May 23, 2024

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Interview with Charlie Apicella: I see in the music economy right now: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Charlie Apicella. An interview by email in writing.

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

Charlie Apicella: – I’m from upstate New York and have been living in New York City for the past 10 years. When I was around 15 years old I discovered my dad’s vinyl record collection and was immediately attracted to Jimi Hendrix, BB King, and Grant Green.

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

CHA: – I have only ever been interested in straightahead jazz. I never learned or performed any rock tunes. Because I had access to local jam sessions it was easy for me to find opportunities to practice jazz standards and play with older musicians.

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

CHA: – I have learned through private study with two of the greatest living guitarist, Dave Stryker and Pat Martino. Over time I have developed my own highly efficient method of study which I now teach on my True Fire Channel, Charlie Apicella’s Solid Guitar…

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?

CHA: – I have been working on my chord vocabulary now for the past two years and trying to open up new sounds in my chords. This is something I talk about in great detail on Solid Guitar. In terms of my soloing ideas I find myself practicing rudiments such as arpeggios and triads for the past few months. These are building blocks I sort of neglected several years ago in favor of learning the jazz vocabulary through transcribing solos so now is a good time for me to go back and solidify my knowledge of those topics.

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

CHA: – I don’t try to prevent anything from happening, I just tried to go with the flow so my consciousness is unburdened.

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

CHA: – I don’t think about this stuff. It’s obvious music is the universal language that connects with peoples’ souls. I’m bored with people talking about this stuff.

I’m interested in reading about history, both the history of American music as well as such things as African-American history, art history, etc.

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

CHA: – Absolutely, I love being able to connect with any audience which is why the band works four nights a week at least.

I’m lucky that the music I like to play is interesting to people. That’s just what I like to listen to and I try to make every performance and every CD we produce exactly the type of product I would want to listen to.

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

CHA: – Living in New York is of offers a constant opportunity to experience great live music and also play at some of the best venues in the world such as Blue Note, Mezzrow, outdoor festivals, etc.

In terms of performing with master musicians, the high points for me have been my work with the legendary Sonny Fortune who appeared on our fifth record, One Night Only. I also did a concert with bass master Dave Holland. Our first CD featured the world’s greatest jazz violinist, John Blake Jr who was a wonderful friend and mentor.

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

CHA: – The future of jazz is stronger now than it probably ever was because of all of the education opportunities available for students of all ages. Everything from school programs, summer workshops, and online resources like TrueFire.

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

CHA: – I don’t think about this stuff.

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

CHA: – I have no complaints, I’m happy with everything I see in the music economy right now. The future is bright as long as musicians view themselves as private business owners.

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

CHA: – The person I am most interested in right now is Vic Juris. Of course, I am always cycling on my turntable folks like Julie London, Gene Ammons, and Lonnie Johnson.

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

CHA: – I don’t really spend time thinking about that.

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

CHA: – I think now is the best time ever to have lived for the greatest amount of people in general. If I were to be a fly on the wall and observe anything in history for a day it would probably be ancient Rome.

In terms of music, if I were to be a part of the audience for a concert performance  it would be Woodstock or BB King live at the Regal in Chicago or maybe the Count Basie band featuring Billie Holiday.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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