On his impressive new album, Colors , Francesco Crosara proves he is a pianist with expert chops and broad interests.
Born in Italy and based now in Chicago, Crosara has an awareness of world music but a firm grounding in the modern jazz vernacular. His major piano influences are unsurprising: Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Like them, he has an interest in electric as well as acoustic jazz. On several numbers he switches to the recently resurgent Fender Rhodes piano, with very satisfying results. With Crosara on the Rhodes, the beautiful ballad "Someday My Prince Will Come" takes on a surprisingly funky, almost acid-jazz feel. The album's most ambitious number, "Suite Venus," is an original dedicated to Corea that traces Chick's musical evolution on both acoustic and electric pianos. Crosara also offers a splended 11-minute version of Hancock's "Dolphin Dance."
There's a little bit of everything here: thoughtful solo piano (a lovely rendition of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most"), hard-driving small-group jazz, even a Portuguese language vocal by guest singer Claudia Perez. An added highlight is the presence of Chicago tenor sax legend Von Freeman on several tracks. Freeman's warm tenor sound and Crosara's gentle touch at the piano meld together seamlessly.
Track Listing: Dolphin Dance (11:25); Colors (4:52); Someday My Prince Will Come (5:50); I Loves You Porgy (-6:50); Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (8:53); Plutonium 239 (4:14); Petite Peach (3:42); Say Goodbye (3:13); Suite Venus (dedicated to Chick Corea) (12:30); Passion (Paixao) (4:27);
Personnel: Francesco Crosara (piano, synthesizers & Fender Rhodes); Von Freeman (tenor sax); Dave Marr (acoustic bass); Rusty Jones (drums), Dean Taba (electric bass); Noel Okimoto (drums); David Choy (soprano sax); Souren Baronian (dumbek percussions), Claudia Perez (vocals on Passion)
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.