Francesco Turrisi (piano) - "Northern Migrations"
GRAMMY award winning pianist Francesco Turrisi has been defined a “musical alchemist” and a “musical polyglot” by the press. He left his native Italy in 1997 to study jazz piano and early music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he obtained a Bachelor and a Master’s degree. Since 2004 he has been working successfully as a freelance musician.
He has released five genre-defying and critically acclaimed albums as a leader and two as co-leader (“Tarab” a cross boundary innovative ensemble that blends Irish and Mediterranean traditional music, and “Zahr” a project that looks at connections between southern Italian traditional music and Arabic music). His latest piano solo album “Northern Migrations” was described as “delicate, wistful and wholly engrossing” by the Irish Times. Francesco has toured as solo pianist in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, USA, New Zealand.
Francesco is also a member of the celebrated classical ensemble L'Arpeggiata. With l'Arpeggiata he has performed at the most important classical music festivals and venues in Europe and around the world (Turkey, Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Brasil, Colombia) and has recorded for Warner, Virgin, Naive and Alpha.
Since 2018 he has been collaborating with American Grammy award winning singer and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, on a duo project that seamlessly combines music from the Mediterranean with music from the African diaspora in the Americas. In 2019, Giddens and Turrisi released their critically acclaimed duo album “There Is No Other”. The album single “I’m On My Way” was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY Award. Their 2021 second duo album “They’re Calling Me Home”, out on Nonesuch records, was nominated for two GRAMMY awards, and won a GRAMMY award as best folk album at the 2022 GRAMMY awards.
Turrisi is equally at home playing with jazz veterans Dave Liebman and Bill Frisell as he is with Irish traditional sean- nós singer Róisín Elsafty and with tarantella specialist Lucilla Galeazzi. Turrisi has toured with Bobby McFerrin, interpreted the music of Steve Reich with Bang On A Can All Stars, and has accompanied flamenco star Pepe El Habichuela and Greek singer Savina Yannatou.
His long list of collaborations include:
Bobby McFerrin, Dave Liebman, Gianluigi Trovesi, Bill Frisell, Rhiannon Giddens, Nils Landgren, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Gavin Bryars, Gabriele Mirabassi, Rolando Villazon, Lisa Hannigan, Savina Yannatou, Maria Pia de Vito, Theodosii Spassov, The King’s Singers, Veronique Gens, Philippe Jaroussky, Pepe el Habichuela, Lucilla Galeazzi,
“His ability to rework ancient melodies and rhythms through a contemporary jazz prism marks Turrisi out as one of the most striking voices to have emerged on the European jazz scene in the past decade”- All About Jazz
About his "Northern Migrations" album, Turrisi has the following to say:
"I first started thinking about a piano solo program in 2015, when I got asked to perform a solo concert at the Hugh Lane gallery. I had flirted with that idea for a long time, but somehow was always a bit intimidated by the format. I am used to collaborating and playing with ensembles that range from very large to very small, but being all alone on a stage is a completely different energy.
There is something very introspective about performing piano solo, something about feeling very naked and exposed. At the same time there is the exhilarating feeling of being free to do whatever you want at any given moment. So it’s not a coincidence that a personal album such as "Northern Migrations" came about at a very difficult and transitional period in my life. A moment of big changes, a moment of pain, a moment of letting go of many things dear.
This album is a very deep and personal reflection on many things that have happened in my life until now. It’s about migration, about being far from the origins, about the nomadic life of musicians, about not belonging to a place in particular. It’s also about separation and loss, about pain and crisis, about grief and about learning to let go.
"Northern Migrations" is also about the journey that has been my experience as a musician and everything I have picked up on the way. It reflects on my Mediterranean roots, on the modal melodies, instruments and rhythms that connect Sicily with North Africa. It reflects on the early baroque music which I have studied and researched while living in the Netherlands, on the harmonic and melodic ideas behind the music of the great keyboard masters of the 17th century.
It reflects on my visceral passion for jazz, the only music that I have properly studied at a conservatory, on my passion for improvisation and for living the music moment by moment. There are probably too many other influences and connections that I can’t individually pinpoint in this music, coming from my constant thirst for finding and understanding new forms of musical expression. After 15 years of different musical projects and recordings, "Northern Migrations" represent a distilled version of my entire musical life.”