CD Review: Here it comes again – Francesco Gazzara

Five years have elapsed since the release of Francesco’s first Genesis influenced album “Play Me My Song”and his recently released sequel “Here It Comes Again” continues his re-interpretation of classic Genesis tracks. He has, like on his previous album, focussed on genesis’s 1971-1980’s repertoire selecting ten tracks taken from the seven albums covering the Nursery Crime to Duke period of the bands history.

Francesco is a virtuoso pianist and as the music progresses from opening notes of “The Musical Box” into “Supper’s Ready” it becomes clear that this is not simply a tribute album but more a masterful musical reinterpretation for piano and orchestral ensemble. This approach is fairly unique and a refreshing change from the staple diet of note perfect performance from the multitude of tribute bands keeping the music alive. The range of instruments used on the album reads like a mini orchestra, with second a Hammond organ, Mellotron, Rhodes piano, Arp synths, electric and acoustic guitars, bass pedals  being used as accompaniment for the Grand Piano on which Francesco with a selection of orchestral instruments – mainly strings, reeds and horns being used to great effect for the soloist role in each individual song.

The individual tracks are performed in chronological order, opening with “The Musical Box” featuring guests musicians David Giacomini (electric guitar), Dario Cecchini (flute) and Valerio Sanna (clarinet) which segues into “Supper’s Ready” which introduces the listener to veritable feast of keyboards combined with more unusual instruments such as a melodica and tubular bells. With Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot covered Mauro Mirti (cajon) and Massimo Sanna (bass) join Francesco on  “I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe) providing a rhythmic backing to his keyboards. Like the previous two tracks and also the whole album the listener is left to interpret the vocals through the sounds of the instruments, a radically different approach to presenting the music of genesis but never the less is seems to work well. One of my favourite Genesis albums “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” is represented by “The Carpet Crawlers”; Francesco is accompanied by David Giacomini (Electric Guitar) on this track and the title track which is cleverly combined with “Dance on a Volcano” from “Trick of a Tail” with a slight hint of “Ripples” to provide the listener with a small Genesis medley. During the “Dance on a Volcano” section Francesco is joined by Gulia Nuti on viola who manages to include a little musical surprise towards the end of that section; you’ll have to listen to the album to find out what that is.

Two tracks from “Wind & Wuthering” and one from “And Then There Were Three” find Francesco introducing further string instruments into the mix with violinist Fabrizio Paoletti playing on “Eleventh Earl of Mar”, cellist Giogia Pancaldi supplying that mellow cello sound on “Afterglow” and rounding that section off with “Undertow” Francesco is accompanied by Stefano Corato on double bass.

The final couple of tracks bring the listener into the “Duke” era with the introduction of a soprano saxophone played by Dario Cecchini on “Heathaze” before Francesco brings the album to a close with “Guide Vocal” played simply on one of his pianos.

The notes provided to me along with the music stated “the project keeps building a sort of imaginary soundtrack where so many details of the original masterpieces – even some of the hidden ones, hard to hear without a pair of decent headphones – have been painstakingly brought up to the surface and assigned to other unusual instruments”; I have to admit that prior to receiving the material I had seen a couple of Genesis tribute bands as well as attending Steve Hackett’s Sheffield gig and I was a little sceptical as how this interpretation would go down. However, having listened to the album a couple of times whilst travelling and again whilst putting this review together I was impressed at the way Francesco had put his own mark on the music; the lack of vocals is negated by the clever and skilful use of the accompanying instruments and enables the listeners to hear the music in a different light.

Like his previous album “Play Me My Song” it may not appeal to everyone, but if you open to experimentation, excellent musicianship and maybe a hint of jazz then you should give it a listen to.

Tracklisting:

1. The Musical Box (11:01) – Nursery Cryme
2. Supper’s Ready (23:03) – Foxtrot
3. I Know What I Like (5:33) – Selling England by the Pound
4. The Carpet Crawlers (5:41) – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
5. Dance On a Volcano/The Lamb Lies Down On Broadwayl (4:37) – A Trick of the Tale / The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
6. Eleventh Earl of Mar (7:33) – Wind & Wuthering
7. Afterglow (4:38) – Wind & Wuthering
8. Undertow (4:10) – And Then There Were Three
9. Heathaze (4:59) – Duke
10. Guide Vocal (1:30) – Duke

Musicians:

FRANCESCO GAZZARA

Bechstein 1878 grand piano, Hammond b3 organ, Fender Rhodes, harpischord, Mellotron, synthesizers, melodica, guitars, bass pedals

Accompanied by:

DARIO CECCHINI

flute, soprano sax

FABRIZIO PAOLETTI

violin

GIULIA NUTI

viola

GIORGIA PANCALDI

cello

STEFANO CORATO

double bass

DAVID GIACOMINI

electric guitars

MASSIMO SANNA

bass

MAURO MIRTI

cajon, tambourine, shaker

Francesco’s albums are available on his website: 

http://www.gazzaraplaysgenesis.com

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