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Take Five With Alejandro Florez

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Alejandro Florez:

Guitarist Alejandro Florez earned a Master's degree in Jazz Performance and Composition from the University of North Texas before moving to NYC. He now performs in various jazz and Colombian bands, and works as a composer/arranger, session player and educator. Alejandro's current projects include "Tibagui," which performs his original music; the Alejandro Florez Trio, with which he performs original jazz; the free improvisation trios "Apama" and "Torus," and the quartet "Trichrome Roach"; and the Gallo/Florez Duo, a group that explores the traditional music of the Colombian Andes in an improvisational end experimental setting. Retrato, featuring his band Tibagui, is his first record as producer and composer. The Latin American edition of Rolling Stone Magazine called the album "flawless from start to finish" and "indispensable." Alejandro's song "Cansao," featured on the album, was selected as a Finalist at the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest.



Teachers and/or influences?

Musically, my biggest influences have been teachers and peers from my native Colombia. They hold a pretty open conception of what music is. This has been an open invitation for me to mess with music in as many ways as possible. As far as non-musical influences, my family is a big part of things. I've been reading Naom Chomsky and, more recently, Kurt Vonnegut, and I intend to do a lot more of that.

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

I had an incredibly vivid dream about all six of Bach's cello suites playing through my head. It turned out the tape was on repeat all night.

Your sound and approach to music:

To explore every expressive alternative that is compelling to you until you've presented a complete picture of yourself, I believe is the thing to do.

Your teaching approach:

Guitar students usually start with a really narrow idea of what music is, and I try to widen it. How I do that depends on many things, like the student's level or his/her interest. But one thing that is common to all my lessons is my desire that the students be able to understand intellectually what goes on, that they be challenged technically and that they may enjoy the music they're preparing.

Your dream band:

A band where, after many rehearsals and gigs, the musicians will come back ready to challenge each other to be more sensitive and reactive, while still having the guts to say when they don't like something. A long-term association would be indispensable.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

John Coltrane's Blue Train.

Did you know...

I studied to become an engineer for a year and a half in college before switching majors.

CDs you are listening to now:

Andrew Hill, Time Lines (Blue Note);

John Coltrane, Sun Ship (Impulse!);

Ornette Coleman, At The Golden Circle (vol. 1) (Blue Note);

Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Lawrence Casserley, Dividuality (Maya Records);

Brasil Guitar Duo, Bom Partido (CAG Records).

By Day:

I teach guitar, play with other musicians and take care of my son.


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