Riccardo Del Fra

Double bassist and Composer (b.1956, Rome)

Riccardo del Fra is an eclectic musician and Head of Jazz and Improvisation at the Conservatoire de Paris. He mixes jazz and contemporary music in his compositions, taking inspiration from Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Alban Berg, Gustav Mahler, Ligeti and Tôru Takemitsu (a Japanese composer he particularly cherishes).

Riccardo del Fra studied the double bass at the Frosinone Conservatoire with Franco Petracchi and Franco Noto, he simultaneously studied Sociology at the University of Rome. He was soon called upon to perform with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in jazz concerts and for film score recordings. He then played with various groups as lead bassist and accompanied American jazz musicians touring in Italy, such as Art Farmer, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, James Moody, Lee Konitz, Tommy Flanagan and Paul Motian.

In 1979 he played with Chet Baker in Rome. After this meeting he accompanied the trumpet player for nine years, on long tours in Europe and Japan, and on radio and television. This collaboration birthed twelve albums, and the film Chet’s Romance, by Bertrand Fèvre. 

At the beginning of the 80s Riccardo del Fra moved to Paris where he regularly performed with the pianist Alain Jean-Marie and the drummer Al Levitt, whilst still continuing to play with Chet Baker and Michel Graillier (pianist). After the death of Chet Baker in 1988, Ricardo Del Fra dedicated his album A Sip Of Your Touch to him, and started studying composition. In the 90s the trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer, whom he had taken composition classes with in Cologne, invited him to join his quartet. Riccardo del Fra used his passion for contemporary music to compose several complex, demanding works mixing jazz and improvisation. In 2009 he wrote Sky Changes and Tree Thrills for the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the saxophonist Dave Liebman. He also played on recordings for contemporary composers – Paul Mefano’s group 2e2m asks him to record several pieces by Tôru Takemitsu. Riccardo del Fra has also composed for the cinema, most notably for filmmaker Lucas Belvaux. The Cinémathèque française gave him carte blanche in 2008. 

Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Riccardo del Fra 

1979: Met Chet Baker 

1993: His composition Silent Call, a jazz quartet for string orchestra, was performed at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris. 

2004: Made Head of the Jazz and Improvisation Department at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (The Paris Conservatoire).

2005: Founds the Jazoo Project, a sextet made up of young musicians mostly from the Conservatoire, with whom he recorded Roses & Roots

2006: Received the Golden Django, the highest award in the jazz world. 

2008: The Académie du Jazz awarded him the prize of “Best European Musician”