Interview with Jazz guitarist Francesco Bruno. 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?
Francesco Bruno: – I was born in Rome in Italy and I started playing when I was twelve, pushed by friends who loved the Beatles and wanted to form a group like many kids of the time did. The guitar and music immediately entered my life in a strong way and in the mid-70s it became a profession.
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JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
FB: – The experience gained over the years has taught me that sound is fundamentally linked to one’s hands, a musician with a great personality is recognizable even when he doesn’t use his own set up. In this perspective, I have always used few effects, both in the past for my electric projects and today in an acoustic jazz dimension.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
FB: – I practice daily for many hours. A part of the study is closely linked to the maintenance and development of the technique and is always done using a metronome, another part is instead connected to the research of the jazz lexicon and consists of playing not only on my compositions but also on jazz standards. It is also very important for me to listen to other musicians, not only guitarists, to enrich my “database” of jazz language.
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so, why?
FB: – I believe that every musician is constantly moving on, trying to improve. I consider myself an eternal student and if I look back, I obviously see a strong change in my way of making music today where a minimalist dimension attracts me more…
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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
FB: – The intellect is following the soul, our emotional and sensory perceptions. I could say that the music itself would be just a noise if it weren’t organized in a space -time. Music is made by sounds organized by our intellect in a space -time!
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
FB: – Music must be the free expression of our soul, but since it’s passing through a language, I believe that this must always be understandable. The levels of perception of the listener are obviously different, and related to a degree of specific knowledge, but a fundamental prerequisite for me has always been communication with the audience.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
FB: – The new generations feel very far from jazz as it is perceived as something old and difficult to understand, this is due to many factors. On the one hand the media bombardment which pushes them in general to consider any type of cultural study useless, showing them the success received by under-cultured characters. On the other hand, the inability of many jazz musicians to go beyond the emulation of the greats of the past or experimentation for its own sake. We should all try to overcome these difficult barriers.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
FB: – I fully share this thought of the great Coltrane, as previously mentioned, music is our soul organized by the intellect in a space-time.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
FB: – I wish everyone could always have the opportunity to express his own art and be appreciated or not by the audience outside the conditioning of the music business.
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JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
FB: – I listen to many great young performers but it’s more and more difficult to find some new fascinating musical projects such as those from the past. This is a big problem from my point of view.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
FB: – Maybe I’d like to take a trip to the years of the great fathers of jazz to understand how innovative their music could be and treasure it going back to today!
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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton