Francesco Crosara

Circular Motion

oa2 22222


iTunes - $9.99

MUSIC REVIEW BY David Witter, Fra Noi Magazine



In the old days, when folks traveled by ship and train, passengers' trunks were adorned with colorful stickers indicating the cities and nations they had passed through. Jazz pianist Francesco Crosara's latest recording is a musical version of such a suitcase. Born in Italy, Crosara immigrated to the United States and has lived in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities before settling in Seattle. At each stop, he absorbed the local jazz scene, with all those destinations leaving a mark on his work.

"I was born in Milano, into a world very much immersed in jazz and intellectual thought," Crosara says from his home in Seattle. "My mother, Lilian Terry (a stage name for Liliane Therese Cachia), was called the 'First Lady of Jazz' in Italy. She was involved as a singer and performer, broadcast a jazz show first on radio and then on television on RAI, and she also worked as a producer of jazz shows in Italy and across Europe." A close friend of Dizzy Gillespie, Terry obtained permission from the man himself to open the Dizzy Gillespie Popular School of Music in Bassano, Italy. He was just one of many jazz giants Crosara mingled with, as his mother often hosted them at their home. "When I was young, I got to meet Duke Ellington, Max Roach, Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie," Crosara says. "Mom had an interesting way of making them feel at home. She would cook them giant Italian dinners." At 14, Crosara enrolled at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome to study classical piano, but his upbringing created challenges. "I went into classical almost as a rebellious act, but I soon realized that I could never just stick to the written page," Crosara says. "I wanted to improvise and unlike classical, which I still love and listen to, jazz had no such restrictions, and I loved how cool jazz musicians were." Crosara then enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he earned a bachelor's in business administration, but he still couldn't shake the jazz bug. He auditioned for the school's jazz ensemble and after a stint in the "B" band, he moved to the top unit, where he was able to interact with visiting musicians the likes of Lionel Hampton and Freddie Hubbard.

After graduation, Crosara worked in the field of business administration and later information technology while traveling, performing and releasing his debut album, "Energy," in 1992. He lived in Chicago from 1997 to 2000, where he played with Von Freeman, the patron saint of Chicago jazz, who contributed to Crosara's 1999 "Colors" album. In 2008, he released "Piano Solo Live," which was followed by "Kurama" in 2009. In 2011, his album "Concerto" was released in Italy.

His latest CD, Circular Motion, combines Crosara's lifetime of influences, but he points to fellow Italian Corea as his guiding light. "Chick Corea combined so many influences in his music," Crosara explains, "but he also taught me to respect the audience, and write something that will provide them with joy."

CIRCULAR MOTION by Francesco Crosara

On this disc, Crosara's training at the conservatory in Rome and decades of playing alongside jazz giants like Von Freeman and Lionel Hampton come to the fore. The first cut, "Preludio Flamenco," combines an upbeat piano with a sublime instrumental backdrop. "Longing" has the feel of classic nightclub jazz, with Crosara's gentle keys backed by old hands Clipper Anderson on acoustic bass and Mark Ivester on drums. "Julia's Tango," "Gymnopédie No. 4" and the title track all have that gentler feel. The gospel-tinged "Passion" features Farko Dosumov on electric bass, with Crosara's piano echoing the influences of Herbie Hancock and Ramsey Lewis. The last three cuts switch up personnel and tempo. "One Day Honey, One Day Onions" breaks into full fusion mode, with Crosara playing synthesizer, Dosumov on electric bass and D'Vonne Lewis on drums. Also in the fusion camp, the final track, "Sarvara," showcases Osama Afifi, who turns in a magnificent performance on electric bass while staying true to the melody. The upbeat melodies and controlled solos and harmonies of the CD draw comparisons to Bill Evans and Chick Corea. With its global influences and international cast of musicians, Circular Motion takes us on a grand musical journey across continents and decades.

(Above is from the May 2024 printed edition of Fra Noi Magazine. Below is David Witter's review from the digital edition.)

The title track to jazz pianist Francesco Crosara's latest recording, "Circular Motion," represents a practically perfect combination of jazzy improvisation and a recurring melody line. This mellow tune is like a cool spring day, with bass and drums doubling as a clear blue sky and the piano riffs playing the part of puffy clouds drifting by. Bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Mark Ivester provide the understated backbeat, giving Crosara plenty of room to play. While some jazz charts rely on a be-bop torrent, "Circular Motion" leans on a catchy melody, not unlike Vince Guaraldi of "Peanuts" fame. It could easily serve as theme music for a movie of TV show. To watch the video, click here:





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