July 12, 2024

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Interview with Ada Rovatti: The hidden world of Piloo – Compassion and kindness: Video, new CD cover

Interview with Jazz saxophonist, arranger Ada Rovatti. 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?

Ada Rovatti: – I grew up in a small town by the name of Mortara, in North Italy.  it literally means: ‘graveyard of death’! My grandmother played piano and she is the one who introduced me to music at age of four. Unfortunately, we don’t really have music education at school and it’s hard to be exposed to music unless your family enrolls you in an after-school program. Only towards the end of high school I picked up the Saxophone out of curiosity and because my brother played guitar, and we listened to Blues and R&B.

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

AR: – I think writing my own music helped me to find also my own sound on the tenor. It’s a long-time process that I think it keeps developing.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so, why?

AR: – Yes, I think I changed a big deal. I believe there has been an inner ME always that dictated the whole process so I can hear myself also in the old me, but I feel and hope that I refined myself and evolved for the better, it’s a journey that it meant to change, like life and still is in the process.

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

AR: – They are 2 very different environments at least for me. The recording involves very meticulous long work hours in writing out the parts etc, and especially since I am a “control freak” LOL ~ I write out all the voicing parts, and my charts are really detailed especially on the heads and leaves the creativity to each musician’s ideas of ‘flowing’ on the solos. I like to do studio work at home because it allows me to be calmer and analyze the tunes in a better way without the performing anxiety disturbance. The live performance process is different and gets fed off the environment, and can really change from time to time… maybe that’s what is magical also abut live performances.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2024: Ada Rovatti – The Hidden World Of Piloo, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

AR: – I like the fact that I present myself to the audience in a different format. Piloo is my nickname given to me by my father. (It was the name of a mischievous little cat in a book I loved to read as a child and that nicknamed stayed with me all these years … and called my record label Piloo Records) .

Like many artists out there, the pandemic unleashed an amazing array of emotions and creativity definitely fed on those. My project was “a baby” of the pandemic. It exposed a more hidden and vulnerable part of me, and I decided to push my boundaries and explore whatever talent or art which was out of my comfort zone and see where it would take me. It is not the classical jazz recording where the improvisation is the focal point, but the main idea is showcasing other parts of my persona. From playing other saxes and flute, to arranging for strings, to writing lyrics and even controlling all  parts of the production, editing, LP/CD design, photoshoot, make up and even the clothes I’m wearing on the cover is my design and my own sewing.

I’m working daily on my music, from spending time with my instrument and keeping the writing going to sewing, cooking, arts and crafts to being a mother and wife and trying to be a decent human being…there is never a dull moment!

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

AR: – Originally the production was meant to be a collaboration between my label and a German label, and the great producer Joachim Becker in helping to put this amazing rhythm section together.  (Simon Oslender on Piano and Organ, Claus Fischer on Bass and Tim Dudek on drums- all spectacular musicians and humans). I knew all of them and played previously with them and I loved their musicianship, so it was a treat for me.). We decided to record the rhythm section in Bonn (Germany), and we added the strings and the guests later and I think that definitely turned the whole thing into a global production.

Eventually with issues  regarding the release date  and general decision making etc. I decided that probably it was better to own  the project completely, so I bought out the other entity so I could be the solely owner and it worked out great, but I have been so thankful to have used that specific rhythm section.

JBN: – What sort of feedback did you receive after it was released from musicians or your friends and family?

AR: – I think everyone was surprised about finding out I did all that, including my family who didn’t know I wrote lyrics… I think I surprised myself too  Everyone was really supportive and seemed to like it!

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

AR: – Oh my! there are so many. Regarding this last recording, it was the first recording session of my own material where I didn’t try any of the tunes out and didn’t rehearse any material, since the band was in Germany.

I was really scared that if there were problems it would have been hard to fix or change stuff around since it was pretty much orchestrated. I worked around the clock up to the night before the session to ensure that the parts were all ready to go. I sent out a couple months before everything and also the sequences so they could hear the tracks and have an idea.

Once we started recording and listening back, looking at the band’s expressions and my husband ‘s face I knew that something good was coming out. Big sigh of relief!!

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

AR: – Well, I think I need to work on my intellect in order to let my soul room freely.

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

AR: – Of course. We feed off each other’s. My ultimate goal is to become part of the soundtrack of their lives…I feel that would be like a step for immortality.

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

AR: – I think from teaching them the path and educating them. There is no time limit on true art. It’s the same appreciation of a nylon garment made in stock in China and a hand tailored suit in silk. You need to have an understanding of the differences and appreciation for the craftsmanship etc. quality etc. and recognize the meter of judgement.

When I listen to music, I’m looking for melody, groove, production, execution, interaction, solos, instrumentation…doesn’t have to have all of these things but some of modern popular music has none!!
I got into jazz from Rock, blues R&B into Fusion into Cool jazz Backward into Dixieland, and each one had its own reasoning and charm. I do listen to almost every kind of music and feel appreciation for all art forms.

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

AR: – When we play and perform it is like standing naked in front of an audience. You put out all your love,  your daily troubles, vulnerabilities and the good and the bad so yes, it’s like putting your spirit out there to be acknowledged and hopefully understood and appreciated.

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

AR: – Fair Pay. From the streaming to the concert hall. 99% of the artists out there are under-paid and treated unfairly.

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

AR: – I listen to everything I can. I don’t’ want to disconnect myself with what’s going on so I’ m trying to stay informed and see what’s happening outside of my musical world… not very much has impressed me but once in a while you hear something that is really good.

I listen from Pop to Classical. I found myself reverting back to Classical when I want to unwind. Jazz is very mental for me, and I get into  deep concentration mode when I hear most of Jazz Music.

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

AR: – I would like to see how was life in the ancient Egypt or find myself in a castle in Ireland in the middle ages or London in the Victorian Era …. the reality is that someone like me would have probably ended up killed or burned at the stake as a witch or lunatic…So it would be nice go for a second and check it out, but have the option to come back to the present at any given time !!

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

AR: – Compassion and kindness. Ultimately, we are all going in the same direction, we are all from different backgrounds and circumstances, some very privileged, some with every odds stacked against you. Acknowledging the disparity and bringing compassion and some joy through the music is my only hope and music is my only tool.

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

AR: – Yes. These are very cool questions and are very insightful. You can find my professional life online, but these questions bring a different layer out, so thank you for taking time to elaborate them.
Ok here is my question:  If you didn’t follow your music path, what would you be doing now?

My answer is: I would like to fix and renovate old stuff…from abandoned houses to furniture and give them a second chance…. or be an archeologist.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

AR: – Yes, I have done it multiples times but was for some reason and specific causes… but unfortunately these days too many people want to take advantage so I’m a little wary about it.

JBN: – Is there anything that we didn’t talk about that you’d like to discuss?

AR: – I think you did a splendid job finding out the ‘Hidden world Of Piloo”.

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Interview by Elléa Beauchêne

Ada Rovatti in Concert

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