“Jazz Monthly Feature Interview” Carla Marciano
Smitty: Well, it is certainly my wonderful pleasure to finally welcome an incredible sax player to JazzMonthly.com. She has amazing “sax stamina” and incredible “saxability,” and I must tell you, her latest CD is all of that. It is called Change of Mood. She’s the toast and the most of all Italy, one of the strongest sax players in the world and her music will truly ignite you! Please welcome Black Saint recording artist Ms. Carla Marciano. Carla, how ya doin’?
Carla Marciano (CM): I’m really fine, thank you.
Smitty: Great. Well, it is certainly wonderful to finally talk with you at JazzMonthly.com.
CM: It’s a pleasure for me as well to talk to you. Thank you for doing this interview.
Smitty: Oh yes, you are so welcome, it’s my pleasure. Now, I must tell you that I certainly loved Trane’s Groove and A Strange Day, but Change of Mood has just won my heart.
CM: What can I say? I’m speechless. And of course I’m really glad to hear that you really appreciated my last two CDs.
Smitty: Yes. Now, we met finally on Broadway in New York and it was such a pleasure to meet you and your band.
CM: It was such a great pleasure for us as well to meet you in New York and I was really honored that you flew from Houston to New York to be at our concert and listen to our music. You were so kind to all of us and your attitude towards us showed me that you are a great friend of ours, so we really liked that. Thank you.
Smitty: Yes. Thank you very much. It was such a thrill for me. I wanted to say that D. J. Fazio could not be here with me today, but she sends her warmest regards to you and the band.
CM: D. J. Fazio, yes! I’m so happy to hear that she’s sending us her regards. She was with you as well in New York and it was a great pleasure to meet her there. Please give my regards to her. She was so kind to fly together with you because I think she comes from Canada and it was really great to join us in New York, so thanks again for meeting us there in New York. We have all the gifts you gave us, your souvenirs, and when I look at them I remember the days spent together. I’ve got that small saxophone that you gave me to hold my keys, the keys to my house, so whenever I open and lock the door of my house, I remember about you, so thank you.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Oh, that was so sweet. Thank you so much. You’re so welcome. Okay, so talk to me about how you first learned to play the saxophone.
CM: I started playing the piano, really, and I was about eleven years old. In my house my father used to play it well, so we were really very much in a musical environment, so I grew up in that environment. My father used to play the guitar when he was young and so I have always had a piano in my house, and my dad has always loved jazz, Ellington, Sinatra, for example, Jobim, Count Basie, and so I started listening to jazz music since I was a child and then the saxophone had always been my sort of dream and so as soon as I started listening to saxophone music in the recorded version, I decided that I wanted to start playing the saxophone, but I couldn’t start playing it before I was sixteen because I suffered from asthma, a strong kind of sort of asthma, so I couldn’t play it, so that’s why I couldn’t start training on the saxophone. But later on my dad gave me a saxophone on my sixteenth birthday and from that moment on I never stopped playing it. And then I took my diploma in clarinet at the State School of Music in my hometown in Salerno, but I’ve always preferred to play the saxophone rather than the other instruments.
Smitty: Oh, wow. That’s fantastic. And you are such a strong sax player now! So do you remember your first professional show?
CM: Yes, it was here in my hometown in Salerno and I played and performed in a jazz club in my hometown.
Smitty: Very cool. So talk to me about this wonderful band. I just enjoyed listening to them. They’re just fantastic players. Talk to me how you met them and what they mean for you and your music.
CM: They were people who I met first of all as friends and then as music players and so there is a very strong link among us that goes beyond music and professional performances. We have been playing together since the first CD was released, Trane’s Groove, but I had already met them a long time before and we had already played together before being a band, so we had already met before and played together before this project we have now where we are sharing.
Smitty: Very cool.
CM: And among us there was a very strong feeling as far as music is concerned. As soon as I decided to create this band and follow this path, they were really enthusiastic to join this group and that’s why we could work together in good harmony and do rehearsals and work on different pieces of music because moreover we live in the same town and that helped us to work together. That allowed us to grow together as a band and work and do rehearsals and exchange ideas and stimulate each other and learn from each other’s own experience because we usually go out together apart from being in the same band and we get along well as friends, we meet up and go out in the evenings, so this strong, friendly relationship gives something more to music and helps us improve our style and our music.
Smitty: Oh, that’s so cool. When you’ve got that kind of synergy together, it really makes for fantastic music when you perform. Talk about your tour in the U.S.
CM: I liked it so much. It was a great experience, a fantastic experience for us all, because for me time playing jazz festivals and concerts in the U.S. was a great, great emotion. It was a great honor and a wonderful experience. The festivals I took part in were really beautiful, really fantastic. In New York, the festival was dedicated to the Italian women in the world of jazz, it was their fourth year, and it was so exciting!! The festival in Hartford, Conn. it was a fantastic festival that—one that is a great tradition, so it had an emotional sort of experience that I never had before, and then I took part in another big event in New Haven and the name of the event is Firehouse Twelve and I played there and the place was really unique, really beautiful, really liked being there and performing there.
Smitty: What was it like talking with some of the musicians and the audiences?
CM: I didn’t expect my music would be so appreciated and I was so glad to hear that—I think the audience appreciated my music more than the Italians usually do here in Italy, so I was really happy to notice that everybody liked my music. It was a great experience.
Smitty: Yes, you have fantastic music. We love it. Were you able to meet some of the musicians here in the United States while you were on tour here? What was that like?
CM: Unfortunately, my tour in the U.S. wasn’t so long. It lasted only ten days. But I had the opportunity to listen to some jazz musicians, U.S. musicians, in Hartford and New York, Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Alexander. We listened to the concert in Hartford but I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to them. But in New York I could go to listen to Clark Terry at the Village Vanguard in New York.
Smitty: Oh, wow. You got a real treat! Clark Terry!
CM: Yes, I did. I listened to but I didn’t have the chance to talk to him, unfortunately, but I was there at one of his concert performances.
Smitty: Oh, fantastic. On the new record, I love all the songs, but my favorite is “Change of Mood.” These are all original songs, right?
CM: Yes, they are all original ones, yes.
Smitty: Talk about what this record has meant for you.
CM: First of all, this record is the first one that includes all original songs that have been written by me and it doesn’t include any other non-original pieces. While in the other records there were some of my compositions and some were original pieces, some other ones had been composed by Alessandro LaCorte, but in this record, all the music is original and has been composed by me. But I would like to underline that I usually arrange and change the different pieces, always in a team, together with the members of my band, and among them, most of all, with Alessandro LaCorte, so we work together.
Smitty: Oh, very cool. He’s an incredible musician, too.
CM: And I like to say that “Change of Mood” is also the title of one of my pieces that is on the record and it has got a very soft atmosphere and starts with a harmonic structure that is quite unusual. There is a sequence of different chords and it requires much attention when playing it, and then there is an abrupt change that leads to the final performance that is very strong and full of emotions. And “Change of Mood” means changing your attitude but not direction, musical part. Only sort of change of my personal mood, attitude. So I wanted to say that with that title, not that I wanted to change my musical direction.
Smitty: Nice! “Change Of Mood” is my favorite.
CM: This sort of atmosphere had already been included in the other pieces at the time, my previous records, like my ballads. As you can see, I love ballads and each one of my favorite pieces, so I wanted to show this sort of a duality within myself, and in the track “Change of Mood” it is not in one piece. It joins these two different sides of the coin. That’s why I thought that this title would suit the record to show everybody that inside of me there are these two different aspects. From strong, emotionally intact to a smooth, soft attitude and softer ballads.
Smitty: Yes. I love it! And that’s what sets you are apart as a great musician.
CM: Strong character but a soft one as well.
Smitty: Very cool and unique. When you are on tour in Italy and Europe, how is it different from when you were on tour in the U.S.?
CM: What really shocked me in the U.S. is that even my strongest, hardest mode of tracks were appreciated by the audience, including the middle-aged or older-aged ones, and that was really unusual because in Italy and in Europe that wouldn’t happen. Maybe because I think that in the U.S. is where jazz originated, so you feel it, so you are used to listening to it, to appreciating it, and so notwithstanding the age, people know jazz, they enjoy it, and they can even understand a particular type of jazz, like the slight difference from the one that is always on the radio and it’s more commercial.
CM: While in Italy, there are many festivals that are devoted to jazz and thank goodness jazz in Italy is appreciated as well, but unfortunately jazz is not broadcasted so much on TV or on the radio. For example, the Italian TV very seldom broadcasts shows on jazz or jazz performances, so that’s why maybe in Italy children or older-aged people don’t know much about it. In Italy, jazz is attractive to a certain range of people, people who are already fond of it, who already listen to it, and that’s why very often that range of people who go to concerts is a minimum percentage of the potential audience.
Smitty: Yes. Well, sometimes we find that here in the U.S., in certain parts of the U.S. too, but yes, I’m so glad that jazz is alive and well in Italy. That’s fantastic. This is your third record with Black Saint. Talk about how much you like being with the Black Saint label.
CM: My cooperation with the Black Saint label is really, really positive. Black Saint is an Italian label. I’m really glad that they had issued all my CDs, my records. They produce the records of very few artists because they select the artists and pay much attention to the artists they produce. And Black Saint has got a special policy that is quite unique because they follow the same line, choosing the artists who are going to work with them, devoting to them the proper time they need and supporting them, and they helped me a lot because thanks to them I could issue my records and, moreover, release my records and, moreover, I became famous thanks to them, so it is very important for me to cooperate with this label.
And before Trane’s Groove, I was sitting in my house and training on the saxophone and working hard and therefore the records released by Black Saint really changed my life and as an artist, although I spend a lot of time sitting at home or working hard and doing rehearsals, so from that point of view, not so much has changed so far. I still work hard and rehearse.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Okay. Well, I really like what Black Saint label is doing with their artists and in particular with what they’re doing with you because they put a lot of quality and a lot of time in their projects. It’s beautiful, I love the album layout, I even love the case that the CD is in and the cover art. It’s beautiful.
CM: Yeah, I agree with you. I really like what they do, really.
Smitty: They have a very colorful approach to their label and they really do a very good job of taking care of their musicians.
CM: Yes, you’re right and that’s why I would take advantage of this interview to thank Flavio and Giovanni Bonandrini for their support, their help.
Smitty: Oh, very cool. So going back to making the record, what was it like while putting the record together and working with your band? Were there some really cool things that happened while you were working together?
CM: Let me think about it. There are so many.
CM: The first record we released, Trane’s Groove, I remembered that we started recording it at home and then I sent all the material that I recorded, the music, that we started recording some pieces at home, and then we ended up like recorded with a special mix, and then I sent my first master to the Black Saint label. And then I got a telephone from Giovanni Bonandrini—at midnight and I thought it was a sort of joke, and so it was quite funny because at the end he swore that it was him, and that’s a telephone call at midnight on Saturday night, our cooperation started and we released the first CD together.
Smitty: (Laughs.) That’s funny. All right, well, this is your best record yet, it is fantastic, I hope everyone in the U.S. gets an opportunity to get a copy of your new record, Change of Mood, and it is a valuable collection of great songs that you have written. How can people in the U.S. get this record and how can people around the world get this record?
CM: The easiest way to get the record is connecting to the Black Saint web site and the address is www.blacksaint.com and they can buy the record online from this year, yes, they have started selling the records online.
Smitty: Oh, very good, excellent.
CM: Thank you!
Smitty: Yes, very cool. I want to thank you for such a wonderful interview and making it so much fun, it is a great record and I hope that everyone in the world gets an opportunity to hear this fantastic music. You are one of the best sax players in the world and congratulations on this wonderful new CD Change of Mood.
CM: I wish to thank you again because you are an extraordinary person. I was really lucky to meet you beyond the wonderful words you said about me and my music, and I thank you because you are really a wonderful person, and also because I usually have got this sort of feeling when I meet someone. I feel I’m a pretty good judge of character when I meet a good one or a bad one. Even though we met only once, I suddenly felt that you are a very good person and I felt this inside, and that’s why I was really happy to meet you. It was a great opportunity for me as well, so thank you.
Smitty: Oh, well, you’re so welcome and thank you so much for those beautiful words, and I feel the same way, you are truly a great person, musician and friend and I hope we get to meet again.
CM: I do hope to meet you soon, really. It would be great if we met again in the U.S. or in Italy, anywhere.
Smitty: Yes, we must do that. I would love that. (Laughs.)
CM: I was really touched when you went to New York from Houston to be there at that concert to listen to our music, so I was really touched, and all the members of my group really loved it. They were really touched by the fact that you traveled such a long way to get to New York and be there for our concert.
Smitty: Oh, it was such a pleasure and I still hold that as one of my fondest memories and I will never forget that night and all the fun and the great music. Ladies and Gentlemen around the world…..The fantastic, Ms Carla Marciano!
CM: Thank you for the kind words, thank you.
Special Thanks, to our wonderful interpreter for this interview, Ms. Daniela Ruffolo
Baldwin “Smitty” Smith
For More Information Visit www.carlamarciano.it and www.myspace.com/carlamarciano and www.blacksaint.com
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