Don Karate is the project of Italian multi-instrumentalist Stefano Tamborrino, a detour from the world of jazz he normally inhabits towards its equally fruitful descendants. Don Karate’s music is a complex and fascinating sonic universe, with grooves orbiting around hip-hop traditions and melodies reflecting electronic and cinematographic nebulae. Rest assured that Don Karate is more than capable to guide you through this universe, with Tamborrino (drums, vocals) deftly assisted by Pasquale Mirra (vibes) and Francesco Ponticelli (bass). Independently each member is accomplished and acclaimed within the Italian jazz scene, and together they represent more than three decades of experience in various formations having performed both at home and abroad.
While the project itself has existed for a few years, driven by Tamborrino’s imagination and a spirit of improvisation, Original Cultures will be releasing Don Karate’s self-titled album in January 2020, its first as a trio. The eight songs that make up the album were written by Tamborrino and recorded by Ponticelli in between Pisa, Arezzo, Florence, and Bologna. Ponticelli also acts as co-producer alongside Tamborrino.
The music pays close attention to timbral sensibilities and their potentials, creating space between the notes for the listeners to lose themselves in. Driven by Tamborrino’s thick grooves, Ponticelli’s subtle bass, and the deft vibraphone work of Mirra, there is a real joy in rhythm for Don Karate as evidenced in the tumbling “Ice Age” and chugging “I Wish.” This joy is in turn reflected in the melodies, with the trio taking turn to work their synthesizers. At times ecstatic (“Tea 4 D.K.”), melancholic (“African Snow”), or uplifting (“Planeta”), the songs on this album sidestep virtuosic tendencies in favor of communal stylistic explorations.
Don Karate is the soundtrack to the imaginary music in your head. So get ready to dance like no one is looking.
A1 Ice Age
A2 I Wish
B1 La Classe
B2 African Snow
B3 Tea For D.K.