Narrator and Innovator, everywhere a foreigner and yet profoundly Italian. A jazz musician irresistibly attracted to revolutionary processes in his eternal search for creating More.
Listen to Francesco Bearzatti’s "Dear John" (2019) and you’ll understand how. Much more than a tribute to John Coltrane’s mark on modern jazz and sax playing, it’s a love letter that pays homage to the legacy and goes beyond by introducing new and highly individual elements to the music … “Sometimes, originality lies in sincere imitation and then in a respectful questioning of tradition.” (Brian Morton)
Early days of Rock & testing the boundaries
Listening to rock and punk rock legends leaves an indelible influence on the young Bearzatti, growing up in the Friuli province of northern Italy. He devotes several years to rock and pop music, performing in local nightclubs and recording electronic music which continues to pervade a lot of his work. Graduate in clarinet Conservatory of Udine, Italy, he goes on to perfect his studies at Jazz Mobile, New York with George Coleman.
Among the first and formative experiences has got to be the album Live At Vartan (1995) and ensuing US tour with the first Russian trumpeter to make it on the American scene Valery Ponomarev and versatile drummer Ben Riley, best known for his work with Thelonious Monk. In 1994 Bearzatti forms the Kaiser Lupowitz Trio with Enrico Terragnoli on guitar and Zeno De Rossi on drums. Clearly inspired by New York, the Trio stands out for its deep folk drive and embarks on a journey “without limits” and marked by “a joy for experimentation and respect for tradition”. They record Dommage (1996) with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and You Don’t! (1998) at the Systems Two Studio in Brooklyn with Josh Roseman.
Making his mark on the European scene
Suspended Steps (1998) is Bearzatti’s first album as lead musician and sets the tone for European success. Paolo Birro on piano, Marc Abrams on double bass and Max Chiarella on drums, it’s largely an original repertoire and includes tributes to Coltrane and Rollins. This album “leaves no room for doubt about what Bearzatti’s made of and is an inspiration to other emerging artists”. The public and critics like the French magazine JazzMan love it. The Narrator produces a dynamic balance between delicate lyricism in his theme and vigour in his solo pieces with an originality, yet incredible ease that by now had become his trademark.
Subsequent years spent in Paris mark a high point in Francesco’s career. He forms a great friendship with the versatile jazz and rock drummer Aldo Romano and contributes to Because of Bechet (2002). Even when collaborating with other musicians Bearzatti remains true to his style. He can enter in perfect symmetry with a band but always allows room for lyrical flights of genius, phrases on the verge of aphasia whilst remaining riveted to the basic melody. He meets the virtuoso organ player Emmanuel Bex and forms the Bizart Trio. The “multi-woodwind ace” man’s the helm on Virus (2003) and “undoes conventional organ-based trio fare with some cleverly devised arrangements to produce a wonderfully inventive outing indeed!” What’s the secret? In the thirst to produce More, Bearzatti leads the band in altering previously rendered motifs via cunning improvisational opuses, in concert with a silky-smooth edge. The Trio replicate the following year with Hope joined by the grand master of Italian jazz Enrico Rava.