May 24, 2024

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Interview with Matteo Di Leonardo: Music becomes the meaning of your life once it comes in: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Matteo Di Leonardo. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Matteo Di Leonardo: – I grew up in Teramo, a little town in Abruzzo, which is a beautiful green region in the center of Italy. My first approach with music has been accidental on one side, because I started playing just as a joke at the age of 13 years old, but inescapable on the other hand: my father was used to put a lot of vinyls and cd’s with good music (Pink Floyd, Genesis, Eagles, Pat Metheny, Steely Dan and many others..).

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

MDL: – My father sometimes was used to play some pop stuff (mostly italian like Lucio Battisti, Fabrizio De André), so I said to myself “let’s try!”. I started like this, strumming some chords one by one. Also, my interest in picking up the guitar was increased by the music that my dad put at home, so those rock guitars like David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, The Eagles and many others. On the other hand I started listening to Pat Metheny, even if I didn’t understand at all what kind of music was it, but it was too fashinating to ignore it. I have been fortunate enough to have a good musical education, which has started with my first guitar teacher Gianluca D’Angelo, in Teramo (my hometown), which has progressed with other fine guitar players like Roberto Di Virgilio, Michelangelo Piperno and Rocco Zifarelli. I’m highly grateful to them. They each helped me to find my own path, which has finally culminated with the decision to develop my musical pursuit in jazz music.

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

MDL: – Good question! It’s an endless research, to find your own sound, the voice that says the truth “right here, right now”. I’ve studied a lot on cd’s, playing on it and transcribing solos from the horns players, guitarists, piano players. I did it a lot with Coltrane, Parker, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery and many others. This has helped me a lot to start having a personal voice to interpret standards and my compositions. It’s a long way.

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

MDL: – I always work with the metronome. I love making sessions in duo, expecially with a doublebass player, a singer, or a horn player. It helps me a lot to stay focused on timing, more than the notes in a certain sense. I often read written solos from the jazz masters, it’s the best way to improve its own improvisation skills.

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

MDL: – I’ve always been fascinated somehow by the modal harmonies, and consequently attracted by the music of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson (just to mention a few) which gave me an important startpoint for the conception of my own compositions.

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

MDL: – An album that surprises me has bene Caipi, from Kurt Rosenwinkel. If I wouldn’t have known that it was his album I would have had some troubles recognising him! His playing is unique, of course, but the music he composed for this album was unexpected, somehow. But it’s amazing!

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

MDL: – It’s a very delicate balance. The study and practice of musical expressivity helps you to have a large vocabulary, but then each one should be able to separate what creates emotion in us from what passes unnoticed.

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

MDL: – I will never forget the studio session with the fine guitar player Philip Catherine, for some final adjustments of my album “Sketches”. I already followed him listening to his albums, in his recordings with Chet Baker, Stephan Grappelli and in his own works. When my productor Hans Kusters proposed me to ask him playing in my album I thought he was joking, but the day after Philip himself called me! We’ve met and played together several times before the recording. In studio I was a bit nervous, but convinced that it was a right direction to take, that he would have added some amazing colours to my work. I learnt a lot from him, I’ll be always grateful for such a great experience.

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?

MDL: – Composing! Believe in your ideas and take them forward, constantly.

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

MDL: – I think I could answer to this question in case it will become or not a business for me! At the moment I’m in a phase of the investment. Business, if deserved, will arrive later. I highly believe in hard work, taking forward his own ideas (as I said previously) with constance. I think you can make business with jazz, but keeping a high level of quality of course.

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

MDL: – The one with Philip Catherine, as special guest of my “Sketches”, has been definitely the most important and relevant experience for me recently. But I try to learn every day playing with many good musicians in Brussels, between the several jam sessions and concerts downtown.

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

MDL: – True, but some melodies are timeless, and they sound modern even if they’re 100 years old. It’s nice also listening to some contemporary jazz players which interpret old standards in a more modern way, it could be of inspiration.

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

MDL: – Music becomes the meaning of your life once it comes in. Somehow, I always associate the episodes of my life to music, I translate those episodes in notes. I think about it quite always : while I have a walk, while I cook. Music says always the truth.

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

MDL: – My biggest expectation is to live making music, of course, but it’s not easy. Nowadays the musical reality is more competitive than in the past. I highly believe that you can achieve your goals if you’re talented and you work hard, but I’m even more convinced that you can achieve the best if you offer an interesting product to your audience.

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

MDL: – To be a musician sometimes is a “handyman” job. Especially at the beginning of your career you have to be musician, promoter, manager and all other activities of organisation related to music. I hope somehow that in the future also young and emerging musicians could have the occasion to collaborate with other professionals, in an accessible way, to facilitate all the other activities collateral to music.

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

MDL: – The use of electronic devices is more and more important, like pedals, synthesizers, pads etc.. an intelligent use of those instruments can help a lot to enrich the sounds of an instrument. Of course without forgetting that the main source of the sound comes from the hand, and so therefore from your head and your heart.

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

MDL: – I think that nowadays jazz includes several influences as world music, or folk. It was already like this in the 70’s, when rock music was starting to have an important role. Listen for example to “Bitches brew” (1970), or “Tutu” (1986) from Miles Davis. It wouldn’t be useful for the music to not accept influences from other styles.

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

MDL: – Recently I started listening to a very interesting guitar player called Jakob Bro, from Denimark. He is an ECM artist, I love his sound. On the same way I never stop listening to saxophone players like Mark Turner and Chris Potter, which give me always some new fresh ideas for the improvisation.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

MDL: – I usually play with a Gibson Les Paul and a 175 Gibson, with Dv Mark amplifiers (Galileo combo and Little Jazz combo). I’m starting using also some effect pedals, in order to have a wider variety of sounds. In particular, I use an overdrive called “Cornucopia”, producted by the Italian boutique industry “Tefi Vintage lab”, of which I am endorser. This pedal gives me a relevant boost for my solos, but without loosing the real dynamic between fingers and strings.

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

MDL: – New York, between 1950 and 1970. One of the most prolific moments for jazz, and for the music in general.

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

MDL: – A question for the audience: What do you expect from a jazz concert?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I always expect live music …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Matteo Di Leonardo

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