Debut album One (Irma Records/Sony Music) is released, just on the eve of the new italian acid jazz scene. With the english organist James Taylor (of James Taylor Quartet) as main guest, the album sells 10.000 copies in Europe & sends GAZZARA live to the UK, with a memorable gig at the legendary Jazz Cafè in Camden Town, London. Three singles/remixes are taken from the album: “Can’t Hide Love” – of Earth,Wind & Fire fame -, “Our Man In Rio” &“Sexuality”. The group at this stage features all three founder members – Francesco Gazzara on keys, Massimo Sanna on bass & Mauro Mirti on percussion – plus soul vocalist Desirèe Mohammad from Chicago & MC Kevin Ettienne from London.
GAZZARA’s line up & sonic style goes under a deep metamorphosis, approaching an electro boogie sound courtesy of producer Ohm Guru. By their second album Grand Central Boogie (Irma Records) the writing team, alias Francesco Gazzara & Massimo Sanna, join with the talents of young vocalist Elise, soul singer Michael Allen – a legend from the Hi Records label in Memphis, US – &, by the following tour, jazz trumpeter Giovanni Di Cosimo. Thanks to the album single Timeless, remixed by the american DJ collective Orange Factory & included in the french sold out compilation Hotel Costes 3, GAZZARA quickly establishes itself as a cult live band on the jazz house club scene. Many shows follow the second album, & the group from Rome, Italy, gets booked at the great Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Italian label RaiTrade releases the soundtrack of TV film Donne Di Mafia – director Giuseppe Ferrara – written & arranged by Francesco Gazzara. At the same time Gazzara writes the score for the short TV movie Alfabeto Italiano: L’Ultima Volta, directed by Cristina Comencini & contributes with one song to the film Controvento by director Peter Del Monte.
Following the release of some lounge/exotica tracks for several Irma Records compilations, GAZZARA’s parallel project, Hammond Express, is quickly up & running. An instrumental trio dedicated to organ & other vintage keyboard sounds, not anchored to only one genre (jazz) & with plenty of electronic experimentation: debut album Rendez-Vous is released on the Scenario Music label. Apart from the regular GAZZARA members, on the record shines cuban flutist Eduardo Piloto Barreto, son of the great pop writer & singer Marino Barreto, from the ‘60’s era.
GAZZARA releases third album The Spirit Of Summer (Irma Records), a well crafted bridge between acoustic brasilian atmospheres & dancefloor house. Three added musicians join the original line up in this recording: Eduardo Piloto Barreto on flute, jazz/house Chicago vocalist Wendy Lewis & Giovanni Di Cosimo on trumpet. The single The Spirit Of Summer, remixed by new yorker DJ John Cutler, enter the Masters At Work selections, the best in house music chart reference. With a new line up - Francesco Gazzara (rhodes, moog, hammond, guitar), Yasemin Sannino (vocals), Massimo Sanna (bass), Mauro Mirti (percussion), Eduardo Piloto Barreto (flute), GAZZARA also tours Japan & Portugal.
At the same time this is what great brasilian composer Eumir Deodato says about GAZZARA: “I was totally amazed when I heard GAZZARA’s rendition of two of my favorite original songs, ‘West 42nd Street’ & ‘Havana Strut’. The band was not only able to capture the essence of those 2 tracks from the 70s but also to give them a strong & fresh flavor. It’s amazing to hear how good these guys sound! Specially Francesco’s production. I wish them all the luck in the world!”
GAZZARA visits Russia twice, invited to play live in Moscow after The Spirit Of Summer reaches the country. In the meantime a change occurs in both the band’s line up & sound. After several years of melting electronic rhythms with acoustic instruments, GAZZARA decides to widen the line up – for the first time since the debut album One – adding a drummer and a guitarist to the live set, a final step towards the sextet that will be ready in 2006. This is the start of a new jazz rock sound, made of acoustic timbres & solid soul rhythms, a new style that also easily recalls the best tunes from the past.
Two unreleased GAZZARA tracks are included in Irma Records new compilations: “Verdade Ou Magia”, sung by brasilian jazz singer Ithamara Koorax – with portuguese lyrics especialy written by poet Paulo Sergio Valle, brother of bossanova king Marcos Valle – & the Herbie Hancock cover “Butterfly”, rearranged in an acoustic & orchestral style, not far from the Henry Mancini rendition of the same tracks in the early seventies. One more track, a surprising jazz funk version of pop hit “Turn It On Again” by Genesis, is due later in 2006.
Finally, after more than a year of sessions between Rome, Florence, Rio De Janeiro & Los Angeles, GAZZARA’s fourth album is released on the 12th of april by new label Ritmica (distrib. Halidon). Titled Brother And Sister, this record represents the most radical change in the group’s sound since the early days. A welcome come back for guest vocalists Desiree Mohammad (“Love Is The Answer”) & Wendy Lewis (“Pay To Play”), while Yasemin Sannino is confirmed as band’s lead singer (on first single “Love Needs Time”, title track “Brother And Sister” & soul driven “Back To Memphis”). Rio jazz diva Ithamara Koorax features on super bossa “O Passarinho”, while cuban Eduardo Piloto Barreto (flute, sax) and double bassist Luca Fogagnolo add a latin jazz flavour to the album. Co-producer & guitarist is composer Marco Lamioni (head of label Silence from Florence), with his unique cool jazz touch.
Brother And Sister’ second single is released, “O PASSARINHO” (featuring Rio’s jazz diva Ithamara Koorax on vocals), especially remixed by the worldwide known german DJ Tom Novy. Work in progress for the fifth album (due in 2008) with, among many other guests, the new talented dutch singer Lily Latuheru.