Jazz interview with jazz pianist Vasco Pimentel. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?
Vasco Pimentel: – I grew up in Lisboa, Portugal. My father is a piano technician and tuner, my mother is a music teacher so music has always been a part of my life. I began my first piano lessons at the age of 4 and then at the age of 10 I started my classical piano studies at Instituto Gregoriano de Lisboa where I completed the eighth grade with my piano teacher Martin Gerhardt.
My parents have always brought me to see music concerts since I was little. I remember going a lot to Hot Clube de Portugal, the most famous jazz club in Portugal, listening to jazz even though I didn’t really understand that kind of music like I do today but I have always loved it.
I never saw myself being a classical pianist so at 14 I entered my first jazz workshop in Lisbon and I immediately fell in love with this kind of music. I have always loved to improvise in the piano and learning jazz seemed perfect to me. Then I started the jazz piano course at Escola de Jazz Luiz Villas-Boas and at the age of 17, I think, I realized that I really wanted to make a living as a musician. And here I am now with my first album “Walkabout” released.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
VP: – What helped me the most to find and develop my own sound was improvising and composing. Basically experimenting new sounds and new musical paths, always with an open mind and trying to be creative. Also playing with other musicians and learning from them and listen to all kinds of music.
I feel that knowing myself as a person and musician also helped me finding my own sound, in my case trying to be more and more confident.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
VP: – These days I find myself practicing polyrhythms, hand independence and learning new tunes by ear. I also use my voice and sing in rhythmic and harmonic exercises, it helps me to better internalize them.
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?
VP: – I feel more and more confident, musically speaking, and that makes me a better, and always improving, performer.
JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
VP: – I try to practice more, sleep better, eat better, doing exercise, try to be in the best shape that I can for those moments.
JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: Vasco Pimentel Trio – Walkabout, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
VP: – I am very happy with my album “Walkabout” and what I love the most about it is the music, overall sound and how well recorded it is. It was recorded in Lisbon by André Tavares and then mastered by August Wangrenn and Peter Beckman. I also love the images in the covers, taken by the wonderful photographer Pauliana Valente Pimentel. I also want to say that my favorite song is “Preso por um fio”. I think I said too many things.
CD Cover: by Pauliana Valente Pimentel New CD – 2022 – Buy from here
JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?
VP: – Diogo (drums) and Rodrigo (upright bass) have all the qualities that were needed to play this music: a rich sense of rhythm and a great musical sensibility and creativity. We started playing together at Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa where we were studying jazz. We almost immediately connected, musically speaking, and now we are very close friends.
JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
VP: – I think maybe 90% soul and 10% intellect. It also depends on the context in which music is played or heard.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
VP: – As we play improvised music, we always try to feel the ambience of the room and the people in it. At that moment the audience is, in a way, part of the music, they are there with us, breathing, listening and feeling things. And we feel that energy that ends up influencing what we are playing. We are all connected.
JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?
VP: – I always remember one gig that this trio did at Hot Clube de Portugal. I think it was in a song of mine called “Homenagem” (not in the album), when Diogo starts the drum solo on top of a bass and piano ostinato and there are two people talking loud right behind him. Let me just say that this is a small club and the audience is really, really close to the stage, usually everyone in silence. But this couple was talking a bit too loud right behind Diogo, during his amazing drum solo. So the music is heading towards a climax, Diogo is on fire with his drum skills, all the sudden he stops on the beat, he turns back and looks at the couple with a face saying “shut up!!”, he even says something to them I think, and then he does an amazing drum break and everyone is clapping! I think that video is actually on YouTube. It was a great moment!
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
VP: – I think by having more jazz workshops, or jazz summer camps for kids, more jazz schools for kids.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
VP: – I don’t really think that much about it, I mean, music gives meaning to my life but… maybe when I am as wise as Coltrane I can talk more about this ahah.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
VP: – The return of the CD!! People buying CD’s! Ahaha
JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
VP: – Tigran Hamasyan, Brad Mehldau, Maro, Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
VP: – I think I just try to bring happiness to everyone.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
VP: – From the top of my head I really want to go to Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert! He is my musical inspiration.
JBN: – So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…
VP: – How am I doing so far?
JBN: – I think that fine! 🙂
JBN: – At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?
VP: – I want to bring my music to as many people as possible. Thank you so much.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan