May 23, 2024

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Interview with Massimiliano Calderai: The merit of not going behind any fashion and not looking for virtuosity: Video

Jazz Interview with jazz pianist and composer Massimiliano Calderai. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Massimiliano Calderai: – I was born in Florence. When I was little, I listened to Ennio Morricone’s cassettes and liked them very much .Also other ..of course.After when i was a boy, i listened “Yes”, “Alan parson”, “Vangelis”,..

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

MC: – Then my father bought an old piano at an old furniture store, and since the keyboard had some keys yellowed by time, I started with one of these keys and found everything in my ear what I felt, mainly the TV theme songs. so my parents sent me to take the first private lessons.

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

MC: – Later I entered the conservatory and studied with the master Marco Vavolo who helped me a lot in my journey, both from the point of view of sound and technique. Thanks also to him I approached jazz studying the art tatum transcriptions, erroll garner, dave grusin, keith jarrett, and taking his first steps in the harmony and jazz arrangement.

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

MC: – I study various languages. I think it is important to practice on various styles such as the piano stride, the bebop, the Latin jazz, the wordl music, the irregular times, the swing .. For me it is important the daily exercise, of course, unfortunately not you can always practice as much as you would like !!

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

MC: – I try to use what I need. I’m sure I’m not going to look for dissonance at all costs but only if I consider it necessary. I prefer to focus on melody. I think it’s the best quality for European musicians. I also like research and taste. harmonic by Herbie Hancock, which I still consider the most interesting from this point of view, but my background as a classical pianist inevitably comes out.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

MC: – You can’t. The important thing is to make it a treasure and, if possible, develop a personal language.

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

MC: – They are two sides of the same coin. In the long run pure technicality leaves nothing … but even the soul alone and talent alone are not enough. Maybe I would say that if you have a lot of will and a great soul you can overcome some technical limitations with the stroke of genius . Monk, certainly not brilliant for technicality, but the notes he plays all have a sense, genius.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

MC: – A lot. The public that follows the concerts, in my opinion, is prepared but also needs to have reference points. Sometimes the jazz player only knows what he wants, but the message does not mean that he arrives. If he does not arrive then, he might as well play in a room alone, so he does what he likes.

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

MC: – August 6th 2016. It seems appropriate to remember a concert with my quintet from then “frame”. We played in a breathtaking place, on a rock (Carmignano) so high that the stars seemed practically around us. It was a unique sensation. Very uncomfortable to carry instruments but certainly suggestive for us and for the audience that listened to us.

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

MC: – In fact the standards are to be studied as in the pop the Beatles are to be studied or in the classical music Chopin or Bach, but gradually also the passages of Brad Mehldau become object of study.The Bebop must certainly be studied, as well as other periods, but today Jazz is a huge pot with several derivations. It will be time to decide. The same Herbie Hancock has titled his album “the new standards” ..

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

MC: – I believe that life is a path, but sometimes we forget the true meaning and probably also the priorities. The title “starlights” is not accidental, the stars are above us just look up and admire the sky, the universe and understand that we are only passing through, and that we should try to pay more attention to things that are really important like the world in which we live.

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

MC: – From the concert point of view I would like there to be more opportunities and fewer closed circles where they always play the same.

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

MC: – The new album by Stefano Bollani, Attica blues by Archie shepp, Chopin prelude num 16, The falcon fly again Brad Mehldau’s

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

MC: – You know in instrumental music and without a text, perception can also change from person to person, but the music I write I believe has the merit of not going behind any fashion and not looking for virtuosity for its own sake, regardless of the staff for which I write. I think the message is that you can write good music looking for the essential.

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

MC: – For a day in 1955, February 28 in the paramount studios while “artists and models” were running ..

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

MC: – Ok, what do you think of the road that jazz is going through?

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. Fine !!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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