Born in Rome and making his home in Helsinki, Finland, Davide Floreno is best known as the right-hand man to contemporary blues artist Erja Lyytinen. He has played lead & rhythm guitar on each of Lyytinen's first four international releases and accompanied her on hundreds of live dates. He'd have no problem keeping it that way. "I’m not much of a singer and I am not a front man by any means," says this modest six-string maestro. "I like to be on the side." But Lyytinen's fans, recognizing Floreno as an integral part of her sound, have been pestering him about a solo album for years.
So last summer, when Lyytinen's band had two days off between festivals, Floreno decided to oblige them. One Thursday Evening, an album of ten topflight instrumentals, showcases him together with other core members of the Erja Lyytinen band: bassist Roger Innis, drummer Miri Miettinen, keyboarder Harri Taittonen as well as select guests including Lyytinen herself on a pair of cuts. "The current line-up is the best band I've ever been involved with. You can throw pretty much anything at these guys and they'll nail it straight away."
The impromptu session took place in a cramped rehearsal space cluttered with drums, amps, tour cases, mics and cables. Floreno originally planned to lay down basic tracks and then overdub his guitar, but when push came to shove, he and the band went 100% live. In the course of a single day (hence the album title), the musicians set up, sound checked and got the whole album done. "In retrospect," says Floreno, "it was the right thing to do. There's definitely some sour moments on my part, but I like the struggle. Kind of like Buddy Guy when he goes wild. Just when you think he's really out there and lost, he lands on his feet and it sounds great."
Floreno didn't set out to copy his guitar heroes, but to make an album that feels like the classic recordings he loves most. He has always been partial to American rhythm & blues, professing his admiration for everyone from James Brown to the renowned "Three Kings": B.B., Freddie and – more than any other artist – Albert King. "Guys like that had the ability to be really tight and still sound extremely relaxed. And that always fascinated me." This really gets to the heart of the matter. Recorded smack in the middle of a busy concert season, One Thursday Evening captures a band at the top of their game, locked in and grooving. But there's nothing hectic or hurried about that groove. The music they create evokes images of dusty roads and southern jukes where slow is the order of the day – because it's just too damn hot to move any faster. Once upon a time, the measured pace of life in the American south filtered into the way people like Albert King played the guitar. He wasn't about crazy-fast licks and hundreds of notes and neither is Floreno. One Thursday Evening moves at a casual clip, leaving Floreno and his mates plenty of space to stretch out and shine as they deliver impressionistic splashes of jazz, some straight-ahead Bo Diddley bounce and a whole lot of gutbucket blues.
Along the way, Floreno shows that, while he may not sing, when he lets his guitar do the talking, good things happen. One Thursday Evening – the album his fans have been waiting for – is most definitely a good thing.
(Vincent Abbate, May 2012)