May 23, 2024

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Interview with Paolo Recchia: I would change the way meritocracy is applied

Interview with Jazz alto saxophonist Paolo Recchia. 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?

Paolo Recchia: – My adventure with music started when I was 10 years old. I was born in a small town called Fondi, located halfway between Rome and Naples. I heard the first musical instruments played live thanks to my father. He played in the town band. He didn’t make music professionally, but his passion was great and I remember him practising every afternoon. Furthermore, He often took me along when the band had weekly rehearsals.

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I remember the sense of community, the desire to be together and to share the passion for music, it was all so simple and natural. He played the clarinet and also had an alto sax. I started playing the clarinet because the band needed clarinets, but after a few months I chose to play the saxophone: that was the sound that fascinated me. I have happy memories of my beginnings with music! When it came to studying and playing with friends for me it was like a child going into a toy store. You can imagine!! At the age of 12, I started studying classical saxophone at the Conservatory of Music. Along with studying, I also started working with music; I have had experiences with local musicians. I discovered jazz when I was 14. I was at a friend’s house and he took a recording of Charlie Parker from his father’s closet. I took it home with me and at the first listening I was totally shocked: I didn’t know and didn’t understand what he was playing but I liked that music, he moved me. I’ve never heard a saxophone play like this before. Very early on, in conjunction with my classical studies, I started taking my first jazz lessons and after a few years I decided that music would be part of my life.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

PR: – Studying the great masters is the ABC for practicing jazz music, and this was fundamental for me. It allowed me to study, imitate, store as much information as possible. Listen to new music and last but not least play a lot. Surely also the musical collaborations I’ve had over the years have also influenced my sound. Music is an infinite territory of sounds in which you must keep searching to make your sound evolve. And to do this you must always have a great curiosity.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

PR: – As for the rhythm, two are my guidelines: the rhythmic precision and the plurality of ideas, always in the company of the metronome. Let me give you an example: if I’m listening to Coltrane or Mehldau I transcribe a sentence and try to assimilate it first as an original version and then practice it by looking for different rhythmic combinations. The goal is to try not to repeat myself but to vary ideas without forgetting the fundamental ingredients: swing and musicality. The same applies to harmony and this opens the way to another important aspect: composition. I try to be always in the music and not just stop on the instrumental aspect.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

PR: – Music is matter that relates directly to our feeling, it is pure emotional intention. Music “tells us” about emotions without naming them, it makes us perceive inner landscapes without the need for eyes: so, when we talk about feelings, we can only talk about Music; it can be said that they are made of the same vibrating matter, and it is normal that it is so.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

PR: – I totally agree. There isn’t a concert where there isn’t an emotional exchange between artists and audience: and it’s fantastic.

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

PR: – I think you have to start by giving input, with something that you’re curious about. Today’s jazz can affect young people’s sensitivity. Young people must be given something that is close to them, to their world, to their interests, to the time they are living. Jazz festival billboards have an increasingly diverse mix of music proposals. There are no written rules, you can start anywhere. The important thing is to generate the curiosity that is the engine of everything.

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

PR: – I would change the way meritocracy is applied. There are so many “actors” and truths often struggle to emerge. Also, I would change the way music is treated in schools. Small steps forward have been made but I have the feeling that it is considered a “B” series discipline..

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

PR: – Lately I have been enthusiastic about African drums and listening to the Yoruba music from Nigerian people. Then jazz, classical and everything that strikes me from the first listening. I am always looking for new stimuli.

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

PR: – Yes, a lot. What are your musical tastes?

JBN: – Classic, Jazz, Blues, Soul, Rock and you are just an ostrich!

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Interview by Simon Sarg

Paolo Recchia presenta "Imaginary Place" all'Alexanderplatz

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