Born near Cuneo (in Italy’s Piedmont region) into a family of farmers , Gianmaria Testa taught himself to play guitar and wrote his first songs as soon as he learned his first chords. Following winning the first prize at the Recanati Festival for emerging singer-songwriters, he released his first CD, Montgolfières, on Label Bleu in Europe (1995).
On the heels of Montgolfière’s superb reviews, Gianmaria made his February 1996 début at Paris’s New Morning jazz club. He showed himself to be an artist of great presence, and he was quickly “adopted” by French jazz fans. His second album, Extra-muros, was released in 1996 on Tôt ou Tard, Warner France’s new label devoted to songwriters. The driving rhythms of jazz, lively fanfares, piano solos, sudden silences: they all served to emphasize Gianmaria’s sincerity and his subtle, elegant way of telling tales of melancholy and quiet joy.
In February 1997, five months after the release of Extra-muros, Gianmaria performed at the legendary l’Olympia in Paris. The engagement marked a key moment in his young career, which, in the space of two years, saw him go from being a completely unknown Italian singer-songwriter to making a chance début in France to becoming a runaway success.
Thanks to his appearance at the Olympia, the Italian press finally began to take note of Gianmaria: critics were first surprised, then unanimous in hailing this important new voice in the Italian singer-songwriter tradition.
In February 1999 Gianmaria released his third CD: Lampo, recorded in Italy and France. The title alludes to both lightning and the flash of a camera: a luminous instant, short-lived, but leaving an indelible trace in one’s memory. Lampo is a disc of micro-stories, of everyday people and things that take on surprising dimensions: lovers in Rome, the moon, chestnut trees, chalk dust left on doorsteps to mark the steps of visitors... Once again, critics were unanimous in welcoming a magnificent album, alive with a quiet, gentle swing, seemingly suspended in a dimension outside of time, “lunar” and earthy at the same time. Lampo has reached platinum status in Europe, and in early 2008 was finally released in the U.S.
Prior releases in the U.S. also include Altre latitudini and Extra-muros, both on (Le Chant du Monde/Harmonia Mundi USA.
GIANMARIA TESTA -- USA DISCOGRAPHY
2006 - DA QUESTA PARTE DEL MARE - Harmonia Mundi - Le chant du Monde
2005 - -EXTRA-MUROS Harmonia Mundi - Le chant du Monde
2004 - MONTGOLFIèRES Harmonia Mundi - Le chant du Monde
2003 - ALTRE LATITUDINI - Harmonia Mundi - Le chant du Monde
2000 - IL VALZER DI UN GIORNO - Harmonia Mundi - Le chant du Monde - EGEA
PRESS QUOTES ON GIANMARIA TESTA’S 2005 U.S. TOUR
“A few performers – Caetano Veloso, Baaba Maal, Chava Alberstein, Cheb Mami come immediately to mind -- deliver a message that reaches beyond the literal meanings of the words. Add Gianmaria Testa to the list.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES Nov 8, 2005
“He sings in a low burnished voice that recalls his fellow countryman Paolo Conte, and his arrangement bridge the gap between small-group swing and acoustic guitar balladeering, vividly framing his voice and adding a lovely Itlaian folk melodocism to his songs.”
CHICAGO READER Oct 28, 2005
“The songs are full of weathered romanticism, tango, jazz and darkened skies”
NEW YORK TIMES Nov 13, 2005
“Testa seemed to reach out and embrace the crowd with his hoarse whisper, tracing a plain-spoken ballad of love borne without bombast, like a handkerchief tucked away in a pocket.”
US ITALIA WEEKLY Nov 6, 2005