Stafano Pesapane is an Italian artist (no surprise to me!) who has just released a new single titled “HEADS UP.”

In what will be obvious to anyone playing this track, Pesapane started out as a drummer: hitting the skins at age eight, by 16 he was already playing professionally in clubs. Pesapane attended the St. Louis Music School in Rome in the late 1970’s and later completed studies at the famed Berklee College of Music. After a career performing with several bands both big and small, he signed with Bentley Records in January 2020. He describes his music as a mix of genres like jazz, electronic and house.

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage as his artist page clearly shows a big band, but I’m not sure if his current music features these players or just himself. But drums are clearly at the forefront, not only for this single but for the other songs I sampled (which absolutely do sound like a big band!).

“HEADS UP” starts with the old backward-cymbals trick and kicks right in with triple time rhythms on the drums, congas and god knows what else. I can’t tell if I’m also hearing real marimbas or xylophones but there’s definitely a bank of electronic keys playing complex riffs every bit as fast as the drums, along with an echo-cloud of eerie voices. Based on a photo I believe Pesapane is manning the ivories, which would make sense as that’s where most of the melodic action is. The music harkens back to the prog sensibility of The Mahavishnu Orchestra or Billy Cobham. There’s at least three distinct sections overlaid on top of the same unrelenting beat, all glued together by those strange, disembodied voices. After barely three minutes, the track whooshes to a stop. 

Based on this track and some of the others, Pesapane’s music always seems rooted in steady, exotic beats while basing the melodies on various keyboard sounds and patches. This track is an excellent gateway to this man’s vital and engaging work.