Gianmaria Testa and Paolo Fresu

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Joe’s Pub; Sun, May 25

Stuck in town for Memorial Day weekend? Get off the pity pot, because you have a rare chance to hear Italy’s classiest and most seductive singer-songwriter sharing the stage with a trumpet and flügelhorn master.

Gianmaria Testa’s smoky tones and low-key but devastating way with a song have won him a devoted, largely word-of-mouth following in Western Europe. His Le Chant du Monde CD Da questa parte del mare (“on these shores”) won Italy’s prestigious Targa Tenco as the best album of 2007—remarkable, given the concept album’s stance of solidarity with immigrants, a bold, against-the-grain position in increasingly neofascist Italy. Testa’s latest release is a reissue of 1999’s haunting, lunar Lampo, whose tango-flecked title cut dances on the edge of the abyss, telling of life that is “right now—the flash of a photograph—it dazzles your eyes, you seek it, and it’s gone.”

Sardinian Paolo Fresu shares with Testa an introspective style that allows a whisper to tell more than a bang, a silence to take on the power of either a wound or a caress. His earthy, acerbic playing has been heard most recently on Carla Bley’s ECM CD The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu. During the past several years, Testa and Fresu have toured a show honoring the French songwriter and anarchist Léo Ferré. Look for highlights from Testa’s songbook, a tribute to the great Léo and a surprise or two when these Italian wizards make magic.

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