Meet Mark Corroto

AAJ Staff By

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I currently live in: Delaware, Ohio.

I joined All About Jazz in: 1999

What made you decide to contribute to All About Jazz? AAJ has a "No-Snobs" approach to jazz that tolerates both the Wynton neo-moldy figs, my free jazz and avant leanings, fusion, and even some rock.

How do you contribute to All About Jazz? I'm a senior writer (that means I'm old) writing CD reviews, occasional live reviews, and an (almost) monthly column "We Travel The Spaceways," that focuses on fringe jazz and improvisational music that too often falls through the cracks.

What is your musical background? After my 6th grade catholic school flute-o-phone concert performance, I decided to become a jazz drummer in the mold of Buddy Rich who I'd seen in a drum solo battle with my then movie star hero Jerry Lewis. Unfortunately, my parents wouldn't buy me the entire kit, and all I got was a small practice pad. Needless to say, I quit my lessons thinking I'd become a critic some, 20 years later.

What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today? George Harrison's The Concert for Bangladesh (Columbia, 1971). Harrison's explorations beyond The Beatles, opened my world to Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, and Billy Preston, and by extension, the blues, world music, and John Coltrane.

What type of jazz do you enjoy listening to the most? Anything but smooth jazz, which is perhaps, an oxymoron.

Aside from jazz, what styles of music do you enjoy? Old (really old) school Hip-hop (kids—we called it "rap music"), noise artists such as Merzbow and Lasse Marhaug, and the pioneers of new wave—Joe Strummer and Billy Bragg, ska and dub. Also, lately I've taken to listening to the music of Mono, Explosions In The Sky, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

What are you listening to right now? José James No Beginning No End (Blues Note, 2012)

Which five recent releases would you recommend to readers who share your musical taste? Functional Arrhythmias (Pi Recordings) by Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (BAG, 2013) by Ben Goldberg, Exit! (Rune Grammofon, 2013) by Fire! Orchestra, New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation, 2013) by Colin Stetson.

What inspired you to write about jazz? When you listen to jazz, meaning not mainstream music, you are somehow ghettoed. Writing connects me to other exiled listeners and musicians.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies? I'm a masters' road bicycle competitor (that's me on the far left above) and have a passion for red wines.

What role does jazz music play in your life? It is my refuge from the world, my commute companion, and a reminder that through communication, cooperation and especially, improvisation anything is possible.

How does writing about jazz contribute to the music itself? It helps spread the gospel.

What do you like most about All About Jazz? It's democracy and diversity, all in the true sense of the words. The umbrella here is big. Don't like John Zorn? Check out Joe Lovano or the Rebirth Brass Band, there's plenty of room inside for all musical tastes.

What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz? As a reader, I've been introduced to new musicians and new sounds. As a writer, I've made some great friendships with publicists, like the legendary Ann Braithwaite. Talked business with small label owners, and drank beers with musicians. I've helped coordinate concerts and gigs (sometimes in my own living room) for players like Jack Wright, Peter Brötzmann, Pete McCann, Axel Dorner, and Bhob Rainey. I've written liner notes for Ken Vandermark and Pete Mills. All of which, I hope perpetuates this thing called jazz.

Mark Corroto at All About Jazz


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