Instead of coming with a regular CD cover, Muorica comes as a beautiful 40 page 6X9 full colour book with the stories behind the songs, Michael Occhipinti's photographs, some sheet music and even some travel advice and recipes.
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Modica, Mourica, Moak, Mohak, Motuca, Muòrica - the city has been given a variety of names, with the Greek and Arabic variations both meaning "castle" or “fortress" in reference to the city’s defensive advantage because it is built up the cliff walls on either side of a very deep river valley. In Sicilian, it's Muòrica.
A few weeks after I arrived in Sicily, some folk musicians I’d met invited me to go to a book launch that a poet named Fabio Messina was having at a fantastic country house. There were a number of other poets, and after Fabio showed slides of the illustrations from his book, and read a few poems, we had a great meal, and then a variety of poets were all invited to read. I’d been told that if I brought a guitar, I wouldn’t have to pay for my meal, so I happily obliged, and a singer named Cecilia Pitino and I did a few songs together in between the readings, and it’s a night that has really stuck with me. Like Fabio Messina, who I subsequently got to hang out with in his Unesco heritage city Palazzolo Acreide, the poets I heard that night were writing in Sicilian instead of Italian, and they were all incredibly passionate about celebrating their language and not losing it. Among them was the poet Franca Cavallo, whose poem Muorica I later came across in a book. The poem celebrates the city of Modica, and talks about how it’s a city where one is always ascending (it is a cliff city full of staircases afterall). I’m so pleased she likes the music I put behind her words.
a town, where
always you must ascend
Look at it, by night, by night this town
it looks like a Nativity scene created by artists
who gave all of their heart and spirit
to make it with this vista
The streets and the stairs that climb
look like silk under the lamp lights
they run like so many children
while the enchanted moon looks on
Everywhere you turn, you see stone walls
where capers and prickly pears are growing.
When the summer comes, and the sun ripens them,
it is a paradise full of stars
released June 15, 2015
Music by Michael Occhipinti, lyrics by Franca Cavallo
Pilar - vocals
Michael Occhipinti - guitar
Don Byron - clarinet
Louis Simao - accordion
Roberto Occhipinti - bass
Mark Kelso - drums
The Cecilia String Quartet
Produced by Michael Occhipinti and Roberto Occhipinti
Recorded, mixed, and edited at the Drive Shed, Toronto, 2015 by John Bailey, assisted by Taylor Koernohan. Mastered by Peter Letros at Wreckhouse Mastering, Toronto
Michael Occhipinti & The Sicilian ProjectToronto, Ontario
“A triumphant recording on many levels” Michael G. Nastos Billboard
Occhipinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project dazzles audiences with its mix of Sicilian folk & jazz, global grooves, & chamber music, with old world Sicily meeting the global sound of Toronto. The group received a 2009 JUNO Award nomination (Canada’s Grammy) & the prestigious Ragusani nel Mondo Award...more