Interview with Pietro Lazazzara: Music must touch the soul! Video

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Jazz interview with jazz gypsy guitarist Pietro Lazazzara. 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 Lazazzara: – First, I want to thank Simon Sargsyan and http://JazzBluesNews.com for proposing me this interview full of cues to better explain my music.

I was born and raised up in Southern Italy and exactly in a town called Laterza located in the region of Apulia. I began my musical studies when I was 12 and since then I have never stopped to play music. The reasons why I got so close to music are various, such as passion and curiosity. Immerging myself completely into music and discovering this magic world as an esecutor and not only as a simple listener were the spark that gave light and enlightened the way of my path.

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

PL: – I began my academic studies as a classical guitarist. My curiosity in music has brought me from the beginning to also know other musical genres as funk, jazz and flamenco until to gypsy jazz. My music and my sound are the synthesis of all those paths. The musical instrument is important to give birth to my sound, my guitar was built by the Italian luthier Marco La Manna, from Cremona, behind my personal instructions to best express my musical concepts.

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

PL: – My instrument is always handy. Luckily I am a teacher of classical guitar at public schools and my working and artistic day is constantly surrounded by musicians and music. Technique plays an important role for every musician and you should give it enough space. My life as a musician has always been full of challenges. The guitar, not a simple instrument, has the characteristic of having evolved extraordinarily over the centuries. A classical guitarist will hardly be able to fully exploit his/her studies to play electric guitars, flamenco or other genres that use techniques that are so far from those learned during his/her academic studies. My approach to manouche music is almost entirely random and is the result of my constant curiosity and desire to discover the new. The technique, the instruments used in the gypsy music have nothing to do with the path that I had faced before. I have learned so much from this new adventure: the use of the plectrum, of the specifical techniques of this genre, of the harmonies and especially of rhythm. As you can see when listening to the cd, there isn’t any percussion instrument and their role is entirely carried out by the rhythmical guitar and by the specific use of its techniques (La pompe).

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

PL: – The education of every musician is closely tied to what he has “chewed” under his/her fingers and in his/her mind and also to the variety of music he/she listened to. Music history, since its origins, has influenced the composers and the interpreters that have followed through the years and centuries. If innovation and experimentation did not start from “breaking” a system, they wouldn’t be what they are. Knowledge is everything!

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

PL: – Every time you go up on stage the adrenaline is on 1000!! The study that preceeds every performance is basilar for a technical/emotive control. Every live is unique and it is heavily determined from the empathy that is created between the audience and the musicians that accompany me at that moment.

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?

PL: – I have already partially revealed this answer in the previous ones. Through the years I have been studying and mastering different musical genres and learned different techniques, and this allowed me to create a personal style rich of the experiences. In my album we’re playing in three, I personally organized both the parts of the rhythmical guitar and the solo line, the bass was played by my best friend and excellent musician Antonio Solazzo that has always accompanied me in my musical path, along with being an important reference in my life. In the solo song “Relax” I asked the collaboration to my flasher operator colleague Emanuele Maggiore. As for my live exhibitions, I am accompanied by the rhythmical guitarist Giuseppe Magistro, along with the bass player Antonio Solazzo, and, on a few occasions, by the violinist Francesco Clemente.

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

PL: – Finding the balance between intellect and soul means to me not only to concentrate to the executive or technical rationality, but to put the technique at music’s service and especially at emotions. When I compose, my guiding star is the sensitivity that the  composition gives me in that moment; If my sensations are then shared by the person who listens to it, then I have accomplished my goal. Music must touch the soul!

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

PL: – Usually someone who comes to my concerts already knows the musical genre that he/she is going to listen to. I have never worried about creating a live according to the audience’s preferences. Surely in the preparation of a live exhibition the variety of the hits is fundamental and makes the show more interesting ; moreover, the improvisation makes every concert unique and unrepeatable. My hits range between the swing to the valse musettue, rumba, bossa etc. Until now the audience has always appreciated with enthusiasm and participation: this makes me satisfied with the choices I have made so far.

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

PL: – There isn’t a particular moment but the melting pot of so many moments. The most beautiful thing that music gives is the possibility of knowing lots of musicians. I have always wanted to share the stage and the emotions with friends/musicians. The magic that is created in the moment when you play together is what I love the most. The sessions in the studio are the moments that will mark, in a definitive way, your artistic work and that will reach the people. The tension is always high and the concentration is at its peak, and this represents the spiritual and artistic concretion that, in a certain way, marks your own life.

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

PL: – Assuming that the music of the past is fundamental for musicians and listeners of the future, my answer is in my album! My album is composed of 11 unpublished compositions and only 3 standard ones, in this way I have proposed to the listeners a new product that keeps the atmospheres of the past with modern sonorities.

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

PL: – I totally agree with what Coltrane said. It is not simple to explain what a musician feels during his/her performances or, even better, during the drafting of new compositions. It’s a perfect combination between emotions, mind and soul! I believe that each of us has a path to make in his/her own life, trying to improve day after day to give sense to his/her existence. On the musical field what enriches my life is giving space to my “emotions”, sharing them with the people and knowing that those sensations reach the heart of those who listen: It is a priceless result!

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

PL: – Surely I would change the vision the world has of artists and musicians. Let me explain: Sadly the “job” of the musician is not  fully recognized as a real job and mostly in this pandemic, all the critical issues of the artistic sector have emerged. In summary, my dream is that all the musicians are protected and supported in the same way as other workers.

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

PL: – I really listen to everything, Duke Ellington, Astor Piazzolla, Django Reinhardt, Trio Rosenberg, Paco De Lucia, H. V. Lobos, a lot of classical music and, mostly, classical guitarists as Andres Segovia, Roland Dyens, Julian Bream, Dusan Bogdanovic.

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

PL: – Passion must be the driving motor to face personal challenges and the comparison with the reality of the musical art. To support this journey, education is as important as passion, the technique, the mastery of the instrument and the harmonic knowledges that are the supporting structure for those who take up this career. I have always believed in the emotions and I have exploited my technical knowledge to be able to reach my goals. Stylistic and artistic references are important for your own education but, when you feel it, you should abandon yourself to your needs and share your own way to feel the music without being the copy of anyone. I express this concept in the hit “Rumba from Laerte”, that is dedicated to my country: “It is a heartfelt message to all the musicians to express their art: In every place music can be born”.

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

PL: – I would use the time machine to go back to the first half of the 20th century just to meet and see Django Reinhardt playing live, the artist that has influenced my musical path. It would be fantastic!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Pietro Lazazzara - YouTube

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