June 14, 2024


Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Phill Fest: The soul-spiritual side is the most important element: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if guitarist Phill Fest. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Phill Fest: – I grew up in a musical family. My father was Bossa Nova piano pioneer, Manfredo Fest, and mother composer Lili Galiteri Fest. Upon their migration to the USA I was born. Music went on all day at our house. We lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Chicago with frequent trips to Brazil. It was inevitable that I would follow in the footsteps.

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

PF: – Brazilian rhythms, particularly Samba, fascinated me ever since I can remember. I got into guitar through my love for Rock-n-Roll, which I still enjoy, and gradually shifted to Jazz oriented idioms…particularly Bossa and Samba-Jazz. My style is a direct result of playing, listening and practicing for the last 35 years. I study my idols in a more Zen-like fashion…meaning I take the essence, but don’t try to copy.

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

PF: – I divide my time between fingerstyle nylon string and electric guitar(usually with a pic) as evidenced on all of my recordings. It is like playing 2 different instruments that require totally different approaches, thus practice routines. I have not studied with anyone since my formative years back in the 80s, so for better or worse, I have developed my own quirky way of playing and practicing. Right hand rhythm work requires stamina, and nothing beats hours of playing when time permits.

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

PF: – Since Iam also a working guitarist(Shows, Musicals, Solo, Contemporary music) I make deliberate efforts to keep my recorded body of work legit within the fabric of Brazilian essence, yet putting just enough of my American side in.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

PF: – All depends on the variables…indoor or outdoor, how many hours, travel involved, etc.

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

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

PF: – For me the soul-spiritual side is THE most important element. I don’t have a music degree, though Ive studied legit music Classical-Jazz Theory) my entire career on my own and performed in virtually every situation, imaginable, around the world. Obviously any type of Jazz requires a certain amount of intellect, but Iam not going to throw in some crazy line or extra changes, as I often hear, just to impress fellow players. Again…I want to take the listener on a journey.

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

PF: – To a certain degree you have to, but that being said people are intuitively drawn into honest deliveries.

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

PF: – Too many to mention, but recording my fathers Concord Jazz album Fascinating Rhythm, with trumpeter Claudio Roditi telling me I sounded like Romero Lubambo, sure my my day!

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

PF: – That is the magic question. Probably no one solution, but my version to the answer is put out your compositions mixed with a couple of classics done your way.

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

PF: – I believe in higher being with the benefits manifesting best with proper intent. I only want what I deserve. If someone else gets what I wanted, as a result of harder effort, than it is not mine by divine right. I believe we all need to be the versions of ourselves.

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

PF: – Very tough to answer, but I wish there would be a premium put on quality than access of quantity … especially pertaining to extreme images. Rather tough in todays social media environment when its all about likes, clicks and shares.

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

PF: – I listen to lots of the things.

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

PF: – One of happiness, hope and wonder.

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

PF: – That would be a toss up between late 50s Rio and NYC.

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

PF: – First off I loved your questions and I really only skimmed the top of each due to space and time available. I guess I would ask you what got you into this.

JBN: – Jazz is my life!!! And in your humble opinion it’s not worth it?

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

PHILL FEST discography (top albums) and reviews

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