Take Five With Luca Luciano

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Meet Luca Luciano: Clarinetist and composer Luca Luciano is a "classically trained Italian virtuoso resident in London" (Jazz UK) who is also visiting lecturer of both jazz and classical clarinet at the Leeds College of Music and very much appreciated in the UK and overseas for his unique style (Jazz Journal International wrote about avant-garde) and the quality of his compositions. He is also quoted in books about the clarinet repertoire. He started his career at a very young age (only twelve) performing at one of the most prestigious and ancient concert halls of his hometown Naples and has appeared on television nationwide live, aged only twenty-one. He has accumulated experience in both the jazz and the classical fields, has a Bachelors in Music at the Conservatoire of Salerno (Italy), a 600-hour-post-graduate-course on music entrepreneurship founded by the E.C.C.

He is mainly active as leader/composer of his own projects and has held performances not only in jazz clubs and festivals in the UK and throughout Europe (Teignmouth South Devon Jazz Festival 2003/2005, which included the pianists Satoko Fujii and Stan Tracey; National Theater of London; London Jazz on the Streets Midsummer Festival; Politeama Theatre in Naples; Giugliano Jazz Festival 2001, which featured Mike Stern, Enrico Rava, Enrico Pierannunzi, etc.) but also within the classical field (Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; Lancaster Cathedral; Centro Studi Erich Fromm in Naples, etc.).

His technique and knowledge of both the jazz and the classical repertoire has allowed him to experience TV performances (recording for RTE national TV broadcast of Ireland, live nationwide at RAI2 as guest soloist and arranger, local TV programs); solid studio sessions; experience recording for several productions and also for Amnesty International and for the singer Sergio Bruni (arguably the most famous traditional Neapolitan singer in the world); orchestra (Cork Opera Works EIRE in 2005, at the Diana Theatre of Naples 1996/97/98); and chamber music.

Instrument(s): clarinet.

Teachers and/or influences? I feel I have learnt a lot from musicians/composers as diverse as Stravinsky, Poulenc, Debussy, Schoenberg, Mahler, David Liebman, Michael Brecker, Chick Corea and Charlie Parker.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I first performed aged twelve, and I realized I wanted to perform before an audience and, more important, I wanted to express myself through the music and my own compositions.

Your sound and approach to music: I do not like to stick labels on music, and therefore I don't like categorizing music in any sort of genre. I think of it as the utmost art expression of humankind, and I think of it as a whole. This is my approach which is aimed to give the chance to perform Copland as well as Coltrane, Tarantella, as well as Mozart.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky is definitely a masterpiece to me. It contains an advanced harmonic approach, and yet it is rhythmically challenging and melodically heartbreaking. I keep working on the orchestration of it, and there's always a new thing to learn.

How you use the internet to help your career? I use the net for any sort of research of contacts: art directors/promoters, journalists/media, etc. It is, to me, an endless resource of contacts and information and it gives me the chance to be in touch with people all around the world.

CDs you are listening to now: Besides the Rite of Spring mentioned before, I am back to some albums by Michael Brecker like Now You See It ... Now You Don't plus other French clarinetists.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? It feels to me that there's too much mainstream, and for it I mean every style and/or approach to jazz improvisation and composing that has been played and absorbed for so long, in the last decades to become too "commercial" in the attempt to please promoters and audiences and with the excuse that this is the jazz to be played.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Keep promoting and/or giving a chance to original and unique projects in order to not put jazz music in a "cage" or make it become a dead music that has to be played in a traditional almost folkloristic fashion, forgetting the lesson of masters like Parker, Coltrane, Mingus and others who were always trying to innovate and discover new sounds.

What is in the near future? I am planning to record a couple of albums. One includes only tracks for clarinet(s) like Sequenza for Clarinet solo, with plenty of improvisation, and some tracks for clarinet ensemble. Moreover I am looking into the chance to record another album accompanied by piano, as I have already written (and performed) the material. This is the "main" project that keeps touring the UK and, as we're planning, Europe.

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