I remember the first time I heard Pino Daniele sing “Napule é” — Luciano Pavarotti and Pino Daniele took the stage for the first of many televised charitable concerts. I sat mesmerized listening to his unique jazzy Neopolitan sound echoing with an angelic like voice.
Pino Daniele left an impression on me like no other; “Someday I’ll hear him live,” I thought. Someday arrived!
On Saturday, June 9, Pino Daniele played Berklee Performance Center. He captivated the audience with his sound, talent and sheer adoration for his music. He took the stage with a relaxed walk and stood calmly in the center.
Immediately he began playing an extended set, moving seamlessly from song to song.
At one point, Pino briefly paused to introduce his band, who supported his sound with grace and creative power. Each member played with command and passion that captivated onlookers. As his introductions moved around the stage (Omar Hakim on drums, Rachel Z on piano, Gianluca Podio on keyboard, and Solomon Dorsey on bass), every member had the opportunity to offer a sample of their talents. A tantalizing effect was felt by the audience. Benissimo!!
Pino played “Coffee Time” and “Boogie Boogie Man” to an audience who repeatedly chanted “Pino, Pino!”
The sighs in the background from the audience were truly telling. Not a single person in the crowd could contain themselves as he engaged playfully with the lyrics and his musicians. These songs reminded listeners that Pino is multifaceted in his approach. He knows how to engage with both his instruments and the audience, never leaving either lacking for attention.
When Pino stood to sing “I Still Love You,” everyone sat silently. A feeling of pure awe at his flair for lyrical composition came over the briefly silenced crowd. This song, much like all of Pino’s, is heartfelt and bursting with passion. It is apparent that he feels every note. His lyrics are insightful and speak to the listener as if they were in a conversation with Pino. His sound moves onlookers with a spiritual-like quality, allowing for his admirers to be lost in a musical moment.
“Je So Pazz,” a favorite for all Pino Daniele followers, excited everyone in the audience. As he progressed through the verses, we were moving in our seats to keep up with each note. The audience responded to his playing with clapping, singing, and restlessness. An overjoyed gathering of supporters exuded their glee and energy with a rousing applause.
The interludes and jam sessions were rousing! The remarkable talent that was onstage reminded everyone that Pino and his band are more than jazz. They are a talented group headlined by an extraordinary guide to the music scene. As shouts from the crowd urged grins from Pino’s face, it became evident how connected he was to his musical mission.
Pino graced the stage with an ease and calmness that excited everyone in the theater. His steady pace and incredible poetic harmonies reminded me that Pino is more than a musician. Pino is a writer of expressive words that speak to the romantic and sentimental side in each of us. His jazz melodies embrace the mind and spirit of Italians and non-Italians alike, reminding us of the fondness he has for fusion sounds while never losing sight of his appreciation for jazz and complex compositions.
His angelic voice graced us with “Tu Dimmi Quando, Quando.” A moving song when listened to as a recording, but even more stirring when heard live. As he stood playing and singing, he softly pronounced each word as if he were speaking to each of us individually through lyrical poetry.
By the conclusion of this thrilling musical evening, the crowd demanded more. Standing and clapping while chanting, “Pino, Pino, Pino,” he returned to the stage.
While playing another set, he delighted the audience yet again with his musical proficiency and intense enjoyment. As the lights came on for the second time, not a single person in the theater could stop talking about this amazing performance.
After the show, I had the pleasure to meet Pino briefly. To say that I was excited is an understatement. Listening to him engage with the small group that gathered closely around him was spectacular! His satisfaction with this small clique of admirers showed me how grateful Pino is for his fans and their support. Yes, I shook his hand and yes, he was as pleasant as I hoped him to be.