Jazz interview with jazz vocalist Giorgio Pinardi. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?
Giorgio Pinardi: – When I improvise I never know where I’m going. Not exactly, at least. I work a lot on patterns and how they influence my improvisation skills and directions. The most difficult aim of my work is to let behind music knowledge and specific paths, to allow my deep inner music express itself freely.
JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?
GP: – The real problem is that music majors are in dire straits. We all know it and the most relevant effect of this situation is that there is less and less interest in taking risks, producing something really personal, creative and new. The only way to fight this trend is to ignore this business logics and work on originality and personality. It’s very important to have something to say and not every skilled musician has a message to share.
JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?
GP: – It’s important to work on roles and ego. The most lasting bands or ensembles in the music business are the ones who accept to take roles while working on a project, bringing their perspective on music (even if different, as often happens) and delegate. Less money in the business pushes bands to cover almost all roles but it’s very hard for them not to be mashed by all side aspects of the business (ex. management, papers, marketing, etc.). As to ego, I believe that every musician needs someone that can challenge and enrich an original idea, without taking for unique and special something untested and closed to a single musical vision. I can say that working in studio with musician and arranger Paolo Novelli (Panidea Studios) gave me a lot, in this respect.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
GP: – This is the most difficult part of my work. Improvising often brings to follow already existing melodies or harmonic solutions, in an irrational way, so that the most challenging part of my project (even in concerts, where everything is improvised and unwritten) is to unhook brain to set it free to elaborate my inner music, held in the non-rational part of my mind. Involving body is often a good way to facilitate the process and to get the right stimulation on a subconscious level.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
GP: – I consider intellect as important as soul, but also opposite to it. You can’t have soul alone but if your music flows only from rationality, it will eventually sound cold and unexpressive. Merging both sides is the best way to create something authentic and innovative. We grow up following for many reasons one side more than the other: a goal in life is to work on the weaker part to get a good balance.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
GP: – I think it’s impossible to be creative giving people what they want. I believe that if you’re trying to break the rules with something new it can’t reach people if it blends to statistical expectations or music trends. We really need to pass over these principles if we want to help music to be important for as many people as possible, and not just a passive backing noise. If a musician has a mission, is to help people (re)discovering music, in my opinion.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
GP: – Considering how complicated studio production is, the greatest compliment I received after live gigs is the feeling that good music has been created in few minutes from the silence, just improvising. I love all the time spent in studio to select hours of recordings, track by track, to find good ideas and inspiration, but reaching audience and sharing emotion in a immediate live situation it’s something huge and exciting. It’s me versus myself, after all.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
GP: – I think the only way to get this interest alive is to find with curiosity how standard tunes can be innovated and creatively turned into personal arrangements, with something interesting in them. Rock bands call them covers, jazz musicians call them standards: they can both be boring and useless as innovative and stimulating, it’s up to each and every listener to choose good or bad stuff. Anyway I think that from listening to a good cover, everyone would like to know more about the original piece.
JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?
GP: – My teaching role never put me in difficult writing music. I feel blessed having the opportunity to help people to use Voice as an expressive tool, to sing and develop musicality. Teaching is a good way to remind myself of how I need to reconsider my Voice every day, in every moment, and how much more I have to explore and learn about me and my skills.
JBN: – How important is it to you to have an original approach? Can you comment on the bridge between being a musician and being a composer?
GP: – I really respect who works hard on his/her skills to grow as a musician. I think that many musicians out there should work more on creativity as a process of turning music into something “active”. When you just offer yourself as a performer, you miss an important and more personal part of being into music. Composition is something able to lead you beyond rules and give more attention to the emotional side of music, allowing you to work on your inner feelings and intuitions. Having an original approach is nothing more than this: working on your own way to set your music free.
JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across? Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel?
GP: – I’m trying to speak an universal language, made of non-verbal sounds and timbres created to generate an emotive response in listeners. I’m just starting to explore this communication code, I’m sure this is just the beginning of something still unknown that will reveal the connection between people all over the world.
JBN: – What do you see for your extended future? You know what you have going on? You have life?If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
GP: – My priority is now to reach as many people as possible to let them know my music exists and is out there, ready to connect to everyone through my Voice. Also to explore more and more to find new ways to express and bring out feelings, memories, intuitions is fundamental to me. If I was in charge just for one thing to be changed, I think I’ll just implant in everybody’s mind the awareness that music is something really important and essential in life. And that can’t be ignored.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
GP: – I love listening to many different things. In these days I’m listening to Fear Factory’s “Mechanize”, Anuna “Cynara”, a Best of Stelvio Cipriani and many old recordings by Thelonius Monk.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
GP: – That we are all connected and able to communicate in an inner way but for some reasons we lost the awareness of it. That we can recover this skill if we manage to reach a balance between mind and emotions, leaving ego apart and starting to listen again.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
GP: – 1st November 1969, few days after Led Zeppelin II album release, a year after Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” release. And with a double ticket valid to see both artists live, after some of the best music ever realized, fresh for those days and not yet considered as classic or immortal. I would really love to see them trying to stand out in the music business, moving first steps in new music directions that will lead them to reach their highness, excited as kids with a new toy.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
GP: – Why people are scared by long interviews? I think with all these questions you allowed me to express a lot about myself and my music, it’s not always so easy to dig deep and sometimes I feel that musicians just fear to express authentically what they think. And connected to this I wonder If I will ever manage to connect to my inner music, with no compromise or limits.
JBN: – Thanks for answers. Those musicians who have no intelligence.
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
GP: – Thinking, feeling, living, creating, singing, playing, writing, smiling, releasing, crying, believing, tyring.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan