Release Date: May 10, 2020
Terra is the sophomore album from award-winning Italian singer, songwriter, producer and educator Sissy Castrogiovanni. The album, the title of which refers to Mother Earth, is a meditation on our spiritual and environmental conception of our home planet which reminds the listener to trust the Earth’s divine ability to manage the vast landscape of life that lies within. Fully sung in Sicilian dialect, Sissy’s compositions are an attractive synthesis of musical cultures; a pleasurable intricacy of her Sicilian and Mediterranean influences, earthy African rhythms, tribal voices and avant-garde jazz harmonies. Alongside Sissy on this album is a heavy-hitting personnel including pianist Tim Ray; bassist Jesse Williams; saxophonist Lihi Haruvi; guitarist Claudio Ragazzi; percussionists Jamey Haddad, Marcus Santos, Fabio Pirozzolo; drummer Jorge Perez-Albela; and multi-instrumentalist Puccio Castrogiovanni performing two traditional Sicilian instruments: the marranzano and zampogna, as well as lending his vocals. The album also features a string quartet and a vocal choir in some of the songs.
The album’s theme of the Earth, as a place where science and spirituality intertwine, found its inspiration after Sissy studied a book of Genetic and Developmental Biology. The vocalist was amazed by the process through which life is created at an atomic level - the purpose and intention necessary for two atoms to unite to create larger organic compounds, which spontaneously self-assembly to determines the development of every living organism, humans, plants, animals, from a single cell to a complex being. “How perfect”, notes the artist, “How magical, how incredible is this whole process called: creation of life. It has been happening on the Earth every single second for billions of years. Terra, Mother Earth, knows what and how to do things way better and before us. We have lots to learn from Her.” Sissy goes on to note, “This album is about the Earth’s astonishing power, which also lives within us. Terra is about trusting this power, the magic of life, and the Earth’s millennial wisdom.”
The album’s title track “Terra” (Earth) tackles big questions about our understanding of this planet. The song also makes strong environmental statements, “Listen deeply, do you hear it? Now she is crying for mercy. Who gave you the right to play God? How can you look into your children’s eyes, while poisoning the food that satiates their hunger? Who told you this Mother would remain silent while watching its destruction?”
The album begins with Sissy’s arrangement of the American traditional folk song “Wayfaring Stranger” with lyrics in Sicilian, and a beautiful reharmonization that sets the tone for the sonic exploration of this release. Sissy titled this arrangement “Gandalf”, a wise and calming presence through the path of the wayfaring stranger in the song. The song brings the listener into the mindset of a land-dweller, exploring rugged terrain with ease and enjoyment. The next track “Magia” (Magic), is a lively piece adorned with African rhythms. The inspiration for this composition is the way in which humans often make choices based on the belief that life is difficult and that dreams are only reserved for a privileged few. Sissy asks a provocative question: would we have made the same choices if we were instead all taught as children that life reserves the best for us, that wonderful opportunities will arise, that we are the lucky ones, that we are magicians endowed with powerful spells, and we could fly high with our fantasies?
The wistful, reflective “‘Nsonna” is a ballad that Sissy wrote for her son. Sissy exclaims “To my son, Manuel: Dream. Dream big. Dream, always. Even if sometimes it might seem difficult. Even if someone may not understand your reasons.” Other important messages that the artist wants to convey are about trusting our guts and inner instinct (“‘A Panza”); about self-forgiveness and acceptance (“Paci”); about unity and love for the humanity, in an imaginary land where soul’s healing is possible (“Ama”).
The final track on the album “E Vui Durmiti Ancora” is Sissy’s rendition of a traditional Sicilian serenade about love. The lyrics are “Wake up! Look out the window! The sun is rising again, and I’m still here singing my love for you.” A sweet childhood memory to mark the end of a compendium of compositions written about love, faith, magic and the Earth’s bounty.
More About the Artist
Sissy Castrogiovanni is a Sicilian award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and educator. Based in New England, and musically rooted in her native island Sicily, her arrangements and compositions are an attractive synthesis of musical cultures. Sissy’s music is an amalgamation of her Sicilian and Mediterranean influences, earthy African rhythms, tribal voices and avant-garde Jazz harmonies. With her unique way of bridging contemporary Jazz with Sicilian idioms. Sissy’s music finds its niche between the vast sea of jazz and world music.
Sissy has toured extensively throughout Europe, the United States and South America, and has collaborated with numerous distinguished musicians including Bobby McFerrin and Javier Limon and has excelled in performance with Jack DeJohnette, and Patrice Rushen, to name a few. With a warm voice that’s been praised for its rare vocal extension, vocal control, expression and versatility by influential publications such as Jazziz Magazine, WNPR and Downbeat Magazine, Castrogiovanni’s soulful and powerful sound lets us discover a new universe, where her extremely rich melodies become soundscapes that transport us immediately into a world full of life and art.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
"Her voice is crystal clear and pleasing as it floats above contemporary jazz harmonies and African and Mediterranean rhythms." Read the full review here.
TRAVIS RODGERS JR
THE JAZZ OWL
"Sissy Castrogiovanni’s Terra is a description of, and a prescription for, life in harmony—harmony with the world, the human family, and ourselves. The compositions and arrangements are remarkable and the performances are stellar. The album is more than a CD, it is a philosophical-spiritual treatise."Read the full review here.
MAKING A SCENE
It may have been John Coltrane who once said, “You don’t have to understand it, you just have to feel It.” Whether we understand Sissy or not, it’s impossible to not feel her passion. Her talent is off the charts too. Read the full review here.