There was an aphorism from the First World War, “Don’t judge a man by his umbrella, it may not be his”. But I think you can judge the quality of a musician’s work by the company he keeps on an album. The guitarist and composer Francesco Lo Castro has surrounded himself with some very fine musicians on Chasing Beauty. This heartfelt album of self compositions contains some lovely Miles-ish cameos for Fulvio Sigurta on trumpet (or flugelhorn) in As it is and for Maurizio Minardi on accordion. The title refers to the worthwhile activity of seeking beauty in the mundane as well as the perfect. There are affectionate, jaunty, pictures of places, people and times past. It is not introspective, it demonstrates an attractive openness. It is a perfect album for relaxation, calming and gentle. I can easily imagine it being played in cafes in Europe. But listen a bit deeper and you will spot gems such as Joe Fowler’s haunting flute on Nino and Dunia which paints a serene portrait of two friends, and the very lovely accordion of Maurizio Minardi on the upbeat May 2011. There is no doubting Francesco’s prowess on both acoustic and electric guitar, the subtle shades and tempos are memorable. His tunes, such as Sahara with its rocking motion like a camel, and Dresden with its arresting opening, have a habit of sticking in your mind very quickly, and that’s no bad thing.
Album released 1 October 2013 here