The obvious difference between his new album and the previous Reservoir one is the sentiment behind each one, he explained. Autumn in New York was a reflection on his somber mood following the deaths of two friends in the September 11 World Trade Center disaster, while The Tempest is a reaffirmation of the joys of life. "Autumn in New York, to me, really was dedicated to two old friends and the city I love," he said. "I was just feeling like I want to express that. I think it's important that we find artistic expresion of real human things, and that's what that record was about for me. Having done that, one moves on and one learns lessons, and one of the important lessons is that life is really to be lived to the fullest every moment. This is not a rehearsal."
That having been said, there is one underlying theme in Maliverni's music: his faith. "Let the Sea Roar", a tune on The Tempest, draws its inspiration from the 98th Psalm of David and is one of his continuing body of works for gospel choir and jazz group. "Little David", from his previous album, was based on the 17th chapter of Samuel. While the titles and allusions are just passing references in the liner notes, he doesn't bludgeon the casual listener with his belief, but it is undeniably there.
"I believe that music is the voice of God, I really do," he said. "I know from studying the earliest musical history that music is actually a physical thing. When one strikes a string or any object or blows air through a tube, there is a fundamental pitch which represents a physical moving of air which creates a sound. It's like an actually real, quantifiable thing that exists in the universe as, I believe, one of its base elements. That's not man-made. That's where music comes from. Music is just as part of the real physical world as anything you can see, touch, smell or feel. As such, we have to give it up that that was here before us."
Malinverni performs his more overtly religious works as minister of music at a Black Baptist church in Brooklyn. "That's the service I go to every week and my family comes with me.
"What's really interesting is this church is a predominantly African-American Baptist Church, but it started as the first Italian Baptist Church of Brooklyn," he said. "In its way, the church's history is like my own. I grew up playing in this Baptist Church, came to love jazz and I'm now doing it also in the church. I write music for the choir. I write these suites for gospel choir and jazz quartet and we put on concerts of that music. Steve Wilson played on the last one.
"In my musical life, and my personal life as well, it's all coming together at the same time - the thing I do at the church, my playing on the bandstand and my classical playing and my life in general. Also, my teaching life." he said. "It seems like it's all about allowing the thing to flow in its most organic way and to really be a vessel for what's going on, what's coming at the moment."
Visit Pete Malinverni on the web at www12.brinkster.com/malinverni/ .
2003 AAJ Interview