Generations ago, most of Italy’s regions spoke their own dialects. These dialects were much more varied than simple accents. A Sicilian would have a hard time speaking with someone from Bari who had problems talking to people from Calabria and everyone had a hard time speaking to people “from the north” where “real Italian” was spoken. But, everyone seemed to understand Neapolitan or Napulitan – the dialect of Naples (Napoli). The reason was simple; the greatest, most passionate and certainly the most popular songs emanated from Naples. From the time the legendary Enrico Caruso first recorded “O Sole Mio” in 1898 on Thomas Edison’s new recording machine, Naples has had a monopoly on the Italian melodies the world would embrace forever.
These titles interpreted by the incredible guitarist Michele Ramo are top heavy in Napulitan classics. These selections, some dating back to the 1920’s, were popularized here in America the second half of the 20th century by notable singers like Jimmy Roselli, Jerry Vale, Dean Martin, Al Martino, and Italy’s Sergio Franchi. Ramo has put his own stamp on these songs through his guitar. It is virtually impossible not to hum these world famous melodies after listening to Ramo’s instrumental interpretations.
Ramo easily succeeds in transcending the passion of the words to the melodic tones of his guitar. Through his arrangements, you hear the concerned mother scolding her adolescent son who tries to court an older woman in “Guaglione.” You feel the pain of a tossed aside lover in “Mala Femmena,” the bad woman who is as sweet as sugar with the face of an angel. That pain is only intensified in “Core 'Ngrato," the story of Catherine torturing her lover and never acknowledging his suffering or the fact that he devoted his life to her. On the lighter side, a child is provided with his mother's recipe for creating him in "Comme Facette Mammeta." The loving recipe is rather simple: the best meat, a hundred roses, milk and strawberries without any need for a magic potion. And, of course, Ramo captures one of the most melodic passions of all time with “Torna A Surriento.” Come back to beautiful Sorrento or I will die!
Ramo also takes us a musical journey north and south of Naples by acknowledging the beauty of Rome with the world famous “Arrivederci, Roma.” He then pays homage to his own Sicilian roots with an old folk song, "Quant' e Laia Me Zita," where he lends his vocal pipes to accompany his guitar, along with his own composition "Lacrimi Siciliani," Sicilian tears.
(Naples does not have a monopoly on tears.)
The selections are rich in tradition yet afforded a fresh interpretation with a new path to our hearts through Ramo’s guitar strings. He even adds the love theme from "The Godfather." Unless you have lived in a cave since 1972, you will know that one.
Whether this disc is played in the background or intensely studied, the atmosphere can only be enhanced by the talent, tradition and interpretation of Michele Ramo. Enjoy.
Liner Notes by: Ernie Naspretto
RAMO grew up in the small Sicilian village of ‘Costiera’, a hilltop village located on the southwest coast of Sicily near the fishing port of Mazara del Vallo. This is a rare story of a young Sicilian boy and a vast hidden reservoir of unleased talents. With no musical exposure except for the local shepherds and their 'Zufolo' - a handmade wooden flute, he would follow the sheep herds, sitting upon the rocks to hear the shepherds play music while their sheep grazed. He saw his first guitar ever on a television show and asked his mother what it was. She replied, "a guitar". Well, he said then and there that was what he was going to be - a musician. With great persistance and his nature of 'never giving up', he finally convinced his parents to get him a guitar. He was 13 years old, and then, 6 months later he began violin studies at the conservatory in Trapani. In only four short years of study, at the age of seventeen, Ramo received his first professional contract with the Italian State Symphony opera orchestra “Orchestra Del Teatro Massimo in Palermo. He earned a Master's degree in violin from the music conservatory of Caltanissetta. No small achievement as he finished this 10 year program in just five years while working professionally. Ramo toured Europe with the International Mediterranean Youth Orchestra –“Le Juness Du Mediterranee”. In 1985 he was contracted with “Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana” and worked as Concert Master with “Orchestra Filarmonica Del Tirrreno touring Italy.
After five years in various Italian State Orchestras, Ramo left the orchestra job and moved to the United States in 1987 to pursue his work as a composer and instrumentalist in Jazz.
He spent the next twelve years working with Jazz greats in Detroit where he soon developed an outstanding reputation as a top-notch musician and leader, performing as a soloist and with 'The Ramo Group'. Ramo moved to New York City in 1999 with his wife singer, lyricist Heidi Hepler.
Ramo is a Fingerstyle Nylon Jazz Guitarist ~ Jazz Violinist ~ Composer ~ Educator, Performer, and Teacher with more than 20 years of experience in live performance - jazz, orchestral, studio work, recordings, composing, finale engraving and teaching. Inventor of the ‘Ramo Hei-D MOSTRO’ 8 String guitar. ( See: 8StringGuitar.com )
PRIMARY INSTRUMENTS: GUITAR & VIOLIN Classical / Brazilian / Jazz & Latin Jazz Crossover 6, 7 & 8 String Nylon Fingerstyle Jazz Guitarist 4 & 5 String Jazz Violinist
TRAINING / EDUCATION • Master’s Degree in Violin from Italian Conservatory of Caltanissetta (1985) • Diploma in Piano as second instrument (Italy) • Diploma in Theory & Solfege (Italy) • Diploma in Harmony (Italy)
Violin • Joseph Opitz - Germany • Teo Oloff - Israel/France • Pietro Marabete – Concert Master - La Scala, Milan Italy, Concert Master - Arena di Verona
Guitar Master Classes: • Alirio Diaz / Classical Guitar • Carlos Barbosa-Lima / Classical Guitar • Charlie Byrd / Nylon Jazz Guitar • Joe Pass / Jazz Guitar • Kenny Burrell / Jazz Guitar • Baden Powell / Brazilian Jazz Guitar
TEACHING 1982 – Present • Violin, Viola, Guitar & Mandolin. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced • Jazz Improvisation and repertoire - Standards, Latin & Brazilian • Classical repertoire - Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Modern, Contemporary • Theory, Sight Reading, Solfege, Chord Melody Style, Finale Notation - String Teaching Specialties: • Improvisation for Classical players…guitar, violin, viola, cello • Helping the classical students to improvise in Jazz • Analyze, Transcribe, Apply and Delivery. Guitar Specialty: Chord-Melody Fingerstyle Jazz – How to play melody, chords, rhythm and bass line at the same time.
COMPOSER Compositions Over 200 works in the Classical, Brazilian & Jazz styles
PUBLICATIONS: ‘Tribute To Guitar Masters’ Vol. I Original compositions for classical and jazz guitarists - Book/Cd – Publisher Mel Bay (2005) ‘The Art Of Bossa Nova’ Book – Publisher Ramo Music (1992) Original compositions
Recordings as Leader: released by Ramo Music / MoonBoat Records Label:
• 2006 release ‘Oh' Lady Be Good’ w/ Ramo on violin, Bucky Pizzarelli - guitar and Jerry Bruno - Bass
• 2005 ‘Mick & Mundy’ - ‘I Didn’t Know About You’ guitar duo with Mundell Lowe - standards and one original
• 2004 ‘Ramo’ solo 6 & 7 String guitar - mix of standards and originals
• 2002 ‘Felicita’ Voice & Guitar Duo with Singer/Lyricist Heidi Hepler all original compositions
• 2002 ‘Full Moon Above New York City’ Jazz Violin with Quartet - all original compositions
• 1995 ‘Kiss My Head’ Ramo with his 7 piece group LIVE - all original compositions
• 1993 ‘Live at Kerrytown’ Ramo Quartet LIVE Original Music & standards
• 1992 ‘Jalousie’ solo guitar - originals and standards
• 1992 ‘Earth & Sun’ duo with percussion - originals
• 1990 ‘Essence Of Romance’ solo guitar - all original music
• 1988 ‘Tina’ solo guitar - originals and standards
Recordings as Guest Artist: • ‘Sonatina’ with Bucky Pizzarelli (2003) as Violinist • ‘5 CD set for a Japanese Label with new age flutist Nikkos (1995/1998/1999) as Guitarist • ‘Matador’ with singer songwriter John D Lamb (1998) as Guitarist and countless studio and commercial sessions.
The Ramo Group – recordings and performances – leader, composer, guitarist, violinist • Ramo & Heidi Duo – voice and guitar duo of Ramo and Heidi Hepler – USA & Europe • Ramo Solo – solo guitarist • Ramo guitarist on tour with James Carter’s Chasin’ the Gypsy Band 2001, 2002 • Ramo Violinist &/ or Guitarist with: Bucky Pizzarelli, Al Caiola, Paquito D’Rivera, Howard Alden, Jimmy Bruno, Gene Bertoncini, Regina Carter, Les Paul, Marcus Belgrave, Roy Brooks, Harold McKinney, Ron Blake, Frank Vignola, Mundell Lowe, Jack Wilkins.
Jazz Festivals: USA, Canada and Europe: The North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Molde Jazz (Norway), Fano Jazz (Italy), Montreal Jazz, Ottawa Jazz (Canada), Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Freiburg (Germany), Paris, Ile Del Re, Souillac, (France), Cork Jazz (Ireland), Barcelona, Madrid (Spain), Republica de Andorra, Burlington Jazz, Arkansas Jazz, Montreux-Detroit Jazz, Houston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Dayton, (USA), Athens, Corfu, Corintos, Patras (Greece).
Violinist - Orchestra Del Teatro Massimo of Palermo, Italy (1983/84/85) Violinist - Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, Palermo, Italy (1985/86/87) Violinist - Orchestra Filarmonica del Tirreno / Italy (1985/86/87) Violinist – La Junee Du Mediterranee (European Youth Orchestra) / France, Italy, Spain, Greece. (1984/85) Various Chamber Groups 1983-1987, Broadway ‘Al Jolson’ – guitar, violin, mandolin, ukulele and banjo.
ADMINISTRATION & COORDINATION OF EVENTS Shows Produced by Ramo Music: • ‘Ramo Guitar Night’ NYC with LaBella Strings - 2003- present 21 shows from 2003-2005 (See ‘Ramo Guitar Night’ in Photo Gallery of www.RamoMusic.com ) • Detroit Jazz Scene – hundreds of performances as group leader and show organizer • Preparing bookings, technical, music, promo material, mailings for Ramo Music / MoonBoat Productions. • Produced and recorded 13 projects from 1988 – present • Websites – Creation, info gathering & maintenance for four (4) website projects. • Photography • Organize shows • Booking musicians • Handle sound equipment & Lighting equipment
INVENTOR & CREATOR
Invented a new concept in guitar design ~ The 'RAMO Hei-D MOSTRO' 8 string Guitar ~ Built by Rich DiCarlo (See www.8StringGuitar.com)
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: • AFM-802 New York City (American Federation of Musicians) • IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators) • ASTA (American String Teachers Association) • BMI – Writer and Publisher