Take Five With Willerm Delisfort
Pianist and composer Willerm Delisfort is a messenger of life using music as his tool. His career extends the continuum of musical styles that ranges from jazz, gospel, R&B and many more. Because of this, Willerm's versatility has created a high demand for him with prominent jazz, rap, soul, and fusion artists including 2009 Best World Guitarist Fareed Haque, Grammy Award-winning artist T-Pain, Corey Wilkes,Javon Jackson George Freeman, etc.. Featured on over seven albums on piano, along with several commercial recordings broadcast all over the world. His most recent, the critically acclaimed Flat Planetâ by Virtuosity Guitarist Fareed Haque, which is available on Owl Studio Records. Next expected release will be Willerm's debut album, Freedom Riders scheduled to be released in September 2009.
Teachers and/or influences?
Willie Pickens, John McMinn, Melton Mustafa St. and Ronald Carter.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I first played the piano. It was weird, it all came about when I went over to a friend of the family's house, and he had a organ (weird I know). I found it really intriguing, therefore, being a kid, what else am I gonna do, so I went on it to play. Thinking my mom was gonna jump on me for it, Sego (friend of the family) said "No, let him play." Therefore the next day comes along, and I got tired of waiting for an hour until my big brother gets home from school, I went on and looked for something to do. On the school wall at Shadowland Elementary School in Little Haiti Miami, FL was a flyer for piano lessons, just $5 a week. I immediately rip the flyer off the wall and asked my father was it Ok, he looked at me and said "If you want to, sure."
I wasn't the greatest at most things in school, I wasn't the best in English, the fastest runner (but close to it), I didn't get the highest scores, but it came to music, I was able to shine the way a mother's child should shine.
Your sound and approach to music:
Hmmm... This has always been a hard question to answer simply because I never try to place it in a category or box to be interpret. I always wanted to be the guy who made you feel good when ever you heard him play or his music you know? Some of my influences in life have been musicians / groups such as; Oscar Peterson
When I heard Wynton Marsalis album Black Codes for the first time in college, I remember my approach to writing music took a drastic turn from a kid who grew up emulating Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, Duke Ellington, to David Sanchez, Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton (Payton's Place).
Your teaching approach:
My approach to teaching music is understanding the basic necessities, teaching how and why is it important to know it, and show them how you can take it further than that, simply because you know the basics.
Voicing Harmonies: The basic necessity in voicing harmonies, are the three notes which gives it its identity. Root 3rd 7th. Root = Name, 3rd = Gender, 7th = Ethnicity. Root = Willerm Delisfort, 3rd = Male, 7th = African American, What else do the cops need?!?!?
The root tells you the foundation.
The 3rd tells you whether it's Major or Minor, (There is no other tonality)
The 7th determines the extensions of the root.
Everything else is simply color, doesn't make it wrong or right, just identifies you with your creativity.
Your dream band:
Ahhh, this is a question that the guys and I always have on tour or a road trip. If I could ever work with Nicholas Payton that would be a treat. I have always been a big fan of trumpet players, I don't know why, but I am a huge fan.
Nevertheless, my dream band would be (as far as musicians with us today); Rodney Whitaker(bass), Tim Warfield (tenor sax), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Brian Blade (drums). Wow that was a really hard one.
As far as my dream group (musicians no longer with us); Ed Thigpen(Drums), Ray Brown (Bass). Keeping it trio so I can have them all to myself.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Lol, one funny story was when I was on the road with my quintet, playing at a Club in Cincinnati, OH called the Loft Society. We are traveling with our bags and equipment all in a jeep, therefore we had to also load a few things like our clothes and my keyboard stand on the roof of the car. We are driving on I60 (I think), from Chicago to Cincinnati, and we all are in the car just laughing and joking when you hear "pak pak pak pak."It was the cord that we was to tie everything up got loose and everything fell off. Being that it was tons of trucks driving by extremely fast, and 3am in the morning we had to take a moment and stop and think "Do we want to go back for these clothes?!?" Therefore Christopher R. McBride (sax), says he's gonna go and grab them. Jumps out the jeeps which is a 2door by the way, runs out and grabs the clothes, which all landed together on the curb perfectly aligned!!! Except my keyboard stand :-( Chris and the rest of the band tried to give me hope about the stand saying things like "It's ok, we can still get it man," while they are saying this all you hear "BOOM, PAK, BAMM!!!" which was my keyboard being run over constantly by several trucks...
Wow, as a sideman so far the best venue I have played with has been Yoshi's in San Francisco. They have a great nine-foot Steinway, picked out by McCoy Tyner. I think the piano alone is the reason why there is no doubt in my mind.
Now as a leader this is hard, because there are club like The Loft Society in Cincinnati has like the best crowd, complete respect, they have a great time. Then there's B'Sharps Jazz Cafe in Tallahassee, FL by Geraldine & Clarence Seay (bassist), great club, business, and just got a great Baby Grand Yamaha which feels great on the hands.. Van Dyke Cafe in Miami, The Velvet Lounge in Chicago, heck I love them all and can't wait to go back really.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Oscar Peterson, My Favorite Instrument, without a shadow of doubt. This was my first album that I ever bought, and wore out. It's all a solo album of him playing, being new to jazz at the time, what I love about Oscar Peterson is the fact that you will always hear him play a standard. He made it easy to relate with him because of this.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Oscar Peterson, My Favorite Instrument.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
My testimony in life through my music.
Did you know...
English was my second language growing up, Creole was my first.
CDs you are listening to now:
Robert Glasper, Double Book;
Terence Blanchard, Choices;
Stefon Harris, Urbanus;
Willerm Delisfort, Freedom Riders.
Desert Island picks:
Oscar Peterson, My Favorite Things;
Miles Davis, Kinda Blue (Blue Note) ;
Wynton Marsalis, Black Codes;
RH Factor , Distractions ;
McCoy Tyner, The Real McCoy (Blue Note) ;
Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage (Blue Note) ;
Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil (Blue Note).
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I have heard so many amazing musicians to even use words like, down, dead, dying, slow. It's alive, and kicking hard, just trying to get people to invest in it again like they use to. Musicians are pouring their hearts out everyday in the clubs and on their albums, it doesn't get any better....Plus we are not degrading you either, sounds like a win to me!!
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Support, and keep supporting!!
What is in the near future?
Well I just released my new album, Freedom Riders, in September 2009 and completed my album release tour "Freedom Riders Tour." The shows are posted on my podcast, which is free on iTunes, "Willerm Delisfort Project."
I'm in the middle of three projects right now, one of which is the virtuoso guitarist Fareed Haque, Milton Suggs, and Patrick Terbrack. Please keep a look out for those upcoming amazing albums.
With my quintet (Willerm Delisfort Project) we have some more upcoming shows in Dec, Jan, Feb, therefore join the mailing list www.wdelisfort.com for more details about them.
During the day I am usually writing charts for hire. I have a small production that I am doing WDelisfort Music, and basically people who like the arrangements that I do for my quintet or other bands, would contact me (www.wdelisfort.com) explaining they need a chart (Marching Band, Choir, Jazz Combo, Large Ensemble etc..) due to the amount work needed to complete, I send them an invoice and write it for them. Pretty simple day job :-)
Full Name: Song Title: Key: Style: Instrumentation: Notes:
Send information from Contact Page on www.wdelisfort.com.
If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
A Marine Biologist, most definitely...or president!!! HA laugh at me now teachers!!!!!!!!!