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Francesco Turrisi: Fotografia

Ian Patterson By

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Francesco Turrisi: Fotografia It would be simplistic to call pianist Francesco Turrisi an experimenter, though his music embraces myriad cultural influences, from his native Italy through the length and breadth of the Mediterranean, straddling the centuries, and imbibing from sources as diverse as baroque, Moorish airs and jazz; simplistic, because his music flows as naturally as a river follows its bed—it is in Turrisi and of him, and it guides him. As on Turrisi's memorable debut, Si Dolce e il Tormento (Diatribe, 2009), there is no sense of striving to fuse, no sense of painstaking construction; on Fotografia, there is instead, a very natural sounding confluence of ideas and emotions.

Though Fotografia shares the same neo-classical, folk-tinged, fringes-of-jazz adventurism of Turrisi's debut, it's a darker, more impressionistic offering, and seemingly more conceptual as a whole. Inspired by the Italian tradition of encouraging children to sketch pensierini—little thoughts—Turrisi creates sonic edifices around various themes, sympathetically and intuitively supported by drummer João Lobo and acoustic bassist Claus Kaarsgaard. The titles—"I Am The Shadow Man," "Remorse," "A Thousand Pieces," "Ants," "Towards the Depths"—are suggestive of the sometimes somber impressionism in these vignettes, though lyricism of aching beauty lies embedded throughout Fotografia.

Seven pensierini run from the ten-second fractural idiosyncrasy of "Pensierino 1, in mille pezze," to the strangely weightless "Pensierino 7, verso il basso," which features Turrisi on piano innards and beautiful bass figures from Kaarsgaard. In between, there are dramatic chords, moody arco and tinkling percussion on the vaguely sinister "Pensierino 2, Sono l'uomo ombra" and the melancholy of "Pensierino 3, rimorso," with Lobo's slow walking bass suggesting sad self-absorption. Turris's rapid, repeated motif on "Pensierino 4, formicai" conveys the head-down relentlessness of an ant on a mission, whereas "Pensierino 5, scarabocchio" has a start-stop, scurrying quality. Pensierino 6, il lago fantasma" holds a serene yet ghostly ambience in its baroque frame.

Rather than string these pensierini together in a continuous suite, Turrisi breaks them up with short flights of lyrical imagination. Solo piano "Fotografia 1" exudes contemplative stillness, though it's not without an absorbing energy. There's more of a narrative to "Fotografia 2," with its Mediterranean blues, and it's somehow old and modern simultaneously. A folksy rendition of "Luiza" captures Antonio Carlos Jobim's blues vein, with Turrisi's sparingly used left hand resting altogether. "Pensierosa (for Helen) hovers between meditative and classically grand, and the undeniably moving "Lachrimae" has the uncommon beauty of a Beethoven Piano Sonata—though, again, it is essentially a haunting blues.

At the midpoint, and bookending these reflective pieces, are three traditional Italian compositions inspired by singer Pino de Vittorio's interpretations. Kaarsgaard's brooding arco is protagonist on the first half of "Alla Caprinese," which moves from dark to light as Turrisi's feathery lyricism illuminates the piece. "Attaccati li Tricci" I & II highlight Turrisi's lovely, tumbling Arabesque lines, and penchant for conjuring with simple melodies.

Less immediately accessible than Turrisi's first CD, Fotographia, is, nevertheless, totally absorbing and points to an artist who refuses to stand still. The shading, nuance and emotional depth make for a captivating journey.

Track Listing: Attaccati li Tricci; Fotographia I; Pensierino I, in mille pezze; Luzia; Pensierino II, sono l'uomo ombra; Pensierosa (for Helen); Pensierino III, rimorso; Alla Carpinese; Pensierino IV, formicai; Lachrimae (for my father); Pensierino V, scarabocchio; Pensierino VI, ill ago fantasma; Fotografia II; Pensierino VII, verso il basso; Attaccato li Tricci II.

Personnel: Francesco Turrisi: piano; Claus Kaarsgaard: bass; João Lobo: drums.

Title: Fotografia | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Diatribe Records


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