Take Five With Marzio Scholten

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Marzio Scholten: Marzio Scholten (1982, Granollers, Spain) is regarded as one of the most talented and promising modern jazz guitarists and composers in The Netherlands. In 2006, he graduated from the renowned Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he studied with Jesse van Ruller, Yuri Honing and many others. Motherland, his critically acclaimed debut as a leader, was released in 2008. With this album he has proven to be one of Holland's leading jazz guitarists.

In 2009, Marzio was nominated for the prestigious Deloitte Jazz Award, and selected as Artist Deserving Wider Recognition, by . In 2010 his new album, World Of Thought, will be released. This new album contains appearances by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Stefan Lievestro, pianist Randal Corsen, saxophonist Yaniv Nachum and drummer Bob Roos.

Marzio has played his music on many stages and festivals in The Netherlands and abroad. Some examples: North Sea Jazz Festival, Bimhuis, Vredenburg, Royal Theatre Carré en The Hague Jazz. His international tours have led him to Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Athens, Nicosia, Kosovo, Miami (USA) and Mexico City.



Teachers and/or influences? I studied and graduated at the Conservatory of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), where I was fortunate enough to study with a few a the greatest guitarists in Europe; Jesse van Ruller, Martijn van Iterso and Maarten van der Grinten. Besides these guys I am heavily influenced by all sorts of music and art, not only jazz. I love indie rock music, for instance, especially the Brooklyn scene nowadays.

As far as modern jazz goes, I really enjoy listening to David Binney, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel and their contemporaries. Somehow, I tend to listen more to saxophone players than guitarists, for whatever reason that may be. Besides music, I am also influenced by great writers like Haruki Murakami and Jonathan S. Foer, and love movies as well. Art and life in general are the main influences, I guess.

Your sound and approach to music: When I write music, first and foremost I try to write music that I would like to listen to myself. I also like having a deeper layer within my compositions, without forcing it; something the audience might or might not get, depending on how well they listen—some sort of food for thought. It's not something I think of while writing, it comes naturally.

Something that is important to me as well is the sound of the composition, the color of the music; I want to be surrounded by the music, like a bath of sound.

My guitar sound became what it is now in a very natural way, through trial and error. Since I was a little kid I have used delay on my guitar, so effects have gradually become a natural part of the sound. Of course, I have given some thought to the way I use it live and on recordings. It is an ongoing process of trying to reach for that sound you hear in your head. I believe I am getting closer to that sound. Most importantly, I think the sound comes from within myself, my hands, fingers. It is a cliché, but it is true.

Your dream band:

I always try to surround myself with musicians that inspire me and can force me to greater heights musically. Playing with the same group for a really long time makes me feel like I'm restricting myself, so I keep changing things around to keep it fresh and exciting, although a steady base is really important to let the music grow. So, I try to have a steady band for a couple of years and then see where it goes naturally.

What is important to me is to play with musicians that have the same musical mindset, and have an immediate connection with the music we're playing. The music just asks for certain musicians, and when the time is right, I ask them to join the band. I'm fortunate enough to have a great band right now, and am looking forward to playing with these guys and being inspired by them for the next couple of years. So in that way, the band I have right now is my dream band.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? My discography is not really extensive yet. My debut album, Motherland, was released in 2008, and my new album, World Of Thought, is coming out this year, on October 2nd, 2010. This album features Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Yaniv Nachum on tenor saxophone, Randal Corsen on piano, Stefan Lievestro on bass and Bob Roos on drums. World Of Thought is definitely my favorite recording, because of the way that it has come really close to the musical vision I had at the time of recording it. I'm really proud of this record.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? While studying jazz, or just listening to jazz, we are constantly confronted with the huge musical history and the legacy that a lot of great musicians have left us.

It is important to be aware of this, to study it... and then to let go of it and go our own way. To keep the jazz alive and growing, I think we have to realize that those great musicians from the history of jazz were pioneers themselves and brought new influences to jazz all the time. While writing music of your own I think it is important to stay true to yourself, also be aware of the music you grew up with and the music that inspires you right now and let that be a part of your music, without losing sight of its history and without forcing it. It is difficult to find your own voice, definitely with the "jazz police" watching. I think I am on the right path right now, and can see my music growing more and more into the music I really feel connected with.

But it is a long process. As long as we keep trying this I think jazz will keep growing and it will be just fine.

What is in the near future? Coming months we will be touring around The Netherlands with the Marzio Scholten Group, promoting World Of Thought. I am really looking forward to playing this material live, as well as some new stuff, and seeing how it will evolve in the next couple of months. Next year I hope to return to South America for some tours (we had a great tour in Mexico this year); we are working on that. After that, I don't really know yet, I have a few projects in mind which I'd like to record and I am writing new stuff already, but I'll have to see which way it will go. I'm definitely focused on playing with the Marzio Scholten Group right now and next year as well.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Marzio Scholten

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