lunedì 2 marzo 2015

Interview with Val Bonetti by Andrea Aguzzi

You have an impressive curriculum, you started playing when you were 11 years old, then you addressed on jazz and fingerpicking and you have not stopped since now, can you tell us a bit about your beginnings and how did you approach your guitar?

What impresses me is that twenty five years have passed since I took up the guitar and a dozen since at least I chose to do it as a job, and after so many adventures, disappointments, frustrations and some satisfaction I still have the same passion and curiosity; or perhaps having more awareness my passion increased also!
When I was a child I started studying piano and I would say reluctantly, I wanted to play sax, but I have an older cousin, a rocker which at the time made me listen to the guitar solos of various rock bands and told me: "Look here! What are you studying piano for?! " Now if I play the guitar is all his fault!
I remember my first classical guitar’s teacher, he gave me a VHS with a method by Jorma Kaukonen guitar fingerpicking and a book by Franco Morone, so I approached the acoustic guitar. I've always written music for guitar, but I kept it for me and I had parallel projects with electric guitar, I really played a lot of music and with several people. I studied Jazz in Milan at the civic school of jazz, meeting Franco Cerri and studying with him is one of the most beautiful experiences that I had in my life.

With what guitars do you play and did you play?

In Tales, the new album, I used an acoustic Collings OM2H, a National Resonator M2 and a classic Alhambra. In my previous record instead I used a Martin 00028 and a Bourgeois JOMC, but I have both sold them.

What were and are your main musical influences?

I listen mostly jazz and blues but in the past I have heard a lot of '70s and '90s rock,I have a particular fondness for what is played on acoustic therefore al lot of traditional music, ethnic, especially having a Bulgarian wife, for me Balkan music is a must. And then some African musicians, I love Mali’s music.

What is the meaning of improvisation in your music research? Shall we talk about improvisation in a so encoded repertoire as the classic one or we're forced to leave it and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc?

We know that improvisation was born many centuries before jazz and not all jazz music is improvised, I think it’is absolutely a cross genres practice, I think it is a choice that a musician makes. Also the different ways you can use, are quite subjective.
For me I like the idea of playing freely, always reserving spaces where I can let myself go, sometimes even just a simple interpretation of the theme. I think that playing in this way playing gains in freshness, perhaps at the expense of some imperfections, it does not matter, what interests me is to be honest and communicate something. And then there is the dialogue with the musicians while playing, the idea of creating something together, now at the moment, maybe on a stage, it is too charming.

Your technique is really excellent, how much is still important to have a good technique for a guitarist or a bassist? I ask it because I reminded of an anecdote: in the 70s Robert Fripp, heavily disputed by some punk who considered him a dinosaur, replied seraphic "who is a slave of the technique? Who has too much or who does not? "

I thank you, Fripp could not give a better answer and I add that what makes him so special are the sound, the unique style, in voicing and phrasing and his continues searching. Briefly, he is an artist who has played everything, punk is dinosaur’s stuff, Fripp is all right, he's back again now! Instrument’s technique I think is a means to express themselves better, then you should have something to say.
Ry Cooder has an excellent technique, but he never shows it and he always makes great music, there are people who insist on trying the difficult gesture, the stunt’s spectacular, the particular tuning only if that would be enough ... but in the end you close your eyes and you always listen to the same things.

I ask you a little bit provocative question about music in general, not just contemporary or avant-garde. Frank Zappa in his autobiography wrote: "If John Cage, for example would say" Now put a contact microphone on throat, then I drink carrot juice and this will be my composition ", then his gargling would qualify as a COMPOSITION, because he applied a frame, declaring it as such. "Take it or leave it, now I want this to be music." It's really good this statement to define a music’s genre, is it enough to say this is classical music, this is contemporary and so it's done? Does it still makes sense to talk about "genre"?

I have not read his autobiography, interesting Zappa talks about Cage, two great men.
But yes, everyone has his own language, however, we must present ourselves well, maybe a little tie and carrot juice .. I would not do it too much liquid, I would also put a few bits of carrot so that the microphone is able to capture the variations of the harmonic flow and then a helmet, knowing that if I would play it live people would stone my head but only because I do not really believe in it, eh!
I think there's a music that we can easily categorize, other that is more complicated to place it into genres and subgenres, and give it a name, I prefer the second one.

I have sometimes the feeling that in our time music history would flow without a particular interest in its chronological course, in our discoteque before and after, past and future become interchangeable elements, do you think could be for an interpreter and a composer a risk of a uniform vision? A "music globalization"?

Yes there is this risk, but this is also the time when all the information is just a click away so it's up to us.

Shall we talk a moment about your discography? In 2010 you released "Wait" and in 2014 "Tales" with Cristiano Da Ros that really impressed me, how were born these two projects?

I could define "Wait" as a collection: it contains songs written even ten years before their publication; was a bit like a sum, tidying up the notes and put together the wealth of my previous experience. I have played … everything and in that record I tried to put it all in my guitar.
"Tales" is instead a starting point, the project with Cristiano Da Ros was born from the idea to “steal” the acoustic sound of rural blues and place it into a different musical context, perhaps more modern and open to different harmonies. In addition to the sound and harmony with Christiano we work a lot about the role of our two instruments: playing in duo allows us to avoid more conventional functions, and leads us to dialogue during our improvisation’s moments. Christiano is an excellent soloist while fingerstyle guitar playing allows me to have a polyphonic dimension and a wide sound spectrum; I hope these aspects and changes of role could be appreciated because we have tried to add color’s variety and more dynamism to our tracks.
The line of continuity between these two albums is the live recording: I like the idea of recording my performance and sweat to pursue it, I would like someone listening to the CD thinking "nice I'm listening to these two play their music." Both records are released by Baraban Records, which is my project, or maybe it's still only a hope, of an independent label.

I know that you are a rural blues fan, I love playing Mississippi John Hurt and I'm starting with Reverend Gary Davis, what are your preferences? It 'a very large world to explore, be blessed the cds reprints!

Fantastic! I love Skip James and Blind Blake, amazing guitarist, Big Bill Broonzy, sound crazy, Blind Willie Johnson, Bo Carter ... there are so many. Yes it is a really nice trip and the deeper you dig the more you want to know. An expert? No doubt: my friend, Woody Mann.

What advice would you give to a young person today who would like to record a cd and start a career as professional musician?

The advice I always give myself is to be concrete and have small goals.

Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book "Rockers, Jazzbos & Visionaries" Carlos Santana said, "Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously. "I think he has a great talent, but ... what is your vision?

I have a vision: Marzullo (a boring italian TV presenter) has taken possession of you for this question! About Santana just look at his performance at Woodstock to understand his art. Andrea thank you very much for this interview, your blog is very interesting I'm just happy to be there, see you soon!

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