February 26, 2024

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Interview with Lou Grassi: Music has the ability to improve everyone’s life: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Lou Grassi. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Lou Grassi: – I grew up in north eastern New Jersey. It seems I was always interested in music, especially drums.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the drums? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the drums?

LG: – I think the drums choose me. Some teachers I owe a debt to are Richie Moore, Tony Inzalaco, Beaver Harris, Nick Cerrato and Marshal Brown.

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

LG: – My sound evolved by playing and by gravitating towards the sound the I’m attracted to.

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

LG: – I do a lot of the applications of Ted Reed’s Syncopation book and George Stone’s “Stick Control.” I think many of these applications can be attributed to Alan Dawson.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

LG: – No preference. Anything that sounds good and inspires improvisors to create.

JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you this 2017 year?

LG: – I don’t know.

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

LG: – Too many to begin to get into here. Maybe if we hang sometime …

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

LG: – Believe in yourself . Don’t worry about “fitting in.” Be true to yourself and trust the music to take you where you should go.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

LG: – It is a business. A very challenging and difficult one, but with great rewards (not always financial) for those who make the commitment and persevere.

JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?

LG: – Everyone is important. Every chance to play with good musicians is a chance to learn something new about yourself and grow. Opportunities to play or interact with masters can have a special impact. Some of those I’ve been blessed to have shared music with include Sheila Jordan, John Tchicai, Marshall Allen, Roswell Rudd, Joseph Jarman, Jimmy Garrison. There are also several choreographers I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with who expanded my musical horizons. These include Richard Bull, Bill T. Jones, Lois Welk and Arnie Zane.

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

LG: – Many wonderful musicians are doing great things with some of the contemporary pop tunes. Original compositions are also a major part of the jazz repetoire. I love standards, but we can certainly have have jazz without relying solely on them. On the other hand, the music of Bach is hundreds of years old and still much played and much loved, so 50 years is nothing.

Young people need to hear this music from an early age and experience it as fun.

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

LG: – I don’t claim to understand the meaning of life, but I do believe that music has the ability to improve everyone’s life.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

LG: – I have no expectations. I hope to stay well and healthy for as long as possible and keep developing as a musician and as a human being.

I fear for the future of the planet and humanity in these difficult times when many people in power are so filled with greed and lacking in compassion.

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

LG: – Financial support for artists and opportunities to present original music.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

LG: – I have no idea. I see when I get there.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

LG: – Yes, of course. Jazz has always drawn on all cultural influences and is filled with influences and references to other musical idioms.

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

LG: – A pretty wide variety of music, jazz and other.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

LG: – A basic 4 piece drumset. Vintage Sonor drums: 18” bass drum, 8×12 tom and 14×14 floor tom. I have several snare drums. Currently I’m using a Gretsch wooden snare 5 1/2×14. My cymbals are mostly vintage K Zildjians and i often use a variety of small percussion instruments.

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

LG: – Here and now is just fine with me.

JBN.S: – So far, I ask, please your question to me …

LG: – Where do you live? How did you get interested in jazz? Are you a musician?

JBN.S: – Thanks very much for answers. I live in Boston and Armenia. I am jazz critic, don’t musican. I interested in jazz since 2003.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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