Sandro Albert: A Bard’s Journey
AAJ: Moving on, I have said to you that you come from one of the finest guitar traditions in the world and that you are connected to the long line of majestic guitarists from Laurindo Almeida and those who came before him as well as to the bandolim players. Would you say that is true?
SA: I guess so. The first time I saw Laurindo de Almeida was in a Jazz Festival in Brazil called Free Jazz. He came to the stage by himself and blew everybody's mind with his beautiful touch. Another incredible player we hadand I find a good connection with his musicis Anibal Augusto Sardinha, "O Garoto," as he was called was an incredible guitarist who played all over Brazil and the world between the '30s and the early '50s. He died in 1955.
From left: Dave Carpenter, Sandro Albert
AAJ: Who were you listening to when you first started working on your guitar technique seriously?
SA: All those guys I did mention above, Wes, Garoto, Laurindo, plus Grant Green, Jimmy Wyble, George Van Eps, Pat Metheny, some sax players like Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson.
AAJ: When did you find your own voice? What helped put it all together for you? Did it happen when you were working out a particularly difficult passage of a song?
SA: I think when I got my first deal to record I went deep into composition and I did find it to be like DNA. We all have something that is radically different from each other. You just have to discover it. In my opinion, the best exercise to discover it is by composing. Antonio Carlos Jobim used to write one song a day and in the end of the month he would keep one and would throw 29 in the trash can, just to describe how important it is. That's a good way to start to compare yourself with yourself and find your voice within.
AAJ: You play with such warmth and such passionever thought of doing a solo album (like Ralph Towner of Oregon)? Or maybe, just a duet with someone like Jimmy Haslip, with just a bassist? How about Nilson Matta?
SA: Vertical, my new record, was supposed to be a solo record, just for guitar. After I wrote all 13 songs I was ready to record it solo. My producer Brian McKenna started to sell me the idea of writing counterpoint for bass and flute and I got into it. I guess the possibility is still out there for a solo project.
I have some recordings with Dave Carpenter in a duo setting that were never released. Any of those players you mentioned would be nice for sure to work with. I have worked a lot with Haslip, never had the pleasure to work or meet Nilson Matta but it would be nice if it happens.
AAJ: Have you thought of doing an album with strings? Judging by how well you wrote the parts for the reeds, percussion and piano on your last album, that surely would be very rewarding.
SA: I have a record with a quartet of strings and woodwinds, big band all in one project called A Beautiful Cloudy Day. You can find it on iTunes and other digital sites. It was never released here in the USA but it will be soon as a back catalog. It's with Dave Carpenter on bass, Cassio Duarte on percussion, Katisse Buckingham on sax and a great singer from Brazil name Zé Renato from the vocal group Boca Livré.
AAJ: What was it like to learn from Jimmy Wyble?
SA: Three years before I moved from Los Angeles to New York, I had the honor to meet and become friends with Jimmy Wyble. He was one of most beautiful human beings I have ever met in my life. Not just that, but an incredible musician and an example of a great man.
A memorable story, one day we were watching a guitarist playing really fast in a club in LA and Jimmy looked at me and said "Oh, boy, he can play really fast...and he better not stop." I thought that was really funny and a wise comment.
Then, a month before his passing we exchanged some music and I have a picture of him holding my daughter's photo in his hands. He sent me one of his studies and wrote in the back: "Sandro I use this scale and its variations a lotC, D, Eb, F#, G#, A, B." What a gift! From there I wrote two songs on Vertical, "JW's Baiao" and "The Medusa," with that scale in mind.
AAJ: How did you discover that you and Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip had a special bond?
SA: Jimmy was part of my first record Soulful People and after that we started playing very often together. When I played at The North Sea Jazz Festival in 2002 we invited Russell to play with my quintet, after that we started to also work often in different projects together. Luis Conte also was a guy that helped me a lot in my early days in LA.
AAJ: Now that you have moved to New Yorkgone "Vertical," so to Speakwhat plans do you have for your musical near future?
SA: We just had a great night at Iridium at the record release party. We packed the place on both sets. Vertical is getting good reviews, I just got signed with a great agent, Eric Hanson from Treelawn, and we hope to get really busy soon.