Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Carlos Franzetti & Allison Brewster Franzetti: Luminosa (Sunnyside)

Thomas Conrad's review of album by pianist/arranger and his wife, a concert/classical pianist

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Cover of Carlos Franzetti & Allison Brewster Franzetti album Luminosa (Sunnyside)
Cover of Carlos Franzetti & Allison Brewster Franzetti album Luminosa (Sunnyside)

The term Renaissance man is thrown around too loosely these days. But Carlos Franzetti really is one. He is a composer, arranger, conductor, vocalist and pianist who moves at will across the theoretical borders separating classical music, jazz, film scores and the folkloric traditions of his native Argentina.

This album continues two long-term Franzetti collaborations: one with his wife, Allison Brewster Franzetti, a classical concert pianist, and one with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The program contains three works by Franzetti, including a concerto and a set of interludes from a ballet. There are also two tangos by popular 20th-century Argentinian composers (Horacio Salgan and José Dames), and a new commissioned concerto by Grammy-winning composer Claudia Montero.

Luminosa is not the first Franzetti album a jazz fan should buy. That designation goes to Steve Kuhn’s Promises Kept, from 2004, with flowing, lush arrangements by Franzetti, a rare successful example of jazz piano with string orchestra. Luminosa is a strict formalist project, with a distinctly classical sensibility. Still, nothing Franzetti does is narrow in reach. Dames’ “Nada” is magnified by a philharmonic orchestra, yet contains the particular, personal human yearning only a tango can express. The first of Franzetti’s three ballet interludes, “Dante Noir,” is haunting like film noir. (Franzetti released a whole album called Film Noir in 2008.) And this music always includes, at surprising moments, jazz chords and progressions.

There is a more universal appeal: Luminosa is profoundly pretty. The liner notes, by producer James Fitzpatrick, even reference easy-listening formats. To be sure, all the pieces here have an alluring surface and a life-affirming lilt. But the intellectual refinement with which Franzetti assembles his projects, and the depth of his emotional content, gives Luminosa qualities that easy-listening music lacks, like brains and balls.

Preview, buy or download songs from the album Luminosa by Carlos Franzetti and Allison Brewer Franzetti on iTunes.

Originally Published