I did a full Interview with Music Jazz in Italy will be published in full for the October issue but since I'm performing at the Blue Note Milano Sept 13 they published a short version of it online.
I have to admit Alceste Ayroldi asked some deep questions..This is a preview
The American composer, pianist and keyboardist, already alongside Miles Davis, will play on September 13 at the Blue Note in Milan with David Gilmore, Reggie Washington and Patrick Dorcéan. Below is an excerpt from the interview that will be published soon in the magazine
When fusion was born. What was your approach to fusion music and how much has it changed over time?
At the time there were all kinds of fusion music... I think it all depends on what your vision of fusion was and who you followed. If you followed a band like Return to Forever, then you really liked the virtuosity of the musicians and the way they dealt with very complex parts. If you followed the Weather Reports it was something else entirely, because it depended on the compositions, the grooves and the atmosphere created by the electric keyboards and more. If you look at groups like the Crusaders, you notice in them a more soulful blend, while Pat Metheny's group was a combination of many things. But one thing they all had, the ability to blend styles together to create cohesive music, with great melodies that attracted audiences. I don't see all this anymore. There are many exceptional musicians, but they don't bring the compositions into areas that have a lasting effect like those bands back then. I think that some of these artists and musicians need to go back to the basics, that is, to create great material, not to create material that showcases the virtuosity of the musician. That's what you get when you have a great material to work on.
How much did the collaboration with Miles Davis affect his evolution as a musician?
I think it was the fundamental moment in my life as a musician, and all that goes with it. Learn to live the life of a musician and also understand the responsibility I had in proceeding. His ideas were very forward-thinking, but he needed people to understand what he was trying to do and where he was trying to get to. Bill Evans, Teo Macero, Gil Evans were all there before us. At that moment, I am very happy to be able to say that it was Marcus and I who figured out how to take him to that place. Attending him and listening to his philosophy, about music, about life, about people and everything related to it, helped me create the atmosphere that I am. It helped me find my creative self. For me it's about figuring out how to find yourself and understand your strengths and what you bring to the situation, and then make them grow.”
Speaking of collaborations, if we look at his list of successes, it's mind-boggling! Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross, George Benson, Michael Jackson and many others. I believe the collaboration with Vandross was the most significant. Are there others that have affected you the most?
Sting, David Sanborn, Chaka Khan, Ivan Lins, Michael Brecker and many more. I believe that all the artists I have worked with over the past few decades have helped them grow into the future. And vice versa. With all the people you mentioned there was definitely a collaboration, but it's a different kind of collaboration. I feel that all the albums I've made and have always made over the years have all been special to me. I try to give a special character to all the music and all the artists I've been involved with. I believe this is one of the reasons I am still here. I hope to continue to do this with new artists that maybe I can help move forward or with established artists looking for something new that not everyone can have. There is too much common, banal music around.
Soon you will be in Italy, at the Blue Note in Milan. What will be the repertoire and what are the members of the band?
The repertoire is a celebration of my fifty years of activity in the world of music and an exploration of my catalog of favorite songs to perform. Unfortunately I have a lot of songs that I would like to perform and that I can't do in one or two sets, so I hope in the next few years to be able to distribute them along with the new music that I will introduce. I hope in the future to have different incarnations of groups that can play the music, such as my Celebrating the Music of Weather Report Project. The only thing I ask is to be surrounded by great musicians who play well together on this tour. We will have Reggie Washington on bass, David Gilmore on guitar and Patrick Dorcean on drums. This will be a little different for me, because for the first time I won't bring a saxophonist. I want to see how I personally respond to the idea of having a great rhythm section that plays behind me and supports the band. This will give me more freedom to express myself more with keyboards.
What are your future plans?
The future plans are to enjoy this wonderful country, the one we live in now. Meeting great people, which we are doing and which we like. Traveling around Europe and, hopefully, playing in some of the places on my wish list that I have yet to visit and where I have to perform. In my archives I also have 45 years of recorded music that has never been published and that slowly, but surely, I will publish in the coming years. We have just released the first album and, of course, the most important thing is to stay healthy in order to achieve the rest of our goals in this life. Then, I want to visit the Amalfi Coast! (Laughs, N.d.R.) Alceste Ayroldi