Carmine D'Amico Ensemble - Volume 1 


Carmine D’Amico is a studio musician of great standing. He made a very early start, under the guidance of his father, and recorded a demo with his brother Chris at the age of 9.


Between the ages of 9 and 11, he was featured on hits by the Shirelles, Connie Francis, Frankie Avalon and others.  By the time he was in his teens, he was considered one of the top session players in New York.


He picked up his musical career after a tour of duty in the US army and since then has worked with artists as varied as Bobby Darin, Patti Austin and Henry Mancini.  If you’re a fan of “The Godfather”, listen for D’Amico on the soundtrack – especially on the wedding scene.


The songs reviewed here are taken from his album on Jazzbone records which, at the time of writing, is only available by mailing him at


Does It Ever Rain In Heaven lulls you with a very smooth jazz guitar intro over an atmospheric midtempo backing.  The pretty melody is quite dreamy and hypnotic.  The guitar sound turns rockier and more reminiscent of Al Di Meola halfway though and, guess what, I’m still hanging in there when it does.  It’s a real contradiction but enjoyable.


A lovely bass intro leads into the slow, wistful Angel which is written in waltz time.  The very clean guitar carries the melody which again is a sweet one.  Once more, as the song builds in intensity, an orgy of string-bending ensues.  D’Amico’s experience in film music must explain his sense of drama.


A mellow, funky, piano-led groove opens Twilight .  It’s a very sparse production which has a relaxed feel – until the jacket comes off, the sleeves are rolled up and the axe attack begins again.  As it subsides, the song drops back into its groove but something got lost along the way for me...


The only vocal track, Life Is Too Short, opens with clean bass picking from Boris Kazlow and it reminds me of Anthony Jackson’s classy playing.  The horns and pseudo-latin beat detract from the classy opening however.  Carmine’s wife Ronee provides the vocal which – I’ll be honest – had me reaching for the “skip” button.  I’m sure there is a message in the lyrics but I found that I couldn’t listen to it.


The solo musings of You Speak To Me In My Dreams remind you that Mr D’Amico really knows his way round six strings and he delivers another pretty melody.  The song sounds as though it’s a one-take affair and what holds your attention is the human-ness of the “hands-on-strings” sound and the gorgeous big acoustic it’s placed in.


After reading Carmine D’Amico’s impressive biography and listening to this 5-track taster, I couldn’t help wishing that he would record his mellow acoustic guitar CD and follow it up with a crazy, inspirational electric CD.  I’m sure I’d enjoy both but these two styles on one disc, let alone one song, are hard to reconcile.

Jazzbone Records -no catalog number available  -  Producer Carmine D’Amico


Reviewed by Chris Mann