May 27, 2024

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Interview with Nick Biello: Essentially, “soul” needs to be tempered by “intellect” but … Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Nick Biello. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Nick Biello: – I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. My father was a professional musician, and I would listen to him practice every day, hear him rehearse with other musicians, and generally got exposed to so much music throughout my childhood.

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?

NB: – I started on piano at the age of 4 at my father’s direction. When it came time to choose a band instrument in elementary school, I already knew that I wanted to play the saxophone after hearing recordings of Charlie Parker; so it was an easy decision. I was always very inspired by my dad, and also by one of my first teachers, Bob Straka, who today is an accomplished music director at a very large band program in Texas.

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

NB: – My sound is something that I’m always working on. I marvel at my contemporaries that have always seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of their sound. For me, it’s been a constant evolution. I’ve found that over time, my sound has developed to complement my ideas.  Practicing long tones, playing ballads, and listening to great saxophonists have all helped improve my sound. I got hip to the Joe Allard school of saxophone playing, who Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and a host of other great players studied with. In my opinion, Mr. Allard’s approach allows for the most flexible, full saxophone sound. It’s the methodology that I impart to my own students as well.

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

NB: – I’ve always been a compulsive practicer. It terms of rhythmic studies, I’ve found that melodic rhythms, such as practicing odd groupings of 5’s and 7’s has helped stretch my rhythmic sensibilities. I also shed along with Drum Genius, which is a great app that includes lots of drum accompaniments to jam along to, so I can make sure that my feel is where it needs to be. But in general, I almost always practice with a metronome. I think it’s important to practice playing over a variety of tempos, because certain tempos are tricky to groove to. 210-240 bpm, for example… maybe a bit fast for double-time, but it feels a tad slow for eighth notes and it wants to creep up towards 250 bpm.

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

NB: – I’m drawn to the mysticism of chromaticism, and am working on refining my language pertaining to those sensibilities. Using a chromatic language over conventional harmonies is proving to be an effective vehicle for expression for me; I’m able to follow my ear and find resolution points that channel my ideas back to consonance.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <Vagabond Soul>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

NB: – I’m very proud of my debut release, Vagabond Soul. I would say that I’m most satisfied with the compositional efforts on the record. The main focus for me was storytelling through my compositions.

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

NB: – There are so many great new records out there that I’m hesitant to answer this question out of fear of forgetting anyone! But I’m happy to promote my friends’ works, because I truly believe that they represent some of the most talented up-and-coming musicians. Paul Jones “Clean”, Jimmy O’Connell “Arrhythmia” are two that come to mind. I was also really hit by “Signs Live!” by Peter Bernstein.

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

NB: – This is a great question and it’s something that I ask myself all the time. In my opinion, one can’t survive without the other. In a perfect situation, it would be like a happy marriage. Essentially, “soul” needs to be tempered by “intellect,” but without “soul”, “intellect” disconnects the music from reaching a visceral, human place. Intellect belongs in the practice room, and soul on the bandstand.

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

NB: – One of my best memories was during my college years performing with Slide Hampton’s big band. I was playing baritone saxophone, and after the gig Mr. Hampton said to me, “Young man, with a name like yours, you’ll going to be very successful.” I got a real kick out of that.

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?

NB: – One thing that I have realized is that besides practicing a lot, writing a lot, and generally trying to improve as a musician, being a great person is of the utmost importance. I would tell students to just be cool to others, treat people with respect, and don’t resort to pettiness. People will start to want to be around you simply because of your positive vibe. It’s hard enough to be successful in this biz… if you’re a bad hang, it’s almost impossible.

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

NB: – I can only speak for myself, but I truly believe jazz can be a business, but each musician needs to realize that he/she is a CEO of their own brand. Seek out opportunities, promote yourself, and don’t limit yourself to playing “jazz” – there are so many great musicians that have projects that blur the lines of genre. Just focus on making music!

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

NB: – The collaborative efforts that have always meant the most to me are the ones shared with good friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with many great musicians, but nothing is as rewarding as connecting and creating music with people that I love.

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

NB: – First off, there are some amazing contemporaries bands that reflect the sound of modernity. Gretchen Parlato, Bad Plus, Seamus Blake, Miguel Zenon, Brad Meldhau – all of these masters are creating music that is rooted in the sound of our time. So, in my opinion, the problem isn’t that the material itself is dated – the issue is that jazz is not taught in schools and cultural institutions in the U.S. Jazz is virtually hidden from the public’s ear, for reasons too numerous to get into. But I disagree with the postulation that the Great American Songbook would prevent younger listeners from identifying with jazz.

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

NB: – John Coltrane was the embodiment of everything that serious musicians aspire to be. His passion and devotion to his craft was unparalleled. For me, the older I get, the deeper I fall in love with music. It continuously affects my spirit in more profound ways. I’m at the point in my life where music seems to be as vital to me as the air that I breathe. The more I learn, the more I discover that I need to learn and this endless chase for truth is the journey in and out of itself. It becomes an identity; a reason for existence.

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

NB: – Lots of things bring me anxiety, unfortunately. Being a musician is by no means a secure career. But I suppose that just about everybody in this world worries about money, stability, and security, and at the very least, I know that I’m doing something that I truly love.

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

NB: – How about more appreciation for artists? We don’t need much – just a smile, something to tell us that all of the hard work we’ve put into our craft at the expense of so much has brought others joy. Oh, and a little more bread never hurt anyone either 😉

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

NB: – I’ve been writing a lot for a wonderful saxophone quartet that I am a part of. The SNAP Quartet (Sam Dillon, Andrew Gould, Paul Jones and myself) Lately I’ve been composing using electronic instruments, synthesizers, etc. I’m planning on a European tour sometime in the near future and several festivals in the U.S.

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

NB: – Yes! Absolutely! Folk music and jazz have commonalities. They are both storytelling vehicles, both allow great personal expression and individual freedoms, and both are rooted in the sentiments of the collective consciousness.

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

NB: – I have been listening to a lot of classical music lately. Mozart string quartets, Brahms clarinet quintets, Bach keyboard music. Also, Clifford Jordan has been my “new” guy that I’m checking out. And I’m studying the music of Lee Konitz on “Sub-Conscious-Lee.”

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

NB: – I play on Selmer saxophones and use D’addario Select Jazz reeds. For alto, I use an old Brilhart Tonalin, on soprano I use a François-Louis, on tenor a D’addario Select Jazz hard rubber piece, and on bari I play on an old Otto Link Slant Sig that’s way too big for me, but I huff and puff through it anyway. I also use Silverstein Ligatures.

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

NB: – To hear Charlie Parker play in person. And then I’d follow him around and listen to him play every night.

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

NB: – Thank you for asking! Who are your favorite musicians/albums? And do you feel that jazz is still continuing to evolve meaningfully?

JBN.S: –  Thank you for answers. Мany, many … Yes, of course. 

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Nick Biello


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