Taking a page out of the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" history book, a concert tour featuring acts in John Turturro's film about Neapolitan music begins July 29 in Genoa and Turturro has begun exploring a way to bring the acts to the U.S.
Peppe Barra, James Sense, Raiz & Almamegretta, Pietra Montecorvino, Gennaro Cosmo Parlatto, Misia and M'Barka Ben Taleb are participating in a tour that will hit Rome and other Italian cities before culminating Sept. 15 at the Arena Flegrea in Naples.
Turturro's film, "Passione," has played numerous festivals around the world - Venice, Toronto, Houston - and opened for limited runs in New York, Miami and Seattle. The film opens July 22 in Los Angeles.
Turturro told Billboard he will attend the first performance on the tour.
"I tried to not make a historical document," Turturro says. "It's music caught in the moment that's connected to the past but it's vibrant and still living. Many of the songs were recorded live … and since it's music in a different language, you have to work a little harder. With Buena Vista Social Club I listened to it 10 times and read the liner notes before I understood it."
Universal Music has released the soundtrack to "Passione" digitally and physically and Turturro says a DVD release will be later this year. "We want to work it as long as we can. We feel that when sharing this music in a communal setting, it's even better."
Turturro, whose family hails from Sicily and Puglia, shot 23 performances in 21 days with the idea of showing the variety of the music that has originated in Naples. As a port city, Neapolitan music is stamped with rhythms from North Africa and Spain and melodies of the Middle East and United States; as he points out in the film, Naples taxed musicians more than actors and playwrights, which led to more songs that told stories and could be presented on the stage.
"All of these singers," he says of the city most famous for "O Sole Mio," "are terrific storytellers and many are super actors. They need to express the human condition. Improvisation is in the art of the poor and they have that in their DNA. You see it in the music of New Orleans and Havana and Rio. They are masters of improvisation. They present their stories with a total lack of narcissism."
Passione Soundtrack Track List:
1. Carmela (Mina)
2. Vesuvio (Spakka-Neapolis 55)
3. Era de maggio (Misia / Avion Travel)
4. Comme facette mammeta (Pietra Montecorvino)
5. O' sole mio (Sergio Bruni / Massimo Ranieri / M'Barka Ben Taleb)
6. Maruzzella (Gennaro Cosmo Parlato)
7. Malafemmena (M. Ranieri)
8. Don Raffae (Peppe Barra)
9. Bammenella (Angela Luce)
10. Nun te scurda (Almamegretta / Raiz / P. Montecorvino / M. Ben Taleb)
11. Passione (Vocal)/ Passione (Instrumental) (James Senese)
12. Passione (Strumentale - Film Mix) (James Senese)
13. Pistol Packin' Mama ( Al Dexter & His Troopers)
14. Tammuriata nera (P. Barra / Max Casella / M. Ben Taleb)
15. Catari (Fausto Cigliano)
16. Caravan petrol (Fiorello / John Turturro / M. Casella / Enzo Avitabile)
17. A vucchella (Enrico Caruso)
18. Canto delle lavandaie del Vomero (Fiorenza Calogero / Lorena Tamaggio / Daniela Fiorentino)
19. Faccia gialla (E. Avitabile / Bottari)
20. Dove sta Zaza (P. Montecorvino with M. Casella)
21. Indifferentemente (Misia)
22. Napul'e (Pino Daniele)
23. Sangh'e (J. Senese)