Interview with Alessandro Cristeli: The soul leads us in communication with other people: Video

- in INTERVIEWS, VIDEOS

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Alessandro Cristeli. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Alessandro Cristeli: – I STARTED TO PLAY AT 6 YEARS OLD, AND AFTER ATTENDING A KEYBOARD COURSE AT A LOCAL MUSIC ACADEMY, MY PARENTS DECIDED TO ENROLL ME IN THE CONSERVATORY BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE AN ORGANIST! I LOVED THE CHURCH ORGAN AND J.S. BACH MUSIC. I WAS LUCKY TO LEARN THE BASIC HARMONIE, AS WELL AS CONTRAPPUNTO AND FUGA. AFTER FINISHING THE CONSERVATORY, I BEGAN TO LISTEN TO OTHER TYPES OF MUSIC (BLUES, JAZZ AND POPULAR MUSIC), AND SO, I STARTED TO STUDY JAZZ HARMONIE AND IMPROVISATION. I’VE BEEN TEACHING PIANO AND ORGAN FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS NOW. NOT ALL OF MY STUDENTS LOVE THE SAME MUSIC, THAT’S WHY I HAD TO LEARN DIFFERENT MUSIC LANGUAGES.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

AC: – MY TEACHER TOLD ME: ”EVERY MUSICIAN SHOULD PLAY WHAT HE LISTENS TO” AND I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN THESE WORDS. MY SOUND HAS CHANGED A LOT THROUGH THE YEARS, BECAUSE EVERY MUSIC GENRE REQUIRES A DEEP LISTENING ABILITY, STUDY AND PRACTICE. AFTER TWENTY YEARS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC, FOR EXAMPLE, I FELT THE NEED TO DEVELOP OTHER MUSIC LANGUAGES SUCH AS BLUES, JAZZ AND POP MUSIC AND THIS ATTITUDE BROUGHT ME TO SEE AND LEARN THE HARMONIE IN ANOTHER WAY, AND EVEN NOW I STILL CONTINUE TO SEARCH AND EXPERIMENT.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

AC: – UNFORTUNATELY I DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME NOW TO PRACTICE BUT I TRY EVERY DAY TO CARVE OUT SOME TIME FOR IT.  TRASCRIPTIONS AND LISTENING TO HOW OTHER MUSICIANS APPROACH TO THE HARMONIES IS CERTAINLY AN EXCELLENT EXERCISE FOR ME. CONCERNING RHYTHM, I OFTEN PRACTICE A “DRUM EXERCISE”, ESPECIALLY OSTINATO AND POLYRHYTHMIC, IN ORDER TO IMPROVE MY PERCEPTION OF TIME. EVEN IF I’M NOT A DRUMMER, SOME EXERCISES ARE VERY INTERESTING.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

AC: – I TRY TO MIX A LOT OF HARMONY OPTIONS: FOURTH CHORDS, UPPER STRUCTURE AND SO WHAT CHORDS. I LIKE HARMONIZING DIFFERENT THEMES WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHORDS, DEPENDING ON THE SONGS, AS I PERCEIVE WHERE MY HEART TAKES ME AND IF IT SOUNDS GOOD. IT IS ALWAYS A CONSCIOUS DECISION OF COURSE, TRYING NOT TO CREATE DISSONANCE IN THE SONG; EVEN WHEN I EXTEMPORIZE, I LIKE TO CAREFULLY CHOOSE ALL THE NOTES SO THAT MY LANGUAGE DOES NOT SOUND PARTICULARLY DISSONANT, AT LEAST IN THIS MOMENT.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

AC: – I BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT TO KEEP IN HIS OWN “MUSICAL BAGGAGE” AND WHAT IS NOT IMPORTANT INSTEAD. IT IS CERTAINLY DIFFICULT TO BECOME “DEMANDING LISTENERS”, BECAUSE IN MY OPINION IT REQUIRES A LOT OF STUDY AND EXPERIENCE. A GREAT MUSICIAN MUST BE A GREAT LISTENER FIRST OF ALL, AND I ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS WORDS TO MY STUDENTS BECAUSE NOWADAYS, DESPITE THE SPREAD OF A LARGE QUANTITY OF MUSIC ON THE INTERNET, THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO LISTEN AND JUDGE THE RIGHT MUSIC INSTEAD OF THE WRONG MUSIC AND THIS IS A PROBLEM.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2019: <Piano solo>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

AC: – IT’S THE FIRST TIME THAT I COMPOSE AND ARRANGE ONLY FOR MY PIANO AND IT HAS BEEN A STIMULATING WORK FOR ME.  I’M SATISFIED WITH ALL THE TRACKS, I BELIEVE THAT IT’S A GOOD WORK.

“PIANO SOLO” IS COMPOSED OF 6 COVERS AND 4 ORIGINAL PIECES OF MINE; THE COVERS ARE SOME POPULAR SONGS THAT I PARTICULARLY LOVE AND THAT I WANTED TO RE-ELABORATE IN PIANO SOLO IN ORDER TO CREATE AN INSTRUMENTAL VERSION OF THEM. ALL OF THE SONGS WANT TO BE A TRIBUTE TO GREAT COMPOSERS THAT I MET IN THE PAST YEARS, SUCH AS MICHEL PETRUCCIANI AND TOM JOBIM. MY COMPOSITIONS, ON THE OTHER HAND, MAINTAIN THE STANDARD JAZZ FORM.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

AC: – IN ALL THE LANGUAGES, NOT ONLY THE MUSIC IS IMPORTANT TO LEARN THE ALPHABET AND THE GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE, BUT ALSO THE SOUL, WHICH LEADS US IN THE COMMUNICATION WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

AC: – GIVING THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, IT SURELY CAN BE WINNING FOR AN ARTIST, BUT MY WORK “PIANO SOLO” WAS NOT CONCEIVED WITH THIS SPIRIT: I BELIEVE THAT EVERY ARTIST MUST EXPRESS HIMSELF AND INSTILL HIS ART INDEPENDENTLY FROM THE AUDIENCE.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

AC: – MY LAST PAST WORK: I RE-ARRANGED A SINFONIC ROCK OPERA OF THE ITALIAN PROGRESSIVE BAND BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO FOR ENSEMBLE (SAX, FLUTE, TRUMPET, TROMBONE, STRINGS, KEYBOARD AND DRUMS). IT’S A VERY INTERESTING COMPOSITION BECAUSE IT’S A MIX OF VARIOUS MUSIC STYLES: ROCK, PROGRESSIVE, JAZZ AND CLASSICAL MUSIC. MAYBE THE NEXT YEAR A CD WILL BE RECORDED. IT WOULD BE AMAZING!

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

AC: – JAZZ IS A DIFFERENT WAY TO SEE THE HARMONIE, AND I BELIEVE THAT MOST OF THE MUSIC COULD BE TRANSFORMED INTO A STANDARD. I’M THINKING ABOUT THE GREAT HERBIE HANCOCK’S ALBUM “THE NEW STANDARD”, WHERE POPULAR SONGS BECOME STANDARD JAZZ PIECES. JAZZ IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING LIKE ALL THE MUSIC STYLES, AND, IN ANY CASE, I BELIEVE THAT IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR A YOUNG MUSICIAN TO KNOW THE PAST MUSIC, TO LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

AC: – THE MUSIC THAT WE PLAY SHOWS US WHO WE ARE, OUR CHARACTER AND OUR EMOTIONS. THE MUSIC IS A PROCESS OF INNER GROWTH THAT CALLS US INTO QUESTION EVERY DAY, AND THAT REQUIRES HUMBLENESS, PATIENCE AND SACRIFICE.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

AC: – I DON’T KNOW IF THIS COULD CHANGE THE MUSIC WORLD, BUT IN ITALY IT WOULD BE GREAT IF THERE WAS MORE ATTENTION TO THE MUSIC AND MORE OPPORTUNITIES OF LIVE PERFORMANCES FOR THE MUSICIAN.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

AC: – I LISTEN TO MANY DIFFERENT STYLES, BUT THE LAST CD THAT I BOUGHT IS “IF YOU COULD READ IN MY MIND “ OF THE AMERICAN ORGANIST CAMERON CARPENTER. HE’S A GREAT MUSICIAN.

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

AC: – I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLAIN  HOW MANY POSSIBILITIES AND COLORS THE MUSIC CAN GIVE US TO EXPRESS OURSELVES AND HOW THIS IS A CONTINUOUS GROWTH PATH FOR EVERYBODY.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

AC: – THERE WOULD BE MANY PLACES WHERE I WOULD LIKE TO GO, BUT CERTAINLY I WOULD RETURN DURING THE YEARS WHERE JAZZ WAS BORN, IN ORDER TO RELIVE THE SPIRIT THEY USED TO PLAY, THE SPIRIT THAT MAYBE NOWADAYS IS NO MORE PRESENT IN MY COUNTRY.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

AC: – WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SONG IN MY “PIANO SOLO”?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. 🙂

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

AC: – I HOPE THAT PIANO SOLO COULD BE APPRECIATED AND BRING EMOTIONS TO ALL THE LISTENERS.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

 

Facebook Comments