Manny Fizzotti – Nobody Understands | Album Review

Manny Fizzotti – Nobody Understands

RockHattle Music RM038

12 songs – 42 minutes

Now based out of London where he works with harp players Giles Robson and Alan Glen in addition to enjoying a successful career as a front man, Manny Fizzotti’s one of the most tasteful guitarists on the European blues scene and shows why with his latest CD.

A collection of nine originals and three covers, Fizzotti’s material ranges from straight-ahead Chicago blues to swing, a taste of country and more – all of which is infused with a fluent, precise attack on the strings and plenty of class.

A native Italian, Manny turned pro in 1983 and graduated with honors from Los Angeles’ prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology, where he studied under fret masters Scott Henderson and Joe Diorio as Frank Sinatra keyboard player and Sarah Vaughan bandleader Carl Schroeder before becoming a session guitarist for world-class engineer Mike Carnevale at his L.A.-based Shanghai Recording Studio. This is his sixth CD.

Back home in Europe, he’s worked across a broad musical spectrum, including stints with the Melody Makers alongside vocalist Attilio Gili and Soulful Numbers with Marina Schiavinato in the 2000s as well as with Led Zeppelin tribute bands and also served as a writer for the guitar magazine, Axe, and released instructional DVDs, too. He’s been based in the U.K. since 2011, where he’s frequently appeared on the pages of Blues Matters, Blues in Britain, Classic Rock and Guitar Techniques magazines.

Fizzotti delivers vocals in English with only the slightest of accents, accompanying himself here on guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, Hammond organ and piano in a lineup that include Luca Roffino and Felipe Amorim on drums and Ben Hillyard and Costa Tancredi on upright bass. They’re joined by guest appearances from Robson and Brendan O’Neill, who spent a decade as Rory Gallagher’s drummer and now tours with Mud Morganfield.

The original “Crying Shame” opens the action with 2019 BMA honoree Robson on board. It’s a driving, medium tempo, stop-time complaint steeped in Windy City tradition about a lady’s failure to answer when questioned about her suspected cheating. O’Neill’s behind the kit for “Useless,” a steady swinging blues with jazz overtones that dovetails nicely with the opener with lyrics that reinforce the futility of trying to perpetuate a relationship gone bad. Fizzotti’s work on the six-string shines throughout.

“Nobody Understands” showcases his talent across five-plus minutes of slow blues as it bemoans feelings of isolation and images of a preacher delivering sermons to parishioners who don’t listen and being a stranger in a strange land before Robson rejoins the action for the fiery, uptempo instrumental, “Sliding Away,” which – as the title infers – is delivered on slide guitar and Giles on the high end of the reeds.

Fizzotti’s a triple threat on six-string, banjo and mandolin as he turns back the clock with Rev. Robert Wilkins’ familiar “Prodigal Son” before showing off his cool-jazz chops with the instrumental “Dodgy Dudes,” doubling on organ and guitar with only drum accompaniment. The setup continues for the funky “She’s Gone” before Manny goes solo for “Lockdown Blues,” which is delivered in Delta style.

The jazzy “Turn Me On” urges a lady to fire Fizzotti up like a match before Manny goes full-on country with “Cowboys on the Run,” Two more well-executed and reinvented covers – the Bobby Troup standard, “Route 66,” and John Coltrane’s “Naima” – bring the disc to a winning close.

If you love blues and jazz, you’ll adore this one. If you’re a guitar player with aspirations, it’ll serve as a masterclass for you, too.

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