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Take Five With...

Take Five With Bob Albanese

By Published: August 12, 2009
Meet Bob Albanese: Bob Albanese was born in Newark, N.J. in 1957. Growing up and the Jersey shore, he began practicing the piano at age 8. At age 15, he won top honors in the Garden State Talent Expo which culminated in a solo performance at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. This was the beginning of his professional career. Graduating Neptune High School (Neptune, N.J.) he moved to Boston where he studied at Berklee college of Music for approximately 3 years, while playing in various bands employed in the greater Boston area.

From there his career has taken many turns; from Cape May, N.J. where he played steady solo gigs, to a brief stop in Atlantic and a final move New York City where he has been based since 1981. He performed as alternating Latin and jazz house pianist at the Rainbow Room for a number of years with bandleader Mauricio Smith. His musical sojourns have taken him all over the world. Having played with artists ranging from Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
to Anita O'Day
Anita O'Day
Anita O'Day
1919 - 2006
vocalist
, Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh
1927 - 1987
sax, tenor
, Ben Vereen
Ben Vereen
b.1946
, Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
and Datevik Hovenesian, he is a highly versatile pianist composer and arranger. He holds both and BM and a MM from Manhattan School of Music.

He has recorded with many artist as a sideman. His debut recording as leader is called One Way/Detour, recorded in January of 2008 and distributed worldwide by the Zoho music label, featuring Tom Kennedy on bass and Willard Dyson on drums with special guest artist, legendary multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan.

Instrument(s):

Piano, Hammond organ, synthesizer, melodian.

Teachers and/or influences?

Teachers include:

Morris Nanton, Harold Danko

Harold Danko
Harold Danko
b.1947
piano
, Dennis Sandole, Herb Pomeroy
Herb Pomeroy
Herb Pomeroy
b.1930
trumpet
, Michael Gibbs
Michael Gibbs
Michael Gibbs
b.1937
trombone
, Madam Chaloff, Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh
1927 - 1987
sax, tenor
, Garry Dial
Garry Dial
b.1954
piano
, Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
, Michael Abene, Clare Fischer
Clare Fischer
Clare Fischer
1928 - 2012
band/orchestra

Influences:

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, the The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
, Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach
b.1928
composer/conductor
, Santana, Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, Motown, Lee Michaels, Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
1925 - 2005
organ, Hammond B3
, Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
b.1951
congas
, Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
b.1947
piano
, Claus Ogermann, Lalo Shiffrin, Michele Colombier, Michel Legrand
Michel Legrand
Michel Legrand
b.1932
piano
, Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
1918 - 2013
piano
, Dick Wellstood, Jack Six
Jack Six
b.1930
, Brubeck, Bradleys: Ronnie Mathews
Ronnie Mathews
Ronnie Mathews
1935 - 2008
piano
, Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
, Hank Jones
Hank Jones
Hank Jones
1918 - 2010
piano
, Harold Danko
Harold Danko
Harold Danko
b.1947
piano
, Kirt Lightsey, Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
, Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
, Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, Clare Fischer
Clare Fischer
Clare Fischer
1928 - 2012
band/orchestra
, Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966
piano
, Noro Morales
Noro Morales
b.1911
composer/conductor
, Vince Guaraldi
Vince Guaraldi
Vince Guaraldi
1928 - 1976
piano
, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
b.1936
piano
, Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
, Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
b.1953
saxophone
, Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
, Don Grolnick
Don Grolnick
Don Grolnick
1947 - 1996
piano
, Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
, Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
b.1945
piano
, Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
, Art Tatum
Art Tatum
Art Tatum
1909 - 1956
piano
, Chopin, Debussy, Mahler, Messian... Zimbo Trio. Milton Banana, Tambastics...life... Kahlil Gibran, Eric Fromm, Aldous Huxley, Jimmy Durante
Jimmy Durante
Jimmy Durante
1893 - 1980
piano
, Lord Buckley, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Woody Allen, Victor Borga, the swing of the cosmos, and more...

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

As far back as I can remember.

Your sound and approach to music:

I play what I hear. The music I love is reflected in what I improvise within the context of the jazz tradition. I am always absorbing and seeking further understanding of music, as per the respected traditions, but I am a non-traditionalist in my playing and composing for the most part. However, I believe that the styles of Bill Evans, Clare Fischer, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock (to note strongest influences) are evident in my musical approach.

Your teaching approach:

I try my best to allow the students individuality to blossom. I offer theoretical information (the perennial language of music) as it pertains to their individual needs. I demonstrate the applications of this information in spontaneous improvisations as well as myriad Jazz and Classical references. I write etudes for students when I feel it will benefit and help to advance their goals. I use technology, i.e. music notation programs (Sibelius), via the Internet, file transfer, video conference, YouTube et al.

Your dream band:

My dream band would include my present most versatile trio with Tom Kennedy
Tom Kennedy
Tom Kennedy
b.1960
bass
(bass) and Willard Dyson (drums) at the nucleus. Many configurations could ensue from there, from quartet with a strong, story telling soloist such as Ira Sullivan
Ira Sullivan
Ira Sullivan
b.1931
reeds
, Adam Niewood
Adam Niewood
Adam Niewood
b.1977
saxophone
, Claudio Roditi
Claudio Roditi
Claudio Roditi
b.1946
trumpet
, Frank Wess
Frank Wess
Frank Wess
1922 - 2013
sax, tenor
, Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin
b.1940
sax, tenor
, Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
b.1945
trumpet
, Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
b.1953
saxophone
, Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, Steve Slagle
Steve Slagle
Steve Slagle
b.1951
sax, alto
, Bob Mover
Bob Mover
Bob Mover
b.1952
saxophone
, Bob Francesini, Bob Malach, Dick Oatts
Dick Oatts
Dick Oatts
b.1953
saxophone
, Walter Smith Jr, Dori Cayami, Ralph Moore
Ralph Moore
Ralph Moore
b.1956
, Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
b.1969
trumpet
, Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, Tim Hagans
Tim Hagans
Tim Hagans
b.1954
trumpet
, Paul Meyers
Paul Meyers
Paul Meyers

guitar
, Loretta Ables, Azure McCall, Rachel Gonzales, Diane Reeves, Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
, Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato

vocalist
, Wayne daSilva, Joe Locke
Joe Locke
Joe Locke
b.1959
vibraphone
, Filipe Salles, Joe Magnarelli
Joe Magnarelli
Joe Magnarelli
b.1960
trumpet
, Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Tom Waits
b.1949
vocalist
.

Other favorite bass players:

John Benitez

, Ruben Samama, Ugonna Okegwo, Ratzo B. Harris
Ratzo B. Harris
b.1955
bass
, Luques Curtis, Ruben Rodriquez, Mario Rodriquez, Doug Weiss. Other favorite drummers: Victor Lewis
Victor Lewis
Victor Lewis
b.1950
drums
, Victor Jones, Steve Davis
Steve Davis
Steve Davis
b.1967
trombone
, Joe Ascione
Joe Ascione
Joe Ascione
b.1961
drums
, Steve Williams
Steve Williams
Steve Williams
b.1956
drums
, Steve Johns, Henry Cole
Henry Cole
Henry Cole

drums
, Obed Calvaire, William Clarke
William Clarke
1951 - 1996
harmonica
, Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark
b.1946
drums
, Daduka deVonseca, Steve Berrios
Steve Berrios
Steve Berrios

percussion
, Robby Ameen
Robby Ameen
Robby Ameen
b.1960
drums
, Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes
b.1926
drums
, Al Foster
Al Foster
Al Foster
b.1944
drums
, Paul Motian
Paul Motian
Paul Motian
1931 - 2011
drums
, Frank Bambara, Yayo... Nana Vasconcelos
Nana Vasconcelos
Nana Vasconcelos
b.1944
percussion
... so many drummers, so little time.

My ideal big band is an extended eight brass five saxophones 18-piece band with vibes, guitar optional second keyboardist, and multi-percussionist . I like to include tuba and French horn when possible.

My ideal jazz philharmonic includes the large ensemble described above plus full string sections, woodwinds, brass, timpani and harp.

My musical directions follow a jazz aesthetic with leanings toward Latin, Brazilian and ethnic influences, as well as everyday influences of American melting pot (especially NYC).

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

On Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
's band in 1981, the bus got stuck in the mud in Terra Hoate, Indiana... Buddy ordered the band to get out and push. Everybody seemed to look up at him like "are you serious?" ... he was. Eventually took numerous hours for the bus to be towed out of mud. Then drove 30 hours straight to gig in Las Vegas (the Jerry Lewis Telethon). Buddy, in typical fashion, played unbelievable... but chose to end the 15-minute slot after the first tune because he didn't like that he was kept waiting so long.

Playing with an organ trio on the corner of 42nd and 6th Ave one summer in the '80s, Stevie Wonder walked by with brother Milton and dropped a sizable tip in my top pocket while I played under the hot sun with my shades on.

Playing in Grand Central station on Casio keyboard with Tim Horner on congas in the early '80s, and got a summons for "entertaining the passengers." from a cop named "Officer Nodo."

My best gig to date was the one I did with my trio with Ira Sullivan for my CD release party for One Way Detour, at Smalls Jazz club in Greenwich Village.

Favorite venue:

Smalls (10th St NYC), Oscar Peterson Theatre (Montreal, Canada) Concert Haus, (Berlin, Germany), Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Jazz A Junas, (Junas, France), The Sunset Club (Paris, France), Concert Hall Issi li Moulineau, France. Citi Jazz, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sweet Basil Tokyo, Japan, Blue Note Club, Fukuoka, Osaka, Japan, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

One Way/Detour, Bob Albanese trio with Ira Sullivan.

It was a spontaneous session. First and second takes, nice piano, great rhythm section (Tom Kennedy, bass, Willard Dyson, drums) and guest Ira Sullivan, who was 76 at the time of the recording in 2008. It was a simple session without a lot of preparation or preconceived notions. I wanted to document the way I play in write in the moment. Ira Sullivan was one of many great artists that I had the opportunity to play with once. I wanted to make it happen again. By virtue of a gig that I was doing in Palm Beach, Florida with the trio backing singer, dancer, stage and screen star, Ben Vereen, we seized the day(s) on our two days off and went in to a newly found local studio in Jupiter, Florida (instead of relaxing by the pool) and recorded One Way/Detour. I chose the title based on an oxymoronic street sign that me and my father and law spotted in Manhattan previously. The One Way going one direction and the Detour sign posted below in the opposite direction. I identify with that sign as a motif for how much of my life and career has gone. The titles on the project are oxymoronic in nature as well, "Ugly Beauty," "Midnight Sun," "Major Minority," "Joyful Noise," "Friendly Fire," etc...

It was picked up by Zoho music label aka producer Jochen Becker and is now in world distribution. It has made it to the JazzWeek charts and is my first official release to have made it to WBGO Jazz 88 radio Newark, N.J. (my home town--- my grandmother had a restaurant, Mama Lucia's Home Style Italian Restaurant, on Bloomfield Ave. for 40 years).

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Oscar Peterson Night Train, Jimmy Smith Home Cooking, Miles Davis Bitches Brew.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

A fresh approach to the mainstream.

Did you know...

Newark, N.J. is my home town—my father played trumpet in the house band at the Adams Theatre, also played with Charlie Spivak (once). My grandmother had a restaurant, , on Bloomfield Ave. for over 40 years.

CDs you are listening to now:

Michel Colombier Old Fool Back on Earth.

Desert Island picks:

Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside);

Clare Fischer, Salsa Picante (out of print);

Miles Davis, Seven Steps to Heaven (Columbia);

Egberto Gismonti

Egberto Gismonti
Egberto Gismonti
b.1947
guitar, acoustic
with Nana Vasconcelos, Danca Das Cabecas (ECM);

Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (Motown).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Fertile but often unyielding to the present times. The zeitgeist is present but rarely acknowledged and broadcasted. Jazz education is overrun by politics and is far too ensconced in the agenda of a few.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Openness, public awareness, encouraging of longer attention spans, embracing world cultures and nurturing originality and talent.

What is in the near future?

Solo piano project. small band (quintet, sextet, and up). Cafe Sympatico Large Ensemble.

By Day:

A husband, father.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

A chef, author, photographer, artist.


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