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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Dominick Farinacci
interview by Jonathan Widran

Twelve years after Wynton Marsalis invited Julliard bound Cleveland high school student Dominick Farinacci to be a special guest on the PBS Broadcast “Live From Lincoln Center: A Tribute To Louis Armstrong,” the 29 year old trumpeter--now a world class musician with seven recordings and countless U.S. tours and international appearances to his credit—is still filling jazz legends with awe. In 2010, the great Quincy Jones popped by the hip Los Angeles club Vibrato to check out Farinacci’s show. Jones’ classic response: “This kid is 360 degrees!”—a reference to the cosmopolitan, culturally expansive range of American and world music influences that Farinacci brings to his unique blend of traditional and contemporary jazz.

Over the years, Farinacci has won numerous awards that speak to his wide ranging impact and appeal: the International New Star Award (along with Diana Krall and Christian McBride), the Disney New Star Award and first place honors in the Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Competition. He was also invited to perform at the O2 in London opening for Jamie Cullum and Jeff Beck. Launching his recording career overseas with an incredibly prolific run of five albums from 2003-2006 on Japan’s Pony Canyon/M&I Records, the NYC based artist blossomed with his first U.S. recording Lovers, Tales and Dancers (2009, the first jazz recording produced by legendary three time Grammy winning pop/rock producer Russ Titelman (Eric Clapton, Randy Newman, Steve Winwood).

JazzMonthly: Your two U.S. releases are Lovers, Tales & Dancers and Dawn of Goodbye. Can you tell me about the concepts of these recordings and how they differ from the Japanese releases you put out from 2003-2006 on Japan’s Pony Canyon/M&I Records?

DF: Tales is a collection of songs from all around the world that inspire me, including compositions by Astor Piazzolla, Jacques Brel and a Bulgarian folk song. It’s always been my vision to bring all different kinds of music together. I also love playing ballads and that album has many of them, plus the sound of horns with strings, which led me to work with a small chamber ensemble. Kenny Barron has such a beautiful elegant touch on piano and Rich Derosa and I built the arrangements around his sound. Dawn of Goodbye was influenced by my time growing up playing Great American Songbook standards in a jazz style. It also reflects my love for vocals, and the way it’s tracked tells a specific love story from song to song based on certain events in my life at the time I recorded it. The Japanese releases have similar components, but the later albums have a more focused musical direction. My earlier works are a bit more all over the map, and their style is more straight ahead swinging jazz.

JazzMonthly: I’m most familiar with the Lovers album, which also draws from many different styles and composers—including Ornette Coleman, Billie Holiday, Puccini and Japanese film composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Is jazz a common denominator for your or is calling you a jazz trumpeter somewhat limiting in light of all the styles you embrace?

DF: People sometimes find it useful to divide artists into genres and categories, but I don’t necessarily see myself as a jazz trumpet player only. I try to be more of a vocalist through my horn, and sometimes the inspiration for that is a well known jazz vocal recording. Having a foundational jazz vocabulary has helped me expand into other styles, but when I think of  jazz trumpeters, I think of Blue Mitchell, Kenny Dorham and Clifford Brown.

JazzMonthly: How did you get your first deal in Japan and why weren’t those albums released in the U.S.? Which is your favorite of these and why?

DF: The deal I had was specific to the Japanese market and came about through different events, starting with when Wynton Marsalis invited me back to Lincoln Center to join a show paying tribute to Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard—two of my favorite trumpeters. I met the event’s producer, Todd Barkan, an integral part of the Lincoln Center Jazz circle who had produced many artists for Japanese labels. He hooked up a deal for me with M&I Records. I was still a student at Julliard at the time. That label didn’t have licensing with an American label, so that’s why they were never released in the U.S. I think I like the third one best—just the overall song choice, the sequence and the look of the album. It was also the most commercially successful.

JazzMonthly: Dawn of Goodbye was your last release in 2011. Are you currently working on a new recording project?

DF: I’m working on a music video for new song I wrote that has tango and flamenco influences. We’ve come up for the storyline and it will be my first official video clip that’s not just watching my band play live.  I’m working with great young video director, Dan McKenna, who doesn’t usually work with jazz artists.  The song is untitled right now, but it will be definitely be on my next EP. The project will probably feature four other tracks of mainly original music that has more South American and flamenco influences.

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