May 28, 2024

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Interview with Giuseppe Mazzamuto: The only balance between intellect and soul is to be honest, to be yourself: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if vibraphonist Giuseppe Mazzamuto. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Giuseppe Mazzamuto: – I grew up in Palermo iInterview with Giuseppe Mazzamuto: The only balance between intellect and soul is to be honest, to be yourself: Videon Sicily, where I became interested in music thanks to my father, too. He played the electric bass and since I was a child, I have listened to all kinds of music, from jazz to classical music and to pop music. At home we used to listen from Duke Ellington to Beethoven, from Bob Marley to Bruce Sprinsteen, from Modern Jazz Quartet to Pino Daniele, an Italian pop singer.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the vibraphone, marimba, and loop station? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the vibraphone, marimba, and loop station?

GM: – About the vibraphone it is my fist true-love: I didn’t choose the vibraphone, but it chose me. I fell in love with the vibraphone thanks to Milt Jackson. I also love the marimba, but the vibraphone is my voice. The Loop station is part of my evolution as a musician, opening to electronic music.

My first teacher was Giuseppe Cataldo. I completed my university studies with him at the Conservatory Vincenzo Bellini in Palermo. he taught me to be a professional musician. In the Jazz area it was Enzo Randisi, who is not only a famous Sicilian vibraphonist but also my inspiration in jazz vibraphone. However, the teacher who helped me improve my level of playing is Gary Burton. I was his student in Jazz improvisation course at the Berklee College of music. He acknowledged my talent, writing a presentation letter for me.

In my new album called Melodyterranean I play the vibraphone, marimba and loop station; in its first track called “Good Feel” I play the body percussion, too. I could say that every instrument, which I have chosen to play -including body percussion- is my way of telling a story.

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

GM: – Since the first day I started playing, the acoustic sound has been everything for me. The searching of the perfect sound is a continuous work for every musician who plays an acoustic instrument. For a vibraphonist like me, this research goes mainly from the choice of sticks and then to develop my sound I try not to use force this is an oriental concept.

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

GM: – To keep my current musical ability up I usually warm up six hours a day. It’s my opinion that the best way to improve it – especially the quality of rhythm – is recording yourself while playing. Only in this way you can listen to yourself and recognize the faults – like looking at yourself in the mirror- so that you can improve your skills.

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

GM: – Harmony is a world to explore. Today my focus is on voicing. Although I always continue to study harmonic analysis in a lot of songs and scores for orchestra, I always prefer the harmonic patterns of Jazz Blues.


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

GM: – I think that the best albums of 2017 are Cécile McLorin Salvant “Dreams and Daggers” and Phronesis “The Behemoth”. These albums are amazing!

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

GM: – It’s sincerity. The only balance between intellect and soul is to be honest, to be yourself.

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

GM: – I could tell you a lot about this topic, because in the past I collaborated with several international artists. However, among my best memories there are my concert with Sting as vibraphonist and marimbist, the jam concert with Mike Stern, a lot of collaborations as percussionist with choreographers like David Parsons and Carolyn Carlson. Obviously, all these experiences have made me grow as an artist.

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?

GM: – My advice is to be yourself. Don’t try to imitate anyone because each of us is unique. Being unique will give you one chance to succeed in the music business. Never stop in front of difficulties, too. Stay positive.

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

GM: – Not yet today, I think we should attract the crowd, we should open our music to them through the fusion of kind of music. Often the Jazz is a music for musicians and connoisseurs, and not for a large crowd.

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

GM: – Playing with Sting taught me the concept of timing in pop jazz. Playing the sixth symphony of Beethoven with Carlo Maria Giulini taught me to love classical music and the concept of sound timbre and its complexity. Thanks to playing with Mike Stern I learnt the concept of Jazz improvisation, while opening the concert of the Buena Vista Social Club taught me how music can be a source of vitality.

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

GM: – Whenever I talk to young people, I like starting from what they usually listen to, trying to find some similarities between Jazz and those music genres, which teenagers like downloading nowadays. For example, to explain what jazz improvisation is, I enjoy starting from the concept of improvisation in freestyle rap. So, I usually compare their favorite pop music songs with the standard jazz structures. Then we can go back in the past, mentioning some jazzmen or milestone jazz bands. At the end we are used to listen to some standard jazz songs all together. It’s very interesting.

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

GM: – Thanks, it’s a really good question! I agree with Coltrane. I believe that spirit is life and creativity. The only thing that makes us unique and special is our creativity. I believe that life is a great opportunity and the meaning of life is to love and artist loves through his music and his creativity.

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

GM: – In the future I hope to continue to compose my music and share it with a larger and larger audience. I’d like to continue to dream because dreamers have changed the world. Bring me fear of losing the people I love. I’ve already lost my father and it’s been a sad time in my life.

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

GM: – I’d like there will be more opportunities for artists, a musical world with the same rules of Jazz: equality, sharing, respect for all, and marginalization.

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

GM: – I think the next musical frontier is self-production with crow funding. There will be a lot start ups in the music with dedicated apps.

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

GM: – I think so, my last Jazz album called Melodyterranean has many influences of world music. The similarities between Jazz world music and Jazz music is usually the improvisation, while with folk music the structures of the songs.

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

GM: – What do I listen to? My album Melodyterranean of course. I’m joking! I’m listening to “A Humdrum Star” by GoGo Penguin for Blue Note Records is a very interesting album.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

GM: – My setup is vibraphone, Marimba and Korg Wavedrum.

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

GM: – I would like to go back to the United States of America in 1952, when the Modern Jazz Quartet was founded and to meet Milt Jackson. Even today I believe he is the greatest Jazz vibraphonist in the history of bebop, cool jazz and third stream.

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

GM: – What do you think about my new album called Melodyterranean? And since we Italians always think about good food … what do you think about Italian food?

Dear Simon, thank you for your questions! It has been my best interview! Best Regards, Giuseppe Mazzamuto;

JBN.S: – Thanks so much for answers. I have your CD: <Melodyterranean>: I like spaghetti and pizza from Italian food.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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