Olivia Foschi, A Window Within Review


Olivia Foschi, A Window Within Review

by Icrom Bigrad

Olivia-Foschi-Jazz-Sensibilities-CDOlivia Foschi delivers personal narratives into the fabric of her music that intricately and emotively will reward an engaged listener. Her latest album, A Window Within, is a collection of nine songs that explore the themes of life, love, loss, and resilience, echoing the universal human experience through the unique lens of her artistic journey.

Foschi’s musical odyssey flows from diverse influences and experiences. Born in San Francisco, raised in Italy, and nurtured by her Italian heritage, her passion for jazz blossomed under the guidance of Roy Zimmerman and through classical Nepali vocal studies with Aavaas in Kathmandu. Her academic pursuits in English Literature and formal music education across Italy and Leeds University provided a solid foundation for her artistic growth. This journey led her to a first-place victory at the “Jazz Women in Blues” competition in 2009 and further exploration of jazz in New York under the mentorship of Marc Mommaas, Fay Victor, and Jeremiah Abiah. The rhythmic complexities of Konnakol, studied with Ganesh Kumar since 2014, added another layer to her already multifaceted artistry.

Foschi’s third album, A Window Within, was born from global upheaval and personal loss. Sparked by a challenge from drummer Mauricio Zottarelli to expand her repertoire of original compositions, Foschi embarked on a cathartic creative process during the reflective solitude of the Covid pandemic and the poignant loss of her grandmothers. The result is an album that reaffirms her identity as a composer and musician and serves as a beacon of hope and resilience.

The collaborative spirit of the album is palpable. Foschi and Zottarelli’s synergy in crafting the arrangements is complemented by the adept touch of pianist Matt King. The ensemble, rounded out by Marco Panascìa on bass and Vinicius Gomes on guitar, breathes life into Foschi’s compositions, making the recording sessions at Trading 8s in Paramus, NJ, feel charmed.

“Caught Me By Surprise” captures the enchanting moment of Foschi’s first encounter with her future husband, Joel Kretschman; this track is a blend of konnakol and percussive vocal styles. The song’s rhythmic complexity and enchanting melody evoke the whirlwind emotions of love at first sight, making it a standout opening track.

Reflecting on the duality of Central Park’s reputation for love and loneliness, “Pieces of Central Park” is inspired by the sight of conservancy staff at work. Foschi explores the idea of collecting fragments of solitary visitors’ dreams to mend discarded hopes of love, offering a poignant reflection on finding beauty and joy amid solitude. The song’s intro features Foschi’s light, percussive vocals paired with Gomes’ nylon-strung guitar, creating a delicate soundscape. Her tone, combined with the light melody and bossa feel, entertains and allures listeners into her musical world, making it a standout piece on the album.

“Live With It,” co-written with Mauricio Zottarelli, is a high-energy track that celebrates the essence of spontaneity and rhythm. The diverse percussive elements embody the song’s title, capturing the spirit of Foschi’s son’s suggestion to “live with it for a while.” The wordless melody flows with a joyous spirit, showcasing Foschi’s subtle use of dynamics and her elegant phrasing abilities. Her nuanced delivery shapes the melody, making it a standout example of her vocal artistry.

“Cun la Préma Stëla” is a traditional 1920s song by D. G. C. Martuzzi and A. Spallicci; Foschi’s voice, cajon, and guitar arrangement breathes new life into this tale of young lovers reunited. This track underscores her commitment to her cultural roots and the preservation of a dying language. Her diction and energy are excellent.

A heartfelt tribute to her grandmother, Joan H. Martin, “Nona” navigates the complex emotions of loss, distance, and the longing for closure during the early days of COVID-19. It’s a touching ode to familial love and the enduring influence of Foschi’s grandmother. Foschi’s ballad singing is both emotive and expressive, pulling in the meaning of the lyrics with profound sensitivity. Her rhythmic accents shape and direct the melody, adding depth and nuance to this poignant piece. Foschi’s scatting is elegant, and the sounds are influenced by jazz’s accents and rhythms.

“East Wind” contemplates the global landscape and her personal introspections. This composition invites listeners into a meditative journey through the currents of change. The song echoes the shared experiences of uncertainty and resilience.

An exotic odd-metered bossa nova, “Savoring the Rain,” emerged spontaneously, celebrating the simple pleasure of rainfall on a glass ceiling shared between Foschi and her husband. The track highlights the beauty in life’s quiet moments and the natural rhythm of their life together. Foschi navigates the building melody with grace and expression, demonstrating her command of her tessitura. This piece beautifully underscores the album’s theme of finding joy and harmony in the subtle, everyday experiences.

“Subtle Farewell” is an introspective piece that bids adieu to the past while embracing the transformative journey brought on by recent years. It encapsulates the introspective and evolving nature of Foschi’s artistry. “John John Joel and Joan,” the closing track, uniquely merges konnakol with a story of serendipity and rediscovery. It symbolizes a full circle, celebrating the collaborative spirit of the project and the enduring power of music to connect and heal.

Recorded by Chris Sulit at Trading 8s and mixed and mastered by Dave Darlington in NYC, A Window Within is a vibrant capturing of Foschi’s artistry and her journey through life’s multifaceted challenges. Dedicated to her brother, Alex, and in memory of “Nona” Joan H. Martin, the album is a beacon of hope and resilience. Olivia Foschi’s A Window Within offers a harmonious blend of jazz that transcends borders and time, inviting listeners to a world where every note speaks of growth, introspection, and the unbreakable spirit of humanity.

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