Home New York Report Pianist Francesco Crosara releases “Circular Motion”

Pianist Francesco Crosara releases “Circular Motion”

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“I refuse to be labeled a ‘straight ahead’ player or a ‘fusion’ player,” says Italian–born, Seattle–based pianist Francesco Crosara. It’s a sentiment widely shared by jazz musicians, though they follow many different roads to get to that place. Crosara, for his part, plays both acoustic piano and Yamaha MODX-8 synthesizer on this absorbing, varied program of original music for three trio lineups, two of them with electric bass. He cites the influence of Chick Corea, a mentor and family friend who once wrote to Crosara: “Francesco, your music is wonderful, always has been. Play what you love and saturate the world with it.”
Crosara states: “Chick was always innovative in using different bands in different situations. Some of his groups featured jazz legends, others new young talent, or everything in between. I try to do that myself rather than focus on a single working band, which obviously has its advantages but is also a bit limiting. I’m more interested in discovering new talent and sounds and the different approaches to each musician’s music.”
Crosara debuted with the quartet release Energy in 1992; his 1999 outing Colors received four stars in DownBeat. In 2008, he released the beautiful Notes: Piano Solo Live. His first trio release was Kurama in 2009, followed by the live trio album Concerto in 2011 for a limited Italian release. Circular Motion includes fresh interpretations of some of this repertoire, composed over 40 years. The goal was to highlight that the constant evolution of Circular Motion occurs when an artist plays the long game as deftly as Crosara.
The four acoustic numbers—”Longing,” “Gymnopédie No. 4,” “Maktoub,” and the title track “Circular Motion”—highlight the rich timbre and presence of double bassist Clipper Anderson and the supple rhythmic flow and texture of drummer Mark Ivester. These older heads are seasoned and authoritative in their approach to Crosara’s tunes. “I tailor the songs to the musicians,” Crosara says. “‘Longing’ just calls out for that big resonant acoustic bass, whereas ‘Preludio Flamenco’ is aching for a guitar-like approach, which Farko Dosumov employs on the five-string electric.”
Dosumov and drummer D’Vonne Lewis, the first rhythm section we hear on Circular Motion, represent the mid-40s contingent. They bring a fluid, contemporary post-Jaco feel to “Julia’s Tango,” “Passion,” and “One Day Honey, One Day Onions,” as well as the Corea- and Paco de Lucía-influenced “Preludio Flamenco” mentioned above.
“Then in the last trio, which has more of a world music approach, we have Osama Afifi on bass and Xavier LeCouturier on drums,” says Crosara. “Osama is very different from Farko; it is much less Jaco-influenced and more in the mold of Stanley Clarke or Anthony Jackson. Xavier is only 24 years old and has a really monster technique. At 24, there is a different outlook on life than at 40 or 60. It’s fascinating how so much goes into playing—age, energy, maturity—and you can expect a different result from a musician who has had much life experience instead of someone fresh off the block.”
This “world” trio works out on “Kurama” and “Sarava” at the middle and end of the program, respectively. The former is an evocation of Mount Kurama north of Kyoto, Japan, adapted from a previously recorded three-movement suite; the latter is a Brazilian-themed sendoff, one of Crosara’s earliest compositions (from 1981). “Songs go through their evolution, like people,” the pianist muses. “In 2019, I took the original form of ‘Sarava’ after almost 40 years and enhanced it with a new rubato section and tight obbligato parts to support each solo. The new version, a true suite in three parts, is much more complex while retaining the joie de vivre of the original.”
Crosara exhibits a finely honed vocabulary and alert, sparkling touch on both his instruments, locking in creatively with his cohorts in each of the three settings. He dedicates the album to his mother, the one-of-a-kind jazz singer, producer, and broadcaster Lilian Terry, who passed not long before this album’s release. Described by writer and friend Raul Da Gama as “a peripatetic Italian ambassador of jazz,” Terry recorded for Soul Note with Tommy Flanagan (1982) and Dizzy Gillespie (1985). She and her son co-led a crisp 2003 date, Emotions, featuring late Chicago tenor legend Von Freeman, who also played on Colors. “Vonski was another big mentor for me,” Crosara recalls. “The greatest advice he gave me: Only two things matter in music—timing and space.”
You can hear how that formative advice has shaped Crosara. Along with Von Freeman, he knew Gillespie, Corea, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and many of the jazz legends in his mother’s orbit. His rhythmic instincts, his improvisational grace, and his expressive range make clear that his contact with jazz from the source informs every note he plays. Circular Motion tells that wondrous story of continual artistic growth. — David R. Adler
About Francesco Crosara
Francesco Crosara is a Seattle area-based Italian jazz pianist, composer, and educator routinely performing in various formations. Crosara’s original music melds an impressive mix of jazz improvisation, a romantic vein from his classical Conservatory training in Rome, bouncy lyrical expression, and strong Latin influences. Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Herbie Hancock are his main jazz piano influences.
Crosara stands among the European-bred jazz greats, performing over the years with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Hargrove, Richie Cole, Bobby Shew, Ira Sullivan, Don Menza, Von Freeman, John Heard, Gabe Baltazar, Mayuto Correa, Bruce Forman, Barbara Morrison, Earl Palmer, Lilian Terry, and more. His recordings have featured a multicultural and international array of musicians. He has performed at festivals and venues across the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, and Italy.
Since 2017, the Pacific Northwest can claim Crosara’s talents, too, as he’s been eager to contribute to the local scene. Francesco was selected to perform at the 2021 Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle. He has been featured for two years in the trend-setting Earshot Jazz: The Second Century series for his bold and innovative music composition and video editing work. Equally adept with acoustic and electric jazz concepts, Crosara routinely headlines trios and quartets with the area’s top musicians.
Francesco has produced six international jazz albums over the last three decades, ranging from straight-ahead to fusion and Latin. Featured guest artists include Von Freeman, Lilian Terry, Dave Marr, Rusty Jones, Paulinho Garcia, Dean Taba, Noel Okimoto, Yasushi Gonjo, Larry Marshall, Miles Jackson, Eric Kurtz, and more. His 2000 album Colors received four stars from DownBeat magazine.
Crosara also serves as Vice President and Education chair on the Board of Directors of the Music Discovery Center (MDC), a non-profit organization based in Bremerton, WA, dedicated to creating an inclusive space for community members to experience, explore, and contribute to the world of music through education, performance, and mentorship.
Please visit: www.francescojazz.com
Article Source: https://www.twofortheshowmedia.com/
A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Editor-in-Chief Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject. His writing appears on Latin Jazz Network; Chamber Music America magazine and numerous other publications.

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