The energy is like sunlight and presses on with a jazzy insistence. On vibes, the masterful mallets of Claudio Piselli dance and spin through eight flaming tracks. His band’s new CD called Love the Sunshine has hit the airwaves with style.
The song “But the Beat Goes On” spotlights the amazing vocals of Oumy N’Diaye with a “Flip Fantasia”-like flair; her tone is sweet and pure. Piselli grooves mightily and the keyboard cuts it up. Turrentine’s “Sugar” has soul and boasts an outstanding and creative solo on vibes thanks to Piselli’s high respect for the tune and delicious bluesy noteplay on organ; sax hits it just right with affirmation and obvious affection. The most enjoyable might just be “Vibration” with such a perfect melody and great breakouts; once more, the vibes come shimmering to life.
Personnel: Pierpaolo Ranieri on guitar; Seby Burgio on keyboard; Gabriele Buonasorte on saxophone; and Marcello Spagnolo on drums.
When you did you first hear jazz and how did it make you feel?
I live in Rome and grew up in the suburbs and to protect myself from bad company, I often went to concerts. I tried to stay in touch with music as much as possible. I was lucky enough to attend incredible concerts like that of Bob Berg and Elvin Jones in 1999. Thanks to these concerts I decided to start studying drums, which is my first instrument! I felt happy playing it and I thought that with music I could make a difference and become a good guy!
When did you start vibes? What was it like to get started as a professional musician?
The vibraphone was a later choice. I discovered it thanks to my classical studies at the conservatory. I would say that over time it was a natural choice. Percussionists today play many types of percussion and is trying to find the most suitable instrument for himself. So, I chose the vibraphone since I’ve worked in orchestras and groups, and I already played the drums. I could accept jobs for both roles. Then the art of improvising with the vibraphone conquered me completely.
Why are you inspired by Roy Ayers and how did that lead to making this album?
I have always admired the figure of Roy Ayers who managed to bring the vibraphone to a vast audience, which is an instrument that is still today mistaken for a xylophone. Roy for me is an ambassador of peace, because his collaborations are struggles for human rights. I would like my music to send the message about respecting cultures and life. This album is a tribute to Roy Ayers and in the same time it also tells my life.
What was your vision for this album, and do you feel you have achieved it?
The vision for this album was multicolored. I didn’t think of a jazz rock funk album or anything. I put in all the ingredients! In this album I could tell so much. It means I’ll have write another album!
Your favorite tracks? Which was the most fun to produce? And the hardest?
My favorite song is “Thank You,” because it is a special thanks to my wife and daughters. A word that we often use with difficulty or repeat it often but not when needed! We had fun in the studio recording our songs with the band and before recording we did several gigs, so we were ready for the recording!
The most complex track was “For Roy.” We tried several takes before reaching the ideal feeling.
Why was it important to include vocalist Oumy N’Diaye in this music?
The choice of Oumy was important because today everyone wants the singer! I love her voice and I have been working with her for several years. She is a wonderful person and has a lot of experience in both pop and R&B. She sings Erykah Badu songs very well. And she never tells the drummer to play slower!
Talk about the rest of your band and what they contribute to your overall flavor.
All the other musicians are of a huge artistic depth. Each one comes from different musical experiences. We often work together on other projects and we are very close. With the bassist there’s also an excellent human understanding and we’ve known each other since we were teenagers.
What do you like best about being a musician?
I don’t know exactly. There are joys and pains in being a musician. But the beauty is precisely this incessant struggle between I can do it or I can’t. With music, we have the possibility to travel and meet people. Today, I long for a tour with the musicians from this album. At the same time, I would like to expand my work, to make important collaborations with new musicians to grow more and more artistically.
What is your best advice to those who are just starting out on this instrument?
The advice I can give to a young vibraphone player is to get a big car and a trolley to transport the instrument so as not to break your back! The important thing for me was to make many transcriptions of the masters like Lionel Hampton, Terry Gibbs, Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Roy Ayers and Joe Locke. And listen to lots of music to learn different languages. Every day.
Today I teach in schools and try to pass on my passion for the vibraphone and drums to the kids. Awaken in them the passion for music. That’s my goal.
For more information, visit https://www.claudiopiselli.com.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
© 2023 Debbie Burke
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