Interview with John Di Martino: … into your soul, all the other facets are ignited as well! Video

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Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer John Di Martino. An interview by email in writing. 

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

John Di Martino: – My brother James, who is nine years older than I, is a fan of theater music, classical music, and some pop music, this sparked my interest and exposed me to a lot of music early in my life. Is was actually Frank Zappa’s ‘Hot Rats’ LP that inspired me to start studying music when I was 12 years old.

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

JDM: – I feel that I have been influenced by everything I have ever heard, especially music I listened to in my formative years. I think my sound is a combination of those influences and my personality as it manifests through music.

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

JDM: – At this point in my life, I find that working on music that I will perform, as well as arranging and composing has become my practice routines.

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

JDM: – As Bill Evan’s said, ( I am paraphrasing ) one should listen to as much music as possible, your talent will select what is needed to accomplish your musical will.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

JDM: – I pray to “surrender to the ecstasy of making music”, if I can feel that joy, then I can also transfer that joy to the audience!

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

JDM: – I think if you tune into your ‘soul’, all the other facets are ignited as well!

Lennie Tristano said to me ( in an archaic be-bop slang ): “play from your soul and not from your wig!”

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

JDM: – Tristano also said to me: “if you are a musician, you are an entertainer”. I feel we must be aware of that reality.

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

JDM: – I remember my first European tour with Ray Barretto. I was subbing for the pianist, Hector Martignon. I was pulled on the gig at the last minute because Hector had a problem getting his visa. I had no rehearsal, only a talk down on the flight to Paris with the bass player Jairo Moreno who sketched out some charts for me.

My first time playing with the band was on stage at The New Mourning Club in Paris. Ray had no idea who I was or what to expect, but after the gig, he thanked me for the energy he felt I brought to the music. A year later when the former pianist left the band, Ray asked me to join the band.

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

JDM: – Standard tunes can always be re-invented and they are well worth studying because they are a foundation for songwriting and composition. Though they are earlier roots such as the music of Chopin.

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

JDM: – Spirit is the most important aspect. You can do everything correctly and it may seem like you are only going through the motions. It’s the feeling that counts in the end.

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

JDM: – I love all music and I am open and listening to everything I can.

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

JDM: – Love and the unity of all peoples!

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

JDM: – I have a fascination with the 1960s.

In the decade of the 60s, there were so many developments and a revolution in all facets of life.

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

JDM: – I try to keep moving onward and upward!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Five Questions with John di Martino – maryxo

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