"When we have watched a good performance, we feel that some buttons have been pressed inside us as an audience"
Gabriele Pezzoli on elculture.gr
"The main musical features of our trio are the broad soundscapes, the attention to the melody and the chiaroscuro harmonies"
Text by Danai Kotsaki
The Jazz musician and professor, Gabriele Pezzoli, is coming with his band to Greece in a few days, for two concerts, in the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival and the 13th Preveza Jazz Festival. He is an artist who loves improvisations and experimentation and that’s why he mixes elements of classic, jazz, pop, even electronic music in his songs, creating unique sounds. Gabriele Pezzoli Trio has already produced three albums the last of which, “Viljandi”, has just come out. The Trio has given live concerts across Europe and has also collaborated with well-known artists such as Olivier Ker Ourio, Tino Tracanna, Nils Wogram, Domenic Landolf and Reto Suhner.
ελculture: When and how did you decide to form Gabriele Pezzoli Triο and how would you describe your sound to a fresh listener?
Gabriele Pezzoli: The trio was formed in the early ‘90s when I was a student in Lausanne, in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Although there have been some changes in the band’s line-up, the main musical features have remained constant: broad soundscapes, attention to the melody and chiaroscuro harmonies. All this, while maintaining a balance between original compositions and improvisation, the cohesion of the ensemble and individual expression. In our music, we try to blend classic elements of the “piano trio” (with particular reference to Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Bobo Stenson) with classic contemporary styles and even a hint of rock…
ελc: How would you describe the Jazz music scene in Switzerland?
G.B.: There is a lot going on in Switzerland, both in more traditional circles and among the avant-garde scene, which has often played a leading role on the international level. There is also an emergent scene blending Jazz, pop, electronic music and many more styles in an intelligent and, at times, quite funny way! After several years of crisis, we seem to be slowly regaining some stability, with live performing opportunities and demand from clubs and festivals.
ελc: Given the fact that your music is available on Spotify and iTunes, do you think that the future of music is online?
G.B.: When it comes to formats and distribution channels, everything is decided by giant companies of the music industry, which fight among themselves to grab and impose new technological standards. It’s all about market principles, while musicians and consumers rarely have their say. There are some undeniable plus points of online distribution: in particular, it is a wonderful thing to be available and to find music from anywhere in the world. However, there are some issues, for instance regarding the circulation of pirated music and copyright management. A lot of surprises may be just around the corner: some people even talk about vinyl making a come-back… We shall see!
ελc: Besides being a jazz performer, you are also a music professor. What would you advise young people who would like to pursue a career in Jazz music?
2L8: I live and teach in a peaceful region surrounded by mountains, in the South of Switzerland. Here, I always recommend that those who can take the opportunity to travel and improve their skills with teachers in other parts of the country or abroad. More generally – even if giving advice is always difficult – I suggest taking full advantage of spring boards for students and young musicians, such as competitions, workshops, jam sessions and youth festivals. These can be excellent opportunities to meet people and perhaps even open some doors. I don’t have a recipe for success, but I do believe that keeping the right focus on your projects, never neglecting quality and pursuing your goals with passion and determination can be very useful. And, of course, a little bit of luck never hurts…
ελc: Your new CD “Viljandi”, came out a few days ago, how would you characterize your current work?
G.B.: I think that this production offers certain continuity yet also marks a moment of great change. Compared to the Trio’s previous releases (“Improvviso” in 2006 and “Rendez-vous” in 2009), the personnel has, in fact, been revamped. In this “new trio”, I play together with the Estonian double bass player Taavo Remmel and the Swiss-American drummer Brian Quinn, two musicians whose musical and human qualities have contributed immensely to the evolution of the group.
ελc: You will be in Greece soon, how do you feel about participating in Jazz Festivals both in Athens and Preveza cities?
G.B.: All three of us are excited about it! Personally, I must admit that I don’t know enough about Greece, with its mesmerizing, thousand year-old culture and breathtaking nature. This will be my chance to explore it a little, perhaps when I have time off. From a musical perspective, it is an extraordinary opportunity to be able to participate to the Athens and Preveza festivals, and we are very grateful to all those who have helped to make this possible!
ελc: Are you acquainted with the Jazz music scene of Greece, are there any Greek jazz musicians that you would like to perform with?
G.B.: I must admit that I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream Jazz, apart from the great classics of the past, so there are certainly many important musicians who I unfortunately don’t know. From a broader perspective, I do know the work of Vasilīs Tsapropoulos, including his improvisations, especially through his releases on ECM. I have also had the opportunity to listen to some interesting work by clarinetist, composer and experimental musician Floros Floridis. Among the younger generations, I know the vocalist Magda Giannikou thanks to her collaboration with the super group Snarky Puppy. Recently, I have discovered the beautiful music of Tania Giannouli: I think she’s a very impressive pianist, an artist who has a lot to say, both in the field of electronic (Emotone) and acoustic music (Tania Giannouli Ensemble). Alexandros Botinis, the brilliant cellist in her Ensemble, would also certainly be an extremely interesting musician to work with!
Info: Gabriele Pezzoli Trio’s concert in the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival is on Saturday 6 June and in the 13th Preveza Jazz Festival, on Sunday 7 June.