Bove recently released Cimbasso D’Amore, the world’s first solo Cimbasso CD. Ever. WHAT?!  Yes! Ingeniously packaged, this ground-breaking collection of Italian songs offers every listener the opportunity to fall in love with cimbasso (honestly, it’s difficult not to be charmed by this ancient predecessor of bass trombone and tuba). Primarily used in the days of Verdi and Puccini, the cimbasso was traditionally delegated to supporting roles in opera orchestras and, more recently, the “felt but not heard” rumblings in the background of movie soundtracks. Not anymore! Carsten Fleck, who photographed Bove with his cimbasso last year, revealed “the instrument has also been featured on Korn’s Unplugged concert with MTV.” What?! I later discovered that Korn employed two cimbassos on that gig- Andrew Bove and Morris Kainuma.

The serene sound that Mr. Bove persuades out of this beastly instrument is absolutely astonishing. The opening track, Caruso, grabbed my attention and quayed my doubts as the music immediately painted images of love, river-walks, cafes, Italy and emotion. This stunningly beautiful song was composed by Lucio Dalla in 1986 and has been made famous by numerous world-renowned operatic tenors such as Luciano Pavarotti, followed by Andrea Bocelli (who sold 16 million copies of this song on his first international album. Listen HERE). Josh Groban also sang it, but we won’t talk about that…

So, is there music written for solo cimbasso? Nope…but given is time of birth, opera aria transcriptions and bel canto-type songs fit the beast perfectly. Cimbasso D’Amore hosts selections from Puccini’s “Turandot” and “La Boheme,” Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” and songs that showcase the many sounds of love. Programming familiar music encourages the listener (despite the odd instrumentation) and these specific melodies have been vessels of expression for countless performers. What would a collection Italian songs be without Nessun Dorma? NOTHING! Thankfully, Bove was one step ahead. One of the most popular tenor arias of all-time, Nessun Dorma has proven itself as a cornerstone for many of “the greats” (Pavarotti, among others but his interpretation remains a favorite. Watch HERE). I found myself listening to the CD and waiting for the high notes, thinking, “Will Andy get up there?! Can the Cimbasso do it?!” YES! The strength of the cimbasso orchestrated with violin, cello, string bass and piano lends itself to both beauty and power.

I had to chuckle as O Sole Mio concluded the CD. In my defense, I laugh every time I hear this tune. It reminds me of that movie from the early 90s with the frog, by the pond…but anyways, the track is done to perfection and is a delightful closer. After navigating a journey through sentimental love songs, Bove leaves the listener in good spirits- craving pasta and red wine. Wayne J. du Maine (flugelhorn) butters the bread right up as the musicians perform effortlessly. It is impossible to ignore the level of musicianship and formal musical training attained by the performers involved in the making of this CD (see below).

Listen to the CD and just try not to get lovey-dovey (or hungry), I dare you. Not sure how you will satisfy that hunger but if you need more copies of Cimbasso D’Amore, go to CDBaby or andrewbove.com. Get your cimbasso groove on but if you like it – don’t blame me, blame Bove.

Produced at Bove Audio by: Andrew Bove, Mike Boschen and Sycil Mathai.
Musical arrangements by: Michael Atkinson, Andrew Bove, Christopher Kenniff, Ljova, Brian Mahany and Jason Wingate. Additional music preparation by: Bryan Doughty.
Guest performers include: Elissa Cassini (violin), Ljova (viola), Susannah Chapman (cello), Anthony Scelba (double bass), Alexander Fiterstein (clarinet), Wayne J. du Maine (flugelhorn), Mike Boschen (trombone), Denson Paul Pollard (bass trombone), Christopher Kenniff (guitar) and Allison Brewster Franzetti (piano).
CD Photos by: Purple Critter

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