Francesco Crosara

Circular Motion

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Patrizia Marinelli, BackDigit Magazine (Italy)


Francesco Crosara: the musical story of the virtuoso pianist in the album "Circular Motion"

Francesco Crosara recently released his new album Circular Motion. These are 10 selected pieces which in some way tend to summarize the brilliant career of the Italian pianist who has settled for years in Seattle in the United States. Music that draws from compositions of the last 40 years. From the simplest and most "naive" music of the early days to the more mature and harmonious music of more recent times. All contaminated by the many influences of Francesco Crosara, who studied at the prestigious Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Rome. Influences such as that of Chick Corea and Dizziy Gillespie, in a vast appreciation of jazz but also of many other musical styles. So much so that Francesco refuses to be labeled a fusion or simple jazz musician given his passion for experimentation. Helping him in the creation of Circular Motion was a group of very valid and reliable musicians. Bassist Clipper Anderson, drummer Mark Ivester with their vibrant grooves, as well as Farko Dosumov on electric bass. So drummer D'Vonne Lewis, bassist Osama Afifi, drummer, Xavier Lecouturier. Crosara produced the album, played acoustic piano and synthesizer.

Your new CD Circular Motion includes both old and new compositions. How did you come up with the idea of mixing material from different eras of your career?
This is a special album for me because it marks 40 years of musical composition, so we could consider it a retrospective of my work. Furthermore, what attracted me to this project was the idea of updating and improving my early compositions with new musical arrangements, richer harmonies and a more contemporary approach. Then I mixed with this some new compositions that reflect my current state of being. Ultimately, my goal was to achieve a cohesive sound that told a story across the ten compositions, each representing a special place or culture or moment in time. Therefore the title "Circular Motion" represents the life cycle of these musical compositions and the connection between the early works and the more mature ones.

What was the reaction of your fans to your new CD?
Exceptional! Amazing! Jokes aside, the comments I have received are that the flow from one song to the next is fluid, despite the mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, three different configurations and heterogeneous styles and rhythms that reflect different cultures from around the world. Some fans are more partial to one style rather than the other (such as the acoustic trio versus the more jazz fusion-oriented electric trio). I've also heard a lot of comparisons to Chick Corea's music, which of course is the highest compliment for me. Chick was a great family friend and mentor to me. Ultimately, if my music brings joy, comfort and curiosity to the listener, I am satisfied.

What is your favorite song from your new CD and why?
It would be very difficult to have to choose my favorite song on the album. Considering these are my best compositions in four decades, they all have a special place in my heart and their own unique beauty. The most personal song is undoubtedly "Julia's Tango" which I wrote for my wife Julia, so romantically speaking it is my favorite song, also because it develops rhythmically from a slow jazz tango to a cheerful Brazilian samba, and then resolves again into tango . Basically it is a musical suite that explores different moods through rich harmonies and smooth rhythms. I also really like "Preludio Flamenco", the opening track of the CD. It's powerful, exuberant "buleria" style in 12/8 time with a melody reminiscent of Chick Corea and Paco de Lucia. Basically I like to think of my musical compositions as children that are released into the world and grow up among people living their own lives independently of me.

You live in America. Why did you make this choice?
It was a combination of luck and choice. The short version is that I came to the United States for graduate studies in Los Angeles, then I had the opportunity to stay longer and moved to Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands, a beautiful yet isolated place. Then, job opportunities took me to New York, Chicago, back to Southern California, and finally to Seattle, where I still live. Overall, Seattle offers fertile ground for creating and performing music. You could say I lived a sort of nomadic lifestyle, and every place gave me inspiration. During my life in the United States, I have never abandoned my Italian roots and have tried to integrate the best that the two cultures have to offer, without dwelling on limitations or flaws.

Over the years you have performed with big names in international contemporary jazz such as 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... Is There Someone Whose Do you have a particular memory?
This question leads me to an answer that is very personal as well as professional. The most significant artist for me is undoubtedly Lilian Terry, since she was first of all my mother, giving me musical inspiration from an early age. The older Italian public will perhaps remember Lilian as one of the most important singers of Italian jazz starting from the end of the 1950s, then host of jazz programs on radio and TV for RAI, producer of concerts with the great protagonists of the American jazz scene and beyond, and founder of the "Dizzy Gillespie Popular School of Music" in Bassano del Grappa with Gillespie as co-founder, which lasted for over twenty years. In 2003, my mother and I released a CD recorded together in Chicago (on Southport Records) with special guest the great tenor saxophonist Von Freeman. In 2017 Lilian wrote her autobiographical book "Dizzy, Duke, Brother Ray and Friends" published by the University of Illinois Press, where she documented all her interviews and personal stories with jazz greats. Sadly, she passed away last year at the age of 92, but her inspiration continues.

How important was your classical training at the prestigious Conservatory of Music in Rome to later interpret jazz and music with Latin influences?
Very important. I think American jazz artists tend to have less of a classical imprint in their musical approach. I find it more widespread among European musicians. For me too, I believe it was extremely important to have that solid foundation that comes from three years of studying the concepts of musical harmonica, composition, music history, solfeggio, etc. I think my current album demonstrates my classical roots, especially in songs like "Gymnopedie No.4′′, an original composition of mine inspired by the French composer Erik Satie, or "Passion" which is very lyrical and open. It's fun to mix classical elements with other jazz, world, and Latin elements with syncopated rhythms.

Having studied classical music in Rome, how did you fall in love with jazz and Latin music?
Having a mother who was famous and involved in the jazz genre, as a good rebellious young boy, at the age of 11 I decided to snub jazz and study "serious music". that is, classical music, piano, harmony, composition, and I concentrated completely on Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and other classical masters, having been accepted into the prestigious Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome. Francesco Crosara a natural talent Three years later the exams took place and the results were surprising: excellent grades in composition and harmony, and at the same time, failing the classical piano. My problem was that I couldn't stay faithful to the written music and I always needed to embellish and change notes, basically "improvise" on the music. Sound familiar? So, in the end, I understood that jazz would become my path, but I have always loved the strong classical backbone, which is still present in my compositions today. After that, I concentrated on listening to the great music of my jazz piano heroes: Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Joe Zawinul, Oscar Peterson. This mix of inspiration gave me the tools to develop my own sound with traces of jazz, blues, Latin rhythms, fusion and classical harmony.

After Circular Motion what are your next projects?
I don't have a specific plan yet, in the short term I'm focusing on promoting the CD, while playing the music from the album with different music formats to get a variety of inspirations. In the long term, I will probably explore some new directions. Let me explain: the "Circular Motion" project focused on recording three separate groups: an acoustic trio, an electric trio and a world music trio. There's a lot of "trio" in there. For future projects, I'm expanding my band by adding saxophone. I'm also experimenting with the duo format, like piano/vibraphone in the style of Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Finally, I am also considering the possibility of writing new jazz music that includes a string quartet (another classic reference). We'll see which project comes out first.

Have you already performed live with this new material and if so are you planning a tour soon?
Yes, I am currently performing the music of "Circular Motion" and other material with groups of different formats. For now most of the shows take place on the West Coast of the United States. I'm also planning shows in Chicago, Honolulu (my old haunts), and a festival in Mexico. Although at the moment I have no plans for performances in Italy and Europe, I would gladly consider invitations from agents and clubs, they can send me an email to [email protected] and we can talk from there. I would very much like to bring my music to the Italian public, a homecoming.





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