CD Review: Diana Torti and Sabino de Bari, It’s All We Have

Never before has an album’s deep lyrics contrasted so markedly with the lightness and sheer beauty of its sound. The seriousness of many, although not all, of the lyrics is balanced by some lyrics that are very uplifting together with the downright gorgeousness of the singing and music.

Italian vocalist Diana Torti and her partner guitarist Sabino de Bari, both based in London nowadays, have played and recorded together for some years, their mutual ease evident in this, their latest duo album. Released on 7th April, It’s All We Have represents an intelligent and deeply attractive synergy of the couple’s widespread musical interests: jazz, improvisation, contemporary classical and early music. This listener also thought she could detect flamenco at times. So, this is not your regular straight ahead jazz album, but rather an unusual and sophisticated syncretism and all the more interesting for it.

There are eleven tracks in all. Bari takes compositional credits, plays guitar and wrote the lyrics for The Extra Something (about capitalism) and Whisky (about slavery). Torti, as well as vocal duties wrote some of the most uplifting lyrics on this album, in Beyond Clouds and In Spite of Everything (about the transformational power of relationships). Lyrics are otherwise from Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti and John Hay, the topics ranging widely from the life of women in Afghanistan, to economic wars masquerading as ‘humanitarian’ ones, to climate change. Vocalese takes the place of words in two tracks, Sonhos de Marcelo and Melodia.

This album grows on one with each new listen.  Torti’s voice has an unusual expressiveness (that raw suffering in Melodia!) and a very wide range (as in A Little Road Not Made of Man). She has fabulous technique (hear her bend the notes in The Extra Something) and is a confident improvisor. Being a duo, this is necessarily a relatively stripped-back sound with nothing inessential included, although, especially for a duo, there is a remarkable richness of ideas.

Bari’s musicianship is similarly exquisite, and speaks of a deep familiarity with various styles, perhaps especially contemporary classical. His compositions are ripe with harmonic interest and there is more than one ear-worm melody.

This album could be the soundtrack for a poetic, avant-garde opera. London’s Café OTO, Glasgow’s Glad Café or indeed any venue where the audience values cutting edge creativity should book up this talented couple, quickly.

It’s All We Have was self-released on 7 April 2023.

To purchase: Bandcamp

Diana Torti’s website

Sabino de Bari’s website


Last modified: June 13, 2023