A haven from a bustling pre-Christmas Friday evening on Stephen’s Green, the Unitarian Church provided a perfect setting for Francesco Turrisi’s album launch. The intimacy and stillness of the space was a welcome contrast to the night outside, where the chimes of occasional Luas bells drifted beautifully into a mix of piano, trumpet/flugelhorn and drums. Now on his third solo release, the Dublin-based Italian confirmed again his credentials: his playful and infinite referencing to different musical styles and contexts. Opening with Nel Mezzo, a reflection on his own life, Turrisi and his partners descended into a focus that set the tone for the rest of the evening. The absence of a bass was initially noticeable, the lack of something to gel the force of the drums and piano. However, without it, other often neglected sounds came to the fore. The shining squeaks and rustles of Joao Lobo’s drumming rang out with the piano pulsing underneath and the trumpet searching the melody above. In the whirl of scrapes, and rolling rattles there were times when it was easy to miss a more conventional low end, but its subtlety increased as one grew accustomed to the arrangement and the textures of this beautiful fusion. There Fulvio Sigurta’s playing soared and wandered, one could follow it like a narrative with the clarity of his expression. His occasional use of a metal mute was sometimes jarring, but his connection to the melody was unwavering. Moving between flugelhorn and trumpet, his rounded tone was nearly always soft and warm. The Toccata Arpeggiata marked a change in the tone of the evening. The piano came cascading to the fore whilst the drums crackled beneath. The trumpet entered with a solemn, melancholic progression. When it ended, there was a sense of a awakening in the church, as though, during the short piece, time had become hard to follow. Uppon Lamire, the second track on the album, rang out into the church with a bare piano line echoing it’s 15th Century origins. The flugelhorn rolled around it and their contrary personalities seemed drawn to one another. Le, a lullaby for AoifeNaima, a compistion for his daughter, allowed Turrisi to drift beautiful flourishes into what was a delicate and thoughtful performance, with touches that brought back memories of Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood. A performance of quiet meditations, it filled the church with a contemplative peace. Turrisi’s playing moves from the foreground to the background seamlessly and with beautiful dynamics. Of this trio, his role seems the most elusive; whether he is providing rhythmic propulsion, introspective stirring flights, or meandering sleepy lines, one leaves knowing his playing and his musical charisma carries weight and originality.
Words: Davy Keogh