Luigi Milanese is an Italian guitarist and composer from Genoa. Throughout his career he has played with musicians like Max Roach, Pino Daniele and Los Lobos and he also plays in the hard-rock group Blue Dawn. Classical studies have undoubtedly brought Milanese to become a guitar player with an above average technique, this way he is able to play just about anything. You can also give him an acoustic guitar or one which has been plugged into an amplifier. His latest release came out in 2016 and got the title Closer To Heaven.
The album shows above all the variety of styles he is capable of playing. His strength lies in his great technique, versatility and being able to expand in very different genres. This way he comes up with a very varied album with ten compositions ranging from rock to classical, from world-music to blues rock, from fusion to ambient and from progressive rock to folk music. His style of guitar playing reminded me most of all of the amazing Gordon Giltrap. This British guitarist has the same style of finger picking Luigi shows throughout the entire album. Of course he did not do everything on his own on this fine solo album. The most well known collaborator is flutist John Hackett. When you hear him playing along with Luigi's fine acoustic guitar you can't help thinking about the more mellow pieces by Steve Hackett. Next to Steve's brother on flute you can hear bassist Bob Callero (ex- Il Volo), cellist Marila Zingarelli, keyboardist Luca Lamari, the oboist Adriano Mondini, drummer Federico Lagomarsino and the excellent singer Claudia Sanguineti. The addition of the latest person made me think about Anne-Marie Helder and her band Panic Room from time to time. Just listen to the opening piece I Never Did and As A Chill In The Golden Night. The use of a cello, flute and oboe moves the music towards classical music, as you can hear on All The things I Never Said, Aurora and Visions From The Well. Finally I have to mention that there is a fine balance in instrumental pieces and songs which have vocals. This gives the album a nice flow to listen to.
Closer To Heaven is without doubt a fine album to listen to for most lovers of progressive rock music. And if you like your prog with a little bit more variety this is certainly an album you don't want to miss. Just give it a try, just like I did. You won't regret it!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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