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(Photo: Annalisa Savoca)

Arezzo Wave Foundation works to bolster Italian music abroad

Visit the Arezzo Wave Foundation's (FAWI) Web site and you'll likely be amazed at the kinds of things the Tuscan non-profit is doing in the name of Italian youth culture. In addition to organizing and promoting the extremely popular annual Arezzo Wave Love Festival -- often dubbed Italy's Woodstock -- for the past 20 years, the organization has, for the past four, also been promoting Italian music across Europe and overseas.

The Foundation aims, in its words, "to maximize, preserve and increase the potential of youth culture and to maximize, promote and export Italian music abroad."

It's the kind of support that most hard working, independent musicians can usually only fantasize about.

In addition to a radio station, the foundation runs a number of competitions, allowing artists from across Italy to gain a wider audience. Arezzo Wave Band is for emerging groups, Elettrowave Challenge is for audio/visual artists and Cabawave is for cabaret performers. But there's also now Comicswave for graphic novelists and comic artists and Photowave for photographers.

A complete list of Arezzo Wave's activities would be far too lengthy to run here.

FAWI also helps Italian bands tour outside Italy and over the past two years, some of those performers have come to the United States, including Carmen Consoli, Fiamma Fumana, Linea 77 and Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel, most of which have performed in Chicago.

Avion Travel is also coming back this spring, along with Ferruccio Spinetti and Petra Magoni.

We took that opportunity to ask Mauro Valenti, artistic director of the festival and president of the foundation, about FAWI's history and mission and the promotion of Italian music in the United States.

BT: After the festival, how was the idea for the foundation born. Was there a model or is it the first example of a project of this kind?

MV: The Arezzo Wave Love Festival was born in 1987 and we are celebrating the 20th edition this year. The foundation on the other hand was…

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Miles / Trane set long overdue

It takes a Milwaukeean, sometimes, to get the job done. When ex-Brew City gal Cheryl Pawelski, who has worked in L.A. in the music biz for well over a decade took a job at Concord Records, which had just purchased the huge Fantasy Records jazz, blues, soul, folk and rock catalog, she promised this writer that good things were coming soon.

She didn't lie. The first fruit of her tenure in A&R at Concord has led to "The Miles Davis Quartet: The Legendary Prestige Sessions," which she assembled along with Stuart Kremsky and Nick Phillips.

Casting aside the cumbersome boxes of Fantasy's past, the trio has put every tune that Davis recorded with his group that included John Coltrane -- who was just beginning to formulate and master his sheets of sound technique-- pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones -- onto three discs in an attractive, slim box with a thick booklet.

There's also a fourth disc of unreleased materialm including seven tunes recorded on "The Tonight Show" in 1955 and a multi-media feature with five transcriptions of Davis solos.

The booklet is packed with photos and essays and recording information, but its the music that is the star here. Davis is the kind of musician that people either love or love to hate, but there's no question that, like Art Blakey, his bands served as jazz universities for decades.

With this group, he really introduced Coltrane to a wider audience via these recordings ("Relaxin'," "Steamin'," "Workin'" and "The New Miles Davis Quintet") and the ones recorded concurrently for Columbia. Often, that audience wasn't savvy enough to understand what the tenor man was up to, but as that changed, the world began to realize that the Davis quintet was one of the seminal bands in jazz.

In a recent e-mail, Pawelski -- who tapped a number of local bands for her Bruce Springsteen tribute project when she worked at EMI -- promised more goodies, but declined to get specific. We'll just have to wait and see.

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Mix tape May '06: Bobby Tanzilo

Usually the mix tape columns have been limited to a handful of discs, but this month there's been so many CDs spinning that I feel like an acrobat or, at the very least, like someone who needs a multi-CD changer.

At the top of the rotation is "Meds," the new disc from Placebo, whose smart, sassy, edgy punk, pop, prog cocktail is laced with sly lyrics full of references to chemicals and sex. But the melodies are always irresistible and one can't help but feel like singer Brian Molko's tongue is lodged firmly in cheek while singing some of these tunes. The Kills' Alison Mosshart guests on the title track and Michael Stipe appears on another, but you'd never know he was there if he wasn't credited.

From the moody midnight sound of "Follow the Cops Back Home" to the dance-y "Infra-Red" and the paean to what seems like a childhood friend/hero, "Drag," Placebo remains at the top of its game.

While everyone else is raving about Maximo Park, we're digging their pals Field Music, whose self-titled disc on Memphis Industries has the same post-punk herky-jerkiness with intelligent lyrics and engaging musical ideas, often featuring quirky keyboard sounds.

Calexico's "Garden Ruin" feels like the band's most commercial effort yet, but we're still swooning at the songs, which (gasp!) now sound more like '70s California rock than tumbleweed alt.country. Could he opener "Cruel," sound any more like Don McLean backed by the Mekons? We think not.

"At War With The Mystics," the new disc from The Flaming Lips has got us hooked, too, mostly because it's the first one in a while that sounds completely different; from the almost Prince-like "Free Radicals" to the "Give Peace a Chance" vibe of the single "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" and the cluttered breeziness of "The Sound of Failure/Is It Always This Dark?" In fact, it's not until track four, "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," that the familiar F-Lips sound crops up.

Josh Rouse's "Subtitulo," recorded in Spain, heralds the arrival of spring an…

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Mix tape March '06: Bobby Tanzilo

Since Julie Lawrence already extolled the virtues of the second disc by Sweden's The Sounds, suffice it to say it's been spending a lot of time gnawing away at the battery power in my iPod.

But so have these:

Recently, while searching the Internet to find out what had become of Cinnamon, one of my favorite Swedish pop bands, I stumbled on the site of Frida Diesen, singer of the now-defunct group and learned she's got a sort of homemade EP on Tender Objects. The self-titled, five-track disc is scrappier than Cinnamon's discs, but her distinctive pop coo and eclectic melodies and instrumentation remain and the EP is charming and addictive. Diesen appears to be using the disc to draw label attention and perhaps these songs will reappear in the future with more elaborate production. That, however, won't necessarily be an improvement on these earthy versions.

Find it at fridadiesen.com.

If you grew up in the late '70s listening to British music, you certainly remember the inimitable Television Personalities with their quirky tunes, heavy accents and ramshackle instrumental skills. A quarter century on, Dan Treacy and company are still working in a similar vein. The group's new disc, "My Dark Places" (Domino) -- its first in eight years -- was written entirely by Treacy during his stay in a floating Thames prison. Part Syd Barrett, part Sex Pistols, "My Dark Places" is starkly simply and direct and a window into Treacy's unique personality.

Keep your Lucinda Williams and keep your Bonnie Raitt. For me, the voice of southern rock is Garrison Starr whose new disc "The Sound of You and Me" is her second for Vanguard. Starr can rock hard and she excels at rootsy ballads, too (not unlike Aussie Kasey Chambers). She's sassy and sensitive and her songwriting skills are unmatched in her milieu. Someone once described Starr's plaintive music as "roadtrip music" and it certainly conjures vision of rolling down the windows in summer and heading out int…

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