Feb 7 2013
I originally became familiar with the music of Francesco Turrisi via his 2011 release Fotografia. An excellent album that featured a standard piano trio line-up, and fixated on a balance between chamber music and folk-infused jazz. What resulted was a pleasant duality of elegance and earthiness. On his current release, Songs of Experience, Turrisi sticks with the trio format, and while he has Joao Lobo returning on drums, he replaces the bass position with trumpeter Fulvio Sigurta. This results in an entirely different album. And while I would’ve been eminently content with more of the good stuff, I’m thrilled to witness Turrisi’s new direction.
Your album personnel: Francesco Turrisi (piano), Fulvio Sigurta (trumpet), and Joao Lobo (drums).
On its face, Turrisi has recorded a Nordic Jazz album. Moody and serene, the melodies drift and the rhythms twitter, and expansive sounds play out in a quiet corner of the world. In fact, the Nordic influence isn’t much of a stretch. Dublin-based, but his roots in Italian soil, it’s not inexplicable that the sounds of Scandinavia might’ve trickled down into Turissi’s music. Aside from the obvious effect of the digital age blasting through geographical barriers to allow music expressionism to spread across the face of the planet, there also appears to be a trend forming where the Nordic approach to Jazz is moving south as the Mediterranean Jazz movement reaches north to meet it.
There are examples on Bird is the Worm of Italian musicians performing tranquil Jazz influenced by local folk music. And while the mannerisms of the Italian folk music differ, say, from those of Copenhagen, the traits that become fused with Jazz create commonalities in sound. The crosscurrents of influence are also a result of musicians heading to other countries to study, as Turrisi did when he left Italy to study at Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands. Collaborations of differing musics find the soft places where similarities exist, and thus conjure up new ideas and new expressions and new sounds.
But this is all just the talk of influences and music trends… inside baseball, of interest primarily to jazz geeks like myself. Maybe to you, too.
What is the music like?
Piano with an icy sharpness, trumpet that expresses a weariness and hopefulness concurrently, and drums that say a lot when speaking very little. This is music that fills up the room when a pervasive stillness has taken hold. This is music that speaks in hushed tones, takes its time to express itself, and is fantastically evocative when it does.
Some tunes, like “Incubo N.1” offer up a Mingus-like mix of avant-garde and blues. And “Birth” is an exasperated statement of chamber music… something that, perhaps, fans of Wayne Horvitz might appreciate. But mostly we’re presented with tunes of elegance and austerity, dramatic tension persistently held at bay from finally boiling over, and, most importantly, a slowly unfolding beauty that develops seductively from the first note to the very last.
The album is Self-Produced, released on Turrisi’s Taquin Records label.
Jazz from the Dublin, Ireland scene.