Francesco Crosara, Circular Motion


OA2 Records, January 2024


Francesco Crosara’s recent release from OA2 Records, Circular Motion, vamps and revamps a curation of the jazz pianist’s repertoire—a set of ten pieces taken from a forty-year career. Backing comes from three different rhythm sections: Bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Mark Ivester; electric bassist Farko Dosumov and drummer D’Vonne Lewis; and bassist Osama Afifi with drummer Xavier Lecouturier. From these varying combinations — not to mention Crosara’s tracks on the Yamaha MODX-8 synth — the album is populated, as befits a forty-year retrospective, with diverse soundscapes.

One striking element of the album’s variety is its globe-trotting references. Opening with “Preludio Flamenco,” the album travels to “Julia’s Tango” before Crosara complicates Erik Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies with his own set of impressionistic exercises suggesting the birth of a fourth movement to the Spartan war dance — Gymnopaedia.

Visions of non-linear temporality are excavated from multiple locales, including Mount Kurama, the birthplace of Reiki (the spiritual healing practice based upon the circulation of qi — universal life force). Another vision is found in the Arabic expression maktoub — an acceptance of fate or literally “It is written” — one of Crosara’s mother’s favorite sayings. The track gives an arabesque contour to Dizzy Gillespie. In the final track, Crosara finds his own way to speak the Brazilian slang, saravá — an expression of both greeting and farewell originating in the Afro-Brazilian syncretic practices of Candomblé — in a jazz samba. Crosara skillfully translates the grammar of each style into his own voice, respecting the particular origins of each composition.

And yet, Crosara’s global palette is grounded in his fluid Latinate sensibility — with influences from both Rome and South America — having moved with his wife, after all, to the Pacific Northwest from Italy some seven years ago. Another grounding is found in Crosara’s classical Conservatory background and lifelong inspirations, Bill Evans and Chick Corea.

Crosara has deftly rejected the inexorably delimiting logic of linearity for a reflective and joyful circular motion, a replenishing via the return. The album holds points of interest for both long-time fans of Crosara — who has expanded, in many instances, on his original compositions — and new faces who have yet to listen to the Seattle jazz scene’s Italian pianist transplant.



Posted on

April 23, 2024