Franco D’Andrea needs no introduction as a musician. The story of his art is so rich, intense and logically coherent that there is no point in listing here all his many collaborations, encounters and major works. To do so would require a separate publication, and of some size, too – capable of doing justice to the whole of his formidable career in sufficient detail.

And then again, to be able to reduce his temperament, his originality and consistency, to a brief outline that still means something, one would really have to be a poet. Not a poet fond of abstruse and high-flown wordplay, though, but one with that knack of day-to-day language, plain but full of meaning, used by our finest poets. The same language spoken by Franco through the piano, always seeking the leanest poetry, stripped down to its essentials but profoundly true, drawn from a language wonderfully poised between the everyday and the supernatural. A language rooted in the tradition of African American music, to the point where it is not always easy to follow all the way back every single detail of its rhythmic digressions, insistent riffs and many quotations, which are always appropriations made in the name of authenticity. Franco’s work needs repeated listening, familiarity, care, willingness to discover and be surprised.

That’s the same attitude that he himself brings to music – other people’s music, for a start, which few can listen to with the same penetrating acumen as Franco. And of course to his own music, too, which was weaned by contact with Nunzio Rotondo in Roma in the Sixties and then dazzled into life by his encounter with Gato Barbieri, who first introduced him to the potential of free, explosive creativity, and who also involved him in historic musical episodes such as the recording of the soundtrack for the film Last Tango in Paris.His experimental period began with the Modern Art Trio, together with Franco Tonani and Bruno Tommaso – music that was too far ahead of its time to enjoy the kind of lasting recognition it still deserves. It lingers on, however, more mature, consciously structured, embedded in his work today: in the audacious research undertaken by his Quartet with Andrea Ayassot, Aldo Mella and Alex Rolle (now followed by Zeno De Rossi); in the explorations of Eleven; in the powerful reflections of his solo playing, whose wide-ranging syntheses tackle the mighty peaks of Ellington, Tatum, Monk, bringing out the points of understanding with his own language. In all his more recent work there was a constant tension, an ongoing dialectic, between innovation and tradition, between Africa and the West. That tension has been maintained, deeper and with renewed vitality, in the latest trios he has formed: atypically with trumpet and trombone (Fabrizio Bosso and Gianluca Petrella) or with twin bass (Ares Tavolazzi and Massimo Moriconi), or classically with Massimo Manzi and Tavolazzi again, finding a quite brilliant way of revisiting jazz history without treading right in the footsteps of Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock or Bud Powell.

Giuseppe Segala

Discography

Last albums, go to discography section to view more

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    Piano Trio – Trio Music Vol II

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    Piano Trio – Trio Music Vol II

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    Electric Tree – Trio Music Vol. I

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    Three Concerts. Live at the Auditorium

Next concerts

Go to Concerts section to view more

Day Month Location Set
8 November Amsterdam, Bimhuis Franco D'Andrea Trio & Han Bennink
12 November Milan, Teatro dell'Arte Franco D'Andrea Trio & Han Bennink