Meet Perry Conticchio: Saxophonist and composer Perry Conticchio has built his 35-year career using the singular jazz sounds of the 1960s as a point of departure.
His formal studies were at Miami University of Ohio and Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied with Joe Viola, John LaPorta and Charley Mariano. Moving to the Washington, DC area in 1976, Perry became an established figure in the "new" music scene.
During this time he had the opportunity to perform with and learn from Don Cherry, Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers and many others. From 1994-1998 Perry was co-leader of the successful jazz quartet Clarity. Since then he has been leading his own quartet and contributing on projects with many area bands, including the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra. Perry has performed at many Washington area cultural events and nightclubs including The DC Jazz Festival, The Smithsonian Folk-Life Festival, Johns-Hopkins Spring Fest., Blues Alley, One Step Down, Twin's Jazz, The 9:30 Club and too many others to mention. He keeps a very busy private teaching schedule.
Instrument(s): saxophones, flute, bass clarinet.
Teachers and/or influences? Teachers: John La Porta, Joe Viola, Charlie Mariano, Don Cherry. Influences: too many to mention but tops would be John Coltrane, Sam Rivers (whom I had a chance to have a couple of lessons from), Stan Getz, Miles, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Cannonball, etc.
Your sound and approach to music: Group interaction and overall sound is everything. Listen, Listen, Listen. One instrument, two ears. You should be listening harder than you are playing. Tone/sound before technique.
Your teaching approach: Sound before technique. Find the right approach for each individual. Everyone learns a little differently.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?Speak Your Truth, mostly for the writing. I'm prouder of the overall product and its originality than my individual playing. I hope I can afford a larger band at times next time around.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? An original sound and attempting to always really play from the heart.
How you use the internet to help your career? Website and mailing lists are key.
CDs you are listening to now: Kenny Wheeler, What Now? (Cam Jazz); Paul Motian Band, Garden of Eden (ECM); Kenny Garrett, Beyond the Wall (Nonesuch); Pat Metheny & Brad Mehldau, Metheny/Mehldau (Nonesuch); Michael Brecker-all of it again!!
Desert Island picks: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse!); Miles Davis, Nefertiti (Columbia); Pat Metheny Group, Still Life Talking (Geffen, reissued Nonesuch); Stan Getz My Foolish Heart (Label M).
How would you describe the state of jazz today? Artistically speaking it is resurgent in a lot of ways. Financially dismal.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.