Keyboardist Frank LoCrasto tours with artists like Cass McCombs, the Fruit Bats and Uni. Over the past few years, he’s recorded with artists ranging from Parquet Courts to Pat Martino, Okkervill River and Greg Osby. LoCrasto calls his new album Lost Dispatch “synthesizer exotica,” and it's chock full of Elka organ, Farfisa, Micromoog, Prophet-5 and Crumar Orchestrator. Get to know our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week!
NAME: Frank LoCrasto
HOMETOWN: Garland, TX
MUSICAL TRAINING: I took lessons for a few months when I was five years old after loving a Casio keyboard my folks got me. I soon lost interest, though, because music is hard and I stopped practicing but got back into it again when I was 8. I played by ear for a few years and started studying again with Mike Finkel and soon after with Kent Ellingson. I went to high school at Booker T. Washington which is an arts magnet in downtown Dallas and from there onto the jazz program at the New School. Attending the arts magnet school was a huge turning point for me. I got to play regularly in ensemble settings, started recording regularly, and got deeper into composing and arranging.
FIRST GIGS: I scored a weekly gig when I was 10 playing every Saturday at a cafe inside an antique mall in Plano, TX from 12-2pm. It paid $20 plus tips and lunch. I brought a Casio with me and played blues, jazz, and some originals. I’d even use the built in drum machine occasionally doing a bass/piano split on the keyboard.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Les Baxter, Henry Mancini, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Perez Prado, Martin Denny, Wendy Carlos, Shuggie Otis, Weather Report, Bent Fabric
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Janko Nilovec's Un homme dans I’ univers, Van Dyke Parks' Discover America, Oscar Peterson & Nelson Riddle, and various vapor wave playlists on YouTube.
MY BIG BREAK: In 2003 I was playing at Chris Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia when [guitarist] Pat Martino heard me and asked for my number. He called the next week and asked if I could play later that month with his band in St Louis, MO. That started a six-month stint that took us all over the world. Around the same time, I started working with [trumpeter] Jeremy Pelt who I still work with to this day. It was a big break to join Jeremy’s band, because he was instrumental in my development as a sideman and touring musician. He also got me connected to people like Nicholas Payton, Wallace Rooney, and the label Maxjazz.
LATEST PROJECTS: I just released a new record called Lost Dispatch. It's basically a psychedelic exotica record. A bunch of analog synthesizers, percussion, and jungle sounds influenced by Exotica music and library music recordings from the 50s and 60s.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? Besides the piano, I pretty much go to the Fender Rhodes, Prophet-5, and ARP Odyssey. I’d throw the Farfisa and Solina in there too if there’s space. I love these keyboards because they vibrate and blend well with other instruments in a live setting. They’re also all inspiring to play. I find a lot of digital keyboards sound separated from the rest of the band. Sometimes that can be cool depending on the situation, like if it’s an all electronic group or maybe a synth heavy band. But in most situations, I find these keyboards are what make the cut.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I’ve got Lost Dispatch shows for the rest of the year, touring with Cass McCombs, the Fruit Bats, writing material for my other band, Kolumbo, and I’m getting married in October.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: I’m still young, so it feels weird to be giving anyone advice. Be humble, be respectful, be on time, and show up prepared. Trust your gut and don’t take yourself too seriously. Be cool and professional. Keep sketching ideas, don’t procrastinate, spend time thinking, and challenge yourself.
For more information visit www.franklocrasto.com