The sidewalk cafès that line the piazzas and narrow streets of Rome, Venice, Milan, and other Italian cities are quintessential romantic settings. One of life's great pleasures is sitting in an Italian coffee shop, surrounded by extraordinary ancient architecture, sipping a steaming cappuccino and watching the world stroll by. While cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and other coffee drinks can now be found in almost every nook and cranny of the world, the jazz-influenced music that served as the soundtrack for Italian cafès and nightclubs in the '50s is largely a thing of the past. However, echoes of the energy and spirit of this period are still influencing artists today, and Italian Cafè captures the mood of this bygone era through both classic artists and talented contemporary musicians.
After the chaos and destruction of World War II, Italy in the 1950s and early '60s was filled with a renewed energy and optimism. American musical styles such as jazz and swing took hold, and artists like Renato Carosone, Fred Buscaglinone, Nicole Arigliano, and Quartetto Cetra crooned to packed nightclubs and enthralled radio and television audiences.
It was the era of La Dolce Vita, when fashion, celebrity, and easy living ruled the day. Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Brigette Bardot, and other glamorous stars frequented the trendy restaurants and clubs of Rome and Milan, followed by hoards of photographers who gave rise to the term "paparazzi." Italian cafès and nightclubs bounced to a musical blend of traditional Italian melodies and the new era's lively swing. Popular Italian music even made it big in American, as singers like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima, and Rosemary Clooney recorded hit songs in Italian.
The songs on Italian Cafè have an air of nostalgia, recalling a time before rock and roll began to dominate popular music culture. Alongside legends of the golden age of Italian song, respected contemporary performers are also included on the CD. While these newer artists draw on a wide range of influences, there are echoes of the days of La Dolce Vita in their swinging melodies and artfully crafted lyrics.