MEXICO CITY — The Italian Institute of Culture hosted on May 12 the first-ever concert of Italian Jazz legend Franco D’Andrea in Mexico and Latin America. The beautiful colonial house on Francisco Sosa street, in the Coyoacán borough, was the ideal setting to welcome the man with over 200 records, whose list of prizes won is as long as a piano keyboard, as he delighted the audience for over an hour of solo pieces reminding everyone why he is considered among Italy’s finest jazz players of the last 50 years.
D’Andrea’s musical accomplices over the decades have included such evocative names as Gato Barbieri, Stece Lacy, Dave Liebman or Max Roach.
The free concert — most suitably followed by Italian wine — was held as part of the “Piano Forte Italia” series, a joint agreement between the Institute, the Florence Academy of Art and the Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo (UAEH), featuring performances and master classes. The host for the night was cultural attaché Marco Marica, who dispensed of formalities “for a man that needs no introduction,” as music henceforth plunged all those present into the mood swings of great jazz performed greatly.
In a packed auditorium, the musings of D’Andrea’s piano befitted the wandering silhouettes of couples desperately seeking a seat from row to row, with bursts of applause in between songs the only sound to be heard apart from the keystrokes.
D’Andrea offered a jazz of crescendos and conversations, dark-hued backgrounds and stupendous dexterity. At the end of the last piece, the player disappeared behind his piano, leaving a suspended audience quite immobile, until the attaché saw fit to break the spell and usher everyone onto the patio.
As an additional treat, at 2:03, watch Franco D’Andrea in Milan, 1994, as part of the Phil Woods quartet with Attilio Zanchi (db), and Gianni Cazzola (dr).