‘Grigio’ – Francesco Turrisi

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GRIGIO by name and understated cover art, but colourfully overflowing in atmosphere, musicality and originality, this eclectic release by Italian-born Dublin-based Francesco Turrisi celebrates and interprets the varied hues of Irish, Italian and Hebrew music.

Pianist and composer/arranger Turrisi assuredly directs this diverse collection, encouraging both close ensemble playing and individuality from his outstanding instrumentalists – Nick Roth (soprano sax), Kate Ellis (cello), Dan Bodwell (bass) and Sean Carpio (drums), plus guest Zohar Fresco (frame drums, percussion and additional vocals). The gleaming, crowning jewels in this project are two contrasting vocalists – Irish traditional singer Róisín Elsafty and multi-genre songstress Clara Sanabras – each bringing their particular warmth and character to the songs contained within the ten-track album.

Advancing straight to Turrisi’s title composition, Grigio, one immediately senses the subtlety and invention to be discovered here. Over a slow, mysterious piano ostinato (vaguely reminiscent of Soft Machine’s ‘The Tale of Taliesin’ from way-back-when), the mesmeric weaving of closely-toned cello and sax combined with expressive drums/percussion creates an arresting, spatial soundscape. John Zorn’s Hadasha employs similar patterns (though with a different, more upbeat hook) to coax the most striking guttural, hard-blown screechings and complex percussive improvisations to Turrisi’s ground bass and bright internal piano-string tracery. Indeed, the instrumental explorations are such that, frequently, it is difficult to discern the origins of the unusual blends of sound, making the experience all the more compelling.

Che si può fare introduces the sumptuously-ornamented voice of Clara Sanabras, bringing a special kind of theatre to the Italianate descending-bass motif of the piano trio (Turrisi, Bodwell, Carpio) – beautifully expressive throughout. The ingeniously long, sustained, overlapping EBow/piano technique demonstrated in traditional Irish tune Eleanór a rún creates an ethereal canvas for the pure, crystal-clear folk singing of Róisín Elsafty, as if ebbing and flowing beneath the calm of early morning mists. Elsafty’s diction and phrasing are magical… time seeming to stand still for these all-too-brief six minutes.

Nick Roth’s reverential arrangement of traditional Hebrew melody Maoz tsur, featuring his lachrymose soprano sax embellishments and Fresco’s synagogue-suggested wordless vocals over piano, cello and frame drums, lead to an ancient Irish lament, Síle Bheag Ní Chonnallainí, Turrisi providing sensitive piano accompaniment to Elsafty’s beguiling lyricism. Clara Sanabras illuminates early baroque composer Tarquinio Merula’s Canzonetta spirituale sopra la nanna, Bodwell’s repeated flexing bass a key element; and Sanabras’ voice also animates a Stefano Landi madrigal, Augellin, the leader offering considerable pianistic impetus as well as considered, deliberate soloing.

The rhythmically gentle motif of Turrisi’s own Tu ridi repeats with finely balanced piano, cello, voice and sax, though also surprises with some satisfyingly unexpected harmonic turns. Concluding, Róisín Elsafty’s reassuring, hushed vocal to Gaelic lullaby Seothin seó is quietly enhanced by Francesco Turrisi’s so-delicate pianistic ‘rocking’… bringing a particularly touching eventide glow to a recording of genuine beauty and refinement.

Launching in the UK at The Vortex, London, on 10 February 2014, followed by UK release on 24 February, ‘Grigio’ is available from Diatribe Records, Ireland’s foremost record label for new music.


Francesco Turrisi
piano, EBows
Nick Roth soprano saxophone
Kate Ellis cello
Dan Bodwell double bass
Sean Carpio drums

Special guests
Clara Sanabras vocals
Róisín Elsafty vocals
Zohar Fresco frame drums, percussion, vocals

Diatribe – DIACD015 (2013)

Diatribe.ie
francescoturrisi.com

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‘meets I Dig Monk, Tuned’ – ReDiviDeR

Redivider

AN INTRIGUING and, ultimately, satisfying second album from experimental Irish four-piece, ReDiviDeR, led by drummer and composer Matthew Jacobson.

The chordless (and palindromic) quartet have frequently trodden the festival trail of their homeland with an interesting mix of textures, grooves and samples, all melded by an innate jazz sensibility played out on alto sax, trombone, bass and drums. Citing such influences as Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus and Tim Berne, this latest release reveals their sharp creativity to a wider audience. And, if your ears are responsive (as well as eyes open to one or two track/guest-name japes – though my guess is the ‘AleX’s were an anagram too far!), there is much here to savour. Following up 2012 debut ‘Never odd or eveN’, they are found here in collaborative vein as four established UK jazz musicians guest on tracks written specifically with them in mind (the anagram of ‘United Kingdom’ as album title ‘I Dig Monk, Tuned’ far too clever for me!).

Leaping straight to the centrepoint of the seven tracks (a couple of which are brief interludes), Bin Saved begins with a compelling descending pattern over which a resonant fretless electric bass with trombone, plus alto embellishment, invites guest cellist Ben Davis to improvise impassionedly into a solo spotlight. Nick Roth’s alto then takes the piece on a new, raunchier route, Davis and Derek Whyte sharing the rocky bassline, Jacobson snapping cleanly on drums. Concluding with mellower, more echoic trombone and bass, it’s quite a number!

Opener, Twin Kodes, features the now-almost-trademark abstract Rhodes wizardry of Kit Downes, followed by effective, trippy, post-produced trombone from Colm O’Hara; then… a twist into Downes’ ‘Troyka’ territory and a random-yet-structured trombone/sax dash to the finish. Animal Code sees Alex Bonney’s trumpet beefing-up the horns, a wild elephantine cacophony ensuing over stampeding drums and electronics.

The guitar of Alex Roth brings an altogether different timbre to Velvet Pouch, a dark, smouldering track of repeated riffs and effects against an intensifying bass and drum groove whilst, finally, May I Agree‘s semitone-clustered, cascading horn melodies tumble along to Jacobson’s pointed, snare-driven rhythm.

As members of touring initiative Match & Fuse, it’s easy to understand why ReDiViDeR are a popular live act – check out the links below for further information.


Matthew Jacobson
drums  matthewjacobsonmusic.com
Derek Whyte bass
Nick Roth alto sax
Colm O’Hara trombone
with
Kit Downes keys
Alex Roth guitar
Alex Bonney trumpet/electronics
Ben Davis cello

ReDiviDeR
Diatribe
Match & Fuse

Diatribe – DIACD016 (2013)