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Take Five With Patricia Velasquez

Patricia Velasquez By

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Meet Patricia Velasquez:
Patricia Velasquez began classical piano lessons at the age of four. In Junior High, she began to study jazz. She attended Berklee College of Music in 1987. She has performed at Stepping Out with the South Central Mass Choir; at Ryles for a blues reunion with Shirley Lewis and guests; at the Acton Jazz Cafe, and at Sculler's with the Pat Braxton Band. She has also played with Joe Cook.

Instrument(s):
Piano.

Teachers and/or influences?
My first piano teacher ever was Mr. Dunz Ridell. I was heartbroken when he moved away. Ms. Violet Banks was my classical piano teacher; she taught Victoria Page. My major classical influence at the time was Liberace.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I knew I wanted to be a musician when I was three years old. The family that my parents worked for had a grand piano, and I would sit at it for hours, picking out melodies, just enjoying myself.

Your sound and approach to music:
My sound is purely acoustic. No matter what I play, it must be melodic, whether it is simple or complicated.

Your teaching approach:
When it comes to my students, quality is what comes to mind. I believe it is important for them to know the history of the music they are learning. They are the musicians of the future, should they pursue it as a career; they are also the audiences of tomorrow. I believe in teaching them that there are no shortcuts—one must practice in order to progress and be successful.

Your dream band:
I would love to work with Christian McBride, Delfeayo Marsalis, and Roy Haynes.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
My road story: I was booked to play Blues Alley with Pat Braxton and her band. We drove down to Washington, D.C. the morning of, went sightseeing, played a great gig and drove back right after we played! Needless to say we were all exhausted, even though we took turns driving. It was a great experience, but next time I vote for flying!

Favorite venue:
The best gig I have ever played was Sculler's Jazz club in Boston; they really accommodated us well. Our dressing room was a hotel room with all the fixings. The piano was just tuned, and the tuner stayed to make last-minute adjustments! Needless to say, the sound check went well.

I like that club, it is nice and intimate; no matter where you sit in the audience, you will get a nice view of the band.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
I love Oscar Peterson's Reunion Blues, with Roy Hargrove—it really swings!

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Thelonious Monk, The LRC Jazz Classics with John Ore, Charlie Rouse, and Frankie Dunlop.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I think the most important thing I am contributing musically is not letting jazz die. I feel that we can be innovative with it, while not allowing it to lose its integrity.

CDs you are listening to now:
McCoy Tyner, McCoy Tyner Quintet (HalfNote);
Ahmad Jamal, Live At Blues Alley;
Kevin Harris, Freedom (Doxology);
Oscar Peterson, Oscar Peterson Meets Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore (Telarc).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Two ways: innovative and in a state of peril. Innovative, in the way that artists such as the Marsalis' and Chick Corea, and Jason Moran have taken it to a new level without losing its integrity; in other words, not watering it down. I say in a state of peril, because what some are now classifying as jazz is really not jazz.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Some of the essential requirements to keep Jazz alive and growing are listening to the original artists who were the pioneers, studying their style to learn their approach and incorporating it into your own expression.

What is in the near future?
The South Central Mass Choir is working on a new CD. Pat Braxton is also working on her second CD, which will feature my original, "Be All You Are." We will also be performing in Londonderry, New Hampshire Sunday, October 23rd at the South School.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Perhaps a concert pianist!

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