Pugno & Sugar Ray Norcia - Look What I Found Out!
Run Time: 69:51
Bear with me for a moment. I had to do some
research on this guy after I heard this CD. Relatively unknown
outside of his homeland in Italy and blues fans across Europe,
Maurizio Pugno (pronounced POON-yo) has been one of the most well-travelled
and well-respected blues and jazz guitarists for over 25 years.
Touring with the likes of Sugar Ray, Tad Robinson, and Dave Specter
to name a few when they’ve chanced to be on European soil has been
Pugno’s calling card as a celebrated accompanist. After a chance
meeting backstage at a blues festival in 2004, Pugno and one of the
most celebrated vocalists in blues today Sugar Ray Norcia met up and
struck up a friendship. After four years, the two decided to get
together in a medieval church in Italy and record the fifteen tunes
we’ve received here. Ranging from bop jazz, to swing, to soul-blues
and Chicago blues, this album really spans the spectrum of great
traditional American music. Normally, I’m very hesitant and dare I
say a bit prejudice when it comes to foreign folks trying to
replicate the earthy and rich tones of great American jazz or even
blues for that matter, because Italy is a long way from the grit of
Maxwell Street or the Delta.
However, after Pugno’s rich hollow-bodied
guitar took off into the first notes of the jazzy-blues of the first
track “Opening Act,” conjuring thoughts of T-Bone Walker at times, I
was hooked. Then, Sugar Ray Norcia steps in on the horn-driven
Roomful of Blues sounding “That Crazy Girl of Mine” and you know
everything is going to be alright. Pugno’s Italian cast of musicians
won’t be household names to folks but I’ll mention them here because
they are quite brilliant, especially the highly-touted organ and
piano playing of Alberto Marsico. Follow that up with the Leg Horns,
Gio Rossi on drums, Lucio Villani on upright bass, and some guest
appearances by Pugno’s old band the Rico Blues Combo and you have
quite a combination on some well-seasoned musicians.
From Jimmy Reed’s lumpty lump on “It Must Be
You” and “I Love You Baby” accompanied by the great harmonica work
of Norcia to the funky soul-blues of “A Mind to Give It Up,” the
band and Pugno’s playing offer surprise after surprise. Also, check
out the updated big band version of the Muddy Waters’ classic “I
Love the Life I Live.” Also, if you aren’t quite convinced of organ
man Marsico, you need to check out the aptly-titled gospel-jazz of
“The Preacher” and you won’t have to look further.
Like I said earlier, if you are a little hesitant about seeing an
unknown foreign guy, here’s where you put those aside and go with
it. Norcia is well worth it and Pugno will convince you, too that
sometimes, even if being far removed from the source of the music,
one can still manage to pour good tasteful and heartfelt style and
emotion into it.
Check Maurizio Pugno out on Myspace at
http://www.myspace.com/mauriziopugno or at
Pacific Blues. The
album is only available for purchase at
Pacific Blues or from his
Reviewer Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.