FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Fabrizio Poggi & Chicken Mambo - Spirit & Freedom

Ultra Sound Records


Italian singer-harmonica player Fabrizio Poggi is an unknown quantity to me. Having never heard his previous work I have nothing to compare his latest to. Which isn’t necessary as his band and a laundry list of guest players have given us a thoughtful and comforting experience. If you need a label, it’s his interpretation of American roots music. Gospel, folk, country and blues have found a place to rest here. The guests, known and unknown contribute to the sound, but the main drive seems to come from the band itself. The interplay of slide guitars, harmonica, accordion, organ, voices and whatever else lull you into a peaceful place that you don’t want to leave. Fabrizio’s accent forces you to strain your ears in places, but his warm talk-singing lends an authenticity to the overall sound. Various cover songs, traditional songs and one original convey Fabrizio’s vision of “Spirit & Freedom”. In his media handout he states-“Indeed, there is no spirituality without freedom and there is no freedom without spirituality”.

What better way to kick off a concept album of this sort than with The Blind Boys Of Alabama lending their mournful gospel vocals to “I’m On My Way” with Charlie Musselwhite providing his harmonica magic on this slow spiritual. Dobro, harmonica and accordion provide the cushion for this tune to float on. The interplay of organ, accordion and harmonica give “I Shall Be Released” that “Band” vibe, and even a gentle wah-wah solo adds to the effect. Stefano Intelisano enhances nicely here and elsewhere with his Hammond organ washes. “Stayed On Freedom” bops online nicely abetted by legend Augie Meyers tasty organ and the gruff vocals of Guy Davis, helped by the Texas Hill Country Gospel Choir. Leonard Cohen’s over used “Halleuja” is mercifully mostly just hallejula repeated over another brilliant turn on organ by Mr. Intelisano. Fabrizio’s lilting accordion drifts through Gram Parson’s “In My Hour Of Darkness” along with the harmonica of Mickey Raphael. Erica Opizzi sounds delightfully little-girlish with her counterpoint backup vocal.

The Reverend Gary Davis is represented with “I Heard The Angels Singin’”. The other-worldly of organ and church-like vocals of Eric Bibb add to the revival feel along with Fabrizio’s warm-your-heart vocals. Kris Kristofferson’s “They Killed Him” is given a particularly poignant reading by Fabrizio, a song that features a brief electric slide solo by Gianfranco Scala that aches.The song talks of the assassinations of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The lone Frabrizio composition “Jesus Called Me In Heaven” fits in perfectly among the sound of the traditional fare. It’s about his wish to join the heavenly band along side such heroes as Mississippi John Hurt and Johnny Cash. Hearing Debbi Walton’s voice for the first time on “Spiritual” is an Oh-My-God moment. Once again the combined strengths of voices, guitar, Fabrizio’s Harmonica and Stefano Intelisano’s organ lift this song to a higher level. Nora Guthrie’s reading of her father Woody Guthrie’s poem “My Peace” as a lead-in to Woody’s “Jesus Christ” is a guaranteed tear-jerker. “Mr. Bojangles” seems out of place among these spirituals, but it speaks to the individual’s spirit persevering against personal demons. Folksinger Tish Hinojosa helps out Fabrizio with her crystalline pipes.

Prepare to have more of your tears jerked by “He Was A Friend of Mine”, with its melancholy lyric and reading underscored with instrumental plaintiveness. Accordion master Flaco Jimenez blends well with Fabrizio’s harmonica on Willy Deville’s romatic “Heaven Stood Still”. Billy Joe Shaver’s world weary voice along with Fabrizio’s makes us believe they will “Live Forever” on this rendition of Billy Joe’s song. Guy Davis and the Texas Hill Country Massed Choir close things out with a rousing “Glory Glory” and a snippet from Martin Luther King…..”We want to be free”.

Upon finishing my listen to this, I couldn’t help but feeling I had crossed through years of American history and suffering across this land, buffered by this intertwining music that gives you the sense of traveling the country. Mr. Poggi, his band and able friends can be proud of what they accomplished here. Sometimes it takes outsiders to get into and under the real spirit of someone else’s music to full light. The whole band shines throughout especially Fabrizio’s vocals and harmonica, Mr. Intelisano’s organ playing and that of string-master Gianfranco Scala on guitars, ukulele and mandolin. After hearing this, these guys are sure to provide many more years of enduring music.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design