About Francesco

photo © Emanuele Maniscalco

The longest artist biography that a website could possibly ever host

I was born in Ferrara, Italy, 1982. I play mostly tenor saxophone and clarinet, but also self-built electronics, alto and soprano saxophone. My musical formation, mainly self-taught, was marked by the early encounter with Steve Lacy and three editions of the summer workshops at Siena Jazz.

I consider Enrico Rava and Stefano Battaglia as being among my most important mentors. I played with Enrico Rava’s Under 21 quintet between 2004 and 2005 and attended the Permanent Workshop held by Stefano Battaglia (in Siena) from 2004 to 2008. My involvement in the Workshop was followed by the birth of the Out-Vestigation quartet, with Giulio Corini and Emanuele Maniscalco, in 2007.

I experimented strategies of collective thinking and production between 2005 and 2017 as a member of El Gallo Rojo label/collective. The band Rootless, founded in 2001 together with Luca Dell’Anna and Massimiliano Sorrentini, led to the release of my first record with the collective: Brian Had A Little Plate (2005). A number of ensembles were nurtured within El Gallo Rojo, featuring me both as a sideman (Giulio Corini Libero Motu, Zeno De Rossi Trio, Beppe Scardino Orange Room, Alfonso Santimone Laser Pigs, Antonio Borghini Malebranche, Zeno De Rossi Shtik, Emanuele Maniscalco From Time To Time, Nelide Bandello Leibniz) and a co-leader (Osmiza, Headless Cat, Nesso G, Nimoy).

A side project that sprang from Orange Room, the collective trio Crisco 3, with Piero Bittolo Bon and Beppe Scardino, is one of my longest running ensembles. We performed in Italy, Denmark, Belgium, France and released two albums: You Can Never Please Anybody (2011) and Cosa c’è lì non c’è (2020).

I founded the band Houdini’s Cage in 2007 together with Zeno De Rossi and Enrico Terragnoli, making the album Memories Of A Barber (El Gallo Rojo) after a beautiful Italian tour. This marks the beginning of my fellowship with Greg Cohen. In 2008 Greg invited me to join his band Argus, that was featured at Polis Jadran Europa Festival in Pula, Croatia and I have been playing under his leadership in several context since then.

The trio Headless Cat, with Antonio Borghini on double bass and Federico Scettri on drums, was active approximately between 2008 and 2010 and published one album under El Gallo Rojo. Antonio, Federico and I didn’t play many concerts as a trio, but had for a couple of years one of the most intense working routines that I have experienced up to this date. This shaped my musical path in a way that I still find incredible.

I’ve been a member of Gianluca Petrella Cosmic Band between 2007 and 2014. This band released two records (on Spacebone) and held an intense live activity in some of the best Italian and European venues, such as Jazzfestival Saalfelden, Bergamo Jazz, Clusone Jazz, Umbria Jazz, Crossroads, Jazzfestival Münster, Auditorium Parco della Musica – Rome, Sounds of Music – Groningen, Berchidda Time In Jazz, Casa del Jazz – Rome. Cosmic Band won the critics poll held by the Italian jazz magazine Musica Jazz as the best Italian band of 2009.

I joined Francesco Diodati’s Neko quartet in 2009. This band released two records with the Italian independent label Auand Records. Since then, we have toured Italy on a regular basis and have been featured in several European venues (12 Points! - Dublin, Tremplin Jazz – Avignon) as well as on the road in Turkey and the US.

In 2011 I had the chance to perform Jim Black’s music under his leadership during an Italian residency. I met him again in Danilo Gallo’s band Dark Dry Tears, sharing the saxophone duty with both Francesco Bearzatti and Massimiliano Milesi. Dark Dry Tears got a wide recognition for its live activity (including an African tour that touched Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia in 2016), two records that have been released on Parco della Musica Records (Rome, Italy) and a number of live recordings and spin-offs issued on Bandcamp.

I moved to Copenhagen since 2009 and I’m still based there with my wife and two kids. I attended a 2-year post-graduate program (Soloist) at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory, with Django Bates, Nikolaj Hess and Carsten Dahl as supervisors. I quickly found my way into the Danish scene and collaborated with a number of artists, such as Jacob Anderskov (Euro-Agnostics, Onto Occidentals, Spirit of The Hive), Johanna Sulkunen (Johanna Elina, Sonority), Håkon Berre (Bigoni/Berre duo, Mighty Mouse – Contemporary Cheese Edition), Adam Pultz Melbye, Markus Pesonen (Hendectet, Bagpipes for Pluto), Morten Pedersen (Morten Pedersen Kvintet).

My trio Hopscotch, with Mark Solborg and Kevin Brow, was featured at Copenhagen Jazz Festival, released one album on ILK and marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Mark. This musical fellowship led to the making of the trans-European quintet On Dog (featuring Piero Bittolo Bon, Beppe Scardino and Marc Lohr), which toured extensively in Italy, Germany, Denmark and Luxembourg since 2012 and released three albums on ILK.

On Dog marked the start of my membership of the Danish collective/label ILK, in 2013. Another ILK feature is the collective trio with Emanuele Maniscalco and Mark Solborg, which released three albums (Maniscalco/Bigoni/Solborg, Foil and Canto). Our concerts in Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Italy and England featured from time to time guests such as Susana Santos Silva, Maria Faust and Evan Parker.

My friendship and collaboration with aforementioned Maria Faust is happening mostly in the band Sacrum Facere, that since 2014 published two records, help Maria getting several jazz music awards (three in Denmark, one in Estonia) and had an intense live activity in Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Italy.

I have been focusing my activities around woodwind ensembles for the past 10 years. One of them is Sidechains (with Sven Meinild, Maria Dybbroe, Martin Stender and Henrik Pultz Melbye), which has moved from exploring Maria and Sven’s compositions (in an album coming out on Barefoot Records in 2023) to being a collective of composers/performers.

My encounter with Federica Michisanti led to the start of her band Horn Trio (with Francesco Lento on trumpet), that published two albums and won the Musica Jazz critics poll as the best Italian band of 2019.

Since 2019 I co-lead the ensemble Unscientific Italians, which dates back to 2008, plays arrangements of Bill Frisell by Alfonso Santimone and features some of the most prominent performers on the Italian scene. Our two albums have been issued by the newborn label Hora Records in 2021 and 2022. With Unscientific Italians I was awarded yet another Musica Jazz critics poll (best band of 2021).

Born from a steady working schedule that was undisturbed for several months during the pandemic, Copenhagen Clarinet Choir is a sextet led by Carolyn Goodwin that explores materials composed and instigated by Carolyn, mostly inspired by embodied listening and flocking dynamics. Our record Organism (Aar & Dag) was very well received and is leading us to commissions (Carolyn Goodwin, Marcela Lucatelli), tours (Denmark, UK – Cafe Oto) and residencies (Polychrome, Andersabo – Sweden).

My musical friendship with Francesco Diodati was renewed in the French-Italian collective quartet Weave 4, with Benoît Delbecq and Steve Argüelles, born in 2021 within two residencies in Paris. After a lucky debut at moers festival 22, I can tell that this band is challenging my musical practice in many relevant ways.

For about ten years I have been regularly connected to the Rhythmic Music Conservatory as an external teacher and supervisor, both at master’s and soloist level. Since 2020 I have been teaching at Siena Jazz University, at bachelor and master’s level (saxophone, ear training, interplay and, currently, analysis of compositional forms and ensemble).

In parallel with my musical activity, I studied engineering at the Technical University of Denmark and Aalborg University – Copenhagen, focusing on acoustics, signal processing and interaction design. I published academic papers in conferences such as SMC, ISMIR, MOCO and AES Convention and developed a couple of musical instruments. One of them (working title: DogDog) works by estimating the quality of hand-arm movements and has been employed extensively on stage, especially with the trio Hands (featuring Mark Solborg and Almut Kühne), which uses movement as a generator of lyrics and sonic gestures.

Find my contacts and a list of the bands I am currently involved with.

As promised, this was the longest bio that a website could possibly ever host. Short bios in English, Italian and Danish will shortly be available for download together a CV.