June 13, 2024


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Interview with Gianni Vancini: What happens in life will show up in your music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Gianni Vancini. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Gianni Vancini: – I grew up in Mirandola (MO), a little town in the north of Italy. I first got interested in music at the age of 5, because of my dad. He is a pianist and music was always around the house..

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

GV: – The reason why I picked up the saxophone was kind of weird.. As I told you my dad is a pianist, so piano was my first instrument. I started to take piano lessons at that age (5/6 years old) and because I was so young it was all about “having fun”.. Along the way I started to learn about different styles and later on I was introduced to some little improvisation concept. I was 14 years old and until that time I had never took it too seriously even if my biggest dream was to study at the conservatory, so I finally decided to go for my biggest dream! Long story short.. During my entry examination I was asked about if I could play any instrument (and which) and my reply was: “Of course I can play piano!”.. so I started to demonstrate my pop/soul abilities to the commission.. The problem was this: I had no idea that the only style in the conservatory was classical music and that the course was 10 (plus 2) years long! At that point my reaction was: “Do you have any other instrument?” 😉 I pickup up the saxophone only because it sounded MODERN to me..

I was extremely blessed to find a great teacher and friend now with whom I was able to build a real passion and love for this great instrument. Along the way I had another great teacher (and friend too!), Mr. Eric Marienthal. I don’t think I have enough words to explain how much he means to me.

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

GV: – We all start as students with one (or more) hero. In my case Eric M. was the one, so I spent years to try to “capture” his sound and style. The thing we don’t know (as students) is that in the meanwhile you also develop your own sound and style as well!

My routine now is totally different.. having to deal with touring, teaching and family you find that you would need days of 48 yours to get it done! So it’s really important that when you find your two hours of practice you really know what to go for.. In my case “less is more” and “sound” are my main today’s goal!

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

GV: – I have several warm-up exercise that I collected along the years and that I found really helpful even if I have a very small time to practice. Most of them are including long tones and chromatic patterns. Always play slow and with the metronome, this is the best way to get fast.

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

GV: – As I said before, I’m really on the “less is more” page now. So everything that I hear with few strong notes or even a super strong “one note pattern”, that’s the way to go for me. Of course it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about harmony anymore, on the contrary! You might know as much as possible to able able to “mute” the changes in your playing.. It’s an hard concept to explain, but the music you create is composed both by the notes you are playing and your SILENCES…

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



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

GV: – For sure they are very connected. If I can mention the Maceo Parker thing… in my case I play 2% intellect and 98% soul! It’s like “learn as much as you can, then when it is time to play.. FORGET IT!” 😉

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

GV: – One for all … My first recording session in LA. The personnel: Ricky Lawson (drums), Alex Al (bass), Sheldon reynolds (guitar), Greg Manning (keys)… all in the same room ready to record the title track GET YOUR GROOVE ON. I was suppose to play a “sax pilot”, but what happened in that room still remain kind of a mystery.. We were playing all together in one room, just like in the golden days and we just clicked. We tried the song once to read the charts and what you hear in the record is the second (or first official) take! I’m so proud of that.. the day was 12/12/12.

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?

GV: – Never stop following your goals and dreams.. Sometimes it will be tough, but never stop! Think that your “A train” is coming at some point, you just don’t know when,  you have to always be ready, it could happen tomorrow!

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

GV: – Yes, it could be. But I think most now that ever, the secret to be successful is to team with other musicians and to help each other..

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

GV: – Every experience that I had has been important for one or more reasons, I would way playing with great sax players such as Eric Marienthal, Dave Koz, Gerald Albright (just to mention a few) really gave me the “real flavor” of how a great saxophone player should play (and stay on stage) like.

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

GV: – A great way would be to take the old versions and give them a modern twist. If you think about it is what the jazz guys did in the past taking maybe spirituals or folk songs and turned into a jazz standard…

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

GV: – Exactly … you can’t separate music and spirit, what happens in life will show up in your music. Your experiences in life really affected the way you play and you see MUSIC, and viceversa.

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

GV: – I have great plans for the future and I really hope I will be able to bring all them to life! Staying healthy is my main plan.. 🙂

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

GV: – I would love to see labels to really do what they would be supposed to do. To take the risks to produce good music, no matter if it’s “trendy” or not! There is a great Frank Zappa interview on the web that I would suggest.. watch and listen carefully!

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

GV: – To create something to combine my two main backgrounds which are classical and contemporary jazz music.

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

GV: – Yes of course. As I mentioned before, lots of folk songs has become great jazz standards! I also love this great connection, I did it with some great italian songs and one is in my latest cd, it’s called “Ma cos’hai messo nel caffè”.

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

GV: – In this particular moment I’m really into Michael Petrucciani music.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

GV: – I play Cannonball Saxes. On the alto I use Custom Beechler Bellite with Légère Signature Reeds, same setup on Tenor and on soprano I use a Theo Wanne Gaia with Légère reeds as well.

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

GV: – The 70’s!!!!!

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

GV: – Of course, Simon, what do you look at when you listen to an artist for the first time?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I look at the future …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Gianni Vancini

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