Interview with Pietro Gallo: Music is instinct, passion, something that comes from within the soul: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz pianist Pietro Gallo. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Pietro Gallo: – I owe everything to my mother, it was through her that I first listened to piano music and began studying it; I grew up in a very small town in South Italy where the possibilities of musical and artistical growth are very limited, but in spite of this, with great difficulties I managed to grow my passion.

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

PG: – A big help for me in the research of my sound has been listening to the greatest pianists; I have a classical background due to my studies but listening to different sounds from different artists has helped me a lot to form my present sound. However, my research of the perfect sound is still evolving.

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

PG: – My daily exercises starts first by listening to music: study by listening! I strongly believe in this, it’s one of the most important things for a musician; then, like most of my colleagues, I do warm-ups and technique exercises with rhythmic scale, arpeggi and patter. Later I focus on the harmonic part of my instrument by trying to search and experience different sounds.

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

PG: – Since I was a child I always tried to copy the melodies that I listened to or that played in my head, giving them a new rhythm and a new life. This still happen  today, I follow my instinct in everything I play. It is through my emotions that I try to reinvent and rewrite my music.

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

PG: – I still remember perfectly how I felt before my first performances: excitement, great expectation and a lot of fear. The truth is that those feelings and emotions have never left me, and that’s what I play for.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2020: <Reimagining Opera>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

PG: – The thing I love most about this album is the combination of both parts of my musical soul, classical and jazz. Reimagining Opera was born a few years ago when my “Brother” Dario Doronzo and I understood that there was a link between our classical musical training and the endless passion for jazz. It was then that the spark was lit! We thought of creating a synergy between the two genres that kept classic rigor and the unpredictability of jazz. Then Reimagining Opera took shape and we had a great success with the audience and critics. We are now working on the second album that will be released in 2021.

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

PG: – I have never been good with words so for me the sound and musicality represent an intimate communication channel with my audience. I have always looked for the perfect sound, the sound that would represent me and my emotions to others best, but as you know, this is a hard and never ending task for a musician! My sound is constantly evolving and always will thanks to the many great artists I meet, especially Dario.

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

PG: – For me, music is instinct, passion, something that comes from within the soul. The intellect is what there must be there before and after a performance, when you study and in general in your musical life; when my hands touch the keys of the piano, my mind and my soul merge into a single thing, that becomes, in that moment, my only channel of expression and communication with the world.

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

PG: – The relationship with the audience is very important for us musicians. We could not live without the feedback and the energy that the audience gives us, which allows us to establish a new bond with them that renews with every concert. The audience that attends my concerts or listens to my music already know what they will experience!

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

PG: – The most exciting experience I had was at the concert at the Carnegie Hall in New York. Entering the historic theater, the center of the world when It comes to music, I won’t even try to make a list of the greatest artists who played there because my legs simply shake thinking about it! It was a tsunami of emotions. The feelings of anxiety and fear that I felt were very high before the concert but immediately after the first note everything magically became beautiful. The sound of the piano that embraced the sound of Dario’s flugelhorn and that exact sound that our instruments created allowed us to build a connection between us and the audience, to which we received a standing ovation from their appreciation.

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

PG: – I believe jazz is found today in many forms which is loved by young people. Obviously many people don’t appreciate it in its purest form as it was from the beginning of the 1900s onwards, but instead in its electronic and modern key. In fact, more often we see standard arrangements with new sound and modern styles. This brings young people close to jazz because they can listen to the original versions and love the genre.

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

PG: – Let me answer you with another quote from Coltrane:

“… Out of gratitude, I humbly asked (God) to be granted the means and the privilege of making others happy through music. I feel this has been granted to me by His grace. All praise to God. ”

I feel very close to these words, to the meaning that Coltrane gave to music, to life and to the relationship with God through faith.

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

PG: – I don’t think I would change anything in the musical world, you know? Because I consider all arts as the mirror of the soul and the culture of man; I prefer to focus on my work and on the positive things that this wonderful world has to offer, which are many.

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

PG: – As I said, every day I listen to lots of music and follow many musicians who contribute, with their original and innovative ideas, to the creation of new music. These musicians I follow are the perfect example of what I tried to explain before, they can bring the youngest close to this genre with their modernity and freshness. I also listen to classical music but I have to say that I am open to listen to various genres and artists, I listen to music that makes me feel good so I can make others feel good.

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

PG: – With my music I would like to leave people feeling happy, joyful and carefree. I would also encourage them to continue to follow their dreams. Many musicians face difficulties and discouraging times, but the endless passion for the music overcomes every obstacle and allows you to achieve your dreams. I would like to intrigue those who listen to this genre for the first time, with hopes to bring them close to the music and possibly to my instrument.

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

PG: – There is not only one time that I would like to visit, I would like to travel through time. Possibly go back with a DeLorean and become the inventor of many works, songs or musical styles, who wouldn’t want to do that? All joking aside, I would like to go back to meet two great musicians, precursors of the close relationship between classical music and jazz. Precisely in the late 19th Century France, to get to know two exceptional pianists and composers like Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

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

PG: – I would ask you the same question you asked me before: what would you change about the music?

JBN: – I would not allow the development of jazz rap …

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

PG: – I definitely have many goals and dreams that I would like to bring to fruition if God wants. I always live my life day by day and immersed in music, trying to discover and improve my limits, exceed them and look forwards with pride at what I do. I wish to continue to transmit passion and new feelings through my musical projects, staying with my feet firm on the ground and always trying to dream.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Duo Doronzo-Gallo – Reimagining Opera, quando il jazz reinventa l'opera (DiG CD) – Connessi all'Opera

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