Blues interview with Blues guitarist, composer and arranger Nicola Mingo. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Nicola Mingo: – Well, I grow up in Naples (Italy) and I play guitar since I was a child (6 Year old in 1970) because my father and my mother played classical piano. Then, I’ve studied at Conservatory Classical music, but my passion was for Jazz, especially for Jazz traditional players, like Charlie Parker Dizzy Gillespie Clifford Brown and other Bebop players. So, I decided to study Jazz traditional language and especially guitarists like Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Grant Green, George Benson, Pat Martino and many others.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
NM: – Very good question! I think that is very important for a Jazz Player to search a “Own Voice” on the instrument, and this is a process that start early and gradually increase in the meantime you listen to the great jazz players, (not only Guitarist but all kind of Players), that influenced you and your style. Finally, a day, you find that “You are the solist” and even if there are many influences in your playing, you have reached your Stylistic Figure.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
NM: – Yes! since when I started to play guitar, I studied a lot of time when I was young and practice for many hours a day 6 or 8 hours! Now, actually, when I wake up the first thing that I make, is to play some standards like Charlie Parker tunes or great american song book tune and in this way I maintain my technique, playing every morning for one or two hours a day! For rhythmic phrasing, the better thing is to study slow, and gradually increase the tempo, with a metronome but the most important is playing along with a rhythm section, listen to the drummer and bass player, and giving your Swing to the Music!
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
NM: – I Think that we are influenced by other players or other musicians or other style and kind of music and this is a matter of fact, but if you believe in your project and are sure of what you are making of it, no must be a problem, because, your voice and Stylist Figure, comes out the same.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
NM: – The work begins almost three or four days before, near the date of the concert, because my experience on great Jazz Festivals and Club Performances taught me that is very important to prepare every things in the better way, and thinking about all the aspect regarding repertory, musical ideas, right concentration to give the Best, and right state of mind with other musicians to reach a good level of communication with the audiences. For this reasons after a Good performance you reach a very good state of mind and feel happy!
There could be talk or advertising about your CD
JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?
NM: – I am very proud of these musicians like Giorgio Rosciglione on Double Bass, Gegè Munari on Drums and Andrea Rea on Piano, because they interpreted in the best way my musical project and ideas! As regards my sound I always try to be Better, especially in the cleaning and clarity of my performances, this is a good aim and I think is a very important thing!
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
NM: – This is another good question! I think that the music comes from our soul, especially the improvisation, because it is an extemporary way to say and tell something! But the intellect guides the building process that leads your mind to produce your musical thought. So I think that is very important the building of a Solid structure in which you can exprime your thinking in a natural way. Not is always easy but I try to do it!
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
NM: – I am ok on the stage because I know what I want to transmit and give to my listener and this is the most important thing! When I play on stage I try to communicate with people and when I see them looking at the stage with interest, I feel very happy, because my music has reached the audience!
I make it in a simple way playing in my style and making what I can do better!
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
NM: – Sure, I started to play professional in 1985 when I was 22 years old and my career started with a lot of Jazz Festivals and Recording Sessions.
A lot of performance with Nicola Mingo Quartet in Jazz Clubs like Alexanderplatz Jazz Club Rome, Duc Lombards Paris, Blue Note Milano, Auditorium Parco della Musica Rome and Jazz Festivals Like Umbria Jazz, Villa Celimontana, Iseo Jazz, The Italian Way of Jazz of Red Records.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in Blues when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
NM: – Very good question! Ok I think that Good Music don’t have age because if when I was very young listening to Wes Montgomery Charlie Parker Dizzy Gillespie Clifford Brown John Coltrane, then I decided to became a professional Jazz player, now actually it is just the same things, because if you make to listen to the young people good music not only jazz but all the good music their ear get’s used to it to listen in a good way! I think the most important thing is to light the passion for good music and no problem if the music comes from a past century! Is good to listen all kind of GOOD MUSIC!
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
NM: – I agree with Coltrane because as I have previously said: “when we play we tell something of us and of our soul”; this is the Magic of the Music and it cannot be explained in a rational way, but the true meaning of our life is to communicate emotions with our Music to other people and this was the reason for that I choose to became a JAZZ PLAYER when I was very young.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
NM: – If I could I would change the low consideration of our society towards the choice of becoming a Professional Musician! It is an ancient problem that I had when I was very young and I think that a few more steps have been taken by our society especially towards Jazz musicians
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
NM: – In these days, cause of the stop to my Concerts LIVE due to the Pandemic World situation I have more time to study and so I am listening to All Clifford Brown’s musical records and I am finding a lot of inspiration for my Music!
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
NM: – I Think Music is My own voice and I try to communicate good things and good thought about Life especially in this difficult period for the All world. Music has the Power to reach the People through his message.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
NM: – Certainly in the 60s of the last century because I was born in 1963 and during that period Music had made GIANT STEPS because of the important musicians and important movement but during that period I was a child! It would be very interesting met Wes Montgomery or John Coltrane, Lee Morgan and all the BLUE NOTE Record musicians!!!
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
NM: – Yes, I am proud of your interview and it is very important for me. Ok, my question is: Why are you so passionate about Jazz and Blues Music?
JBN: – Jazz and Blues are my life!!!
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
NM: – Now is the Time as said the Great “Charlie Bird Parker” and in this period I communicated with my followers on Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, and try to improve my home video performance to communicated with my listeners. We don’t know until when, but even if my last live concert have been made on October 2020 I am Ready, hoping the pandemic situation became Better!
THANKS for your amazing interview and I wish ALL THE BEST for ALL OF YOU of JAZZBLUESNEWS Best regards!!!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan