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Take Five With Scott Feiner

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Scott Feiner:

Scott Feiner's musical story is not a common one. Not only is he an American pandeiro player, but he also introduced this Brazilian hand drum to the world of jazz in a highly personal way. A native of New York City, Feiner received a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies/Guitar at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, where he studied jazz history with the legendary saxophonist Jackie McLean.

In the early '90s, he was a respected guitarist in the New York Jazz scene, but in 1999, during his first trip to Brazil, Feiner discovered the pandeiro, the instrument which would become his passion and new means of musical expression. He moved to Rio de Janeiro in 2001 and after only a few years became a respected "pandeirista," playing in the traditional settings of Rio. However, it is Feiner's innovative mixture of the pandeiro with jazz which has set him apart. His first CD, Pandeiro Jazz(Delira Musica, 2006), received international praise and his second CD, Dois Mundos (Biscoito Fino, 2008), was nominated for a 2009 Latin Grammy Award.

Accents, his third CD will be released by the Zoho label in November, 2010. Feiner performs regularly at festivals and clubs worldwide with various versions of his group, based in New York City and Rio de Janeiro.

He is also known for being an ambassador of the pandeiro, introducing people to the instrument around the world through his workshops as well as via the site, which he founded.



Teachers and/or influences? Back when I was a guitarist it was a different list of names. In terms of pandeiro players, Jorginho do Pandeiro, Celsinho Silva and Marcos Suzano have all been influences. Also, Sergio Krakowski opened my eyes to some things. But a lot of the way I play is influenced by drummers as well—Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, dnd so many others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... Sort of embarrassing, but my earliest memory of wanting to play music was when I was 10 years old and listening to the rock band Kiss. I begged my mother for a drum set, but it didn't happen. I believe I was 15 and a couple of years into the guitar when I knew I wanted to be a musician.

Your sound and approach to music: For me, music has always been primarily about feel, groove and melody. As a pandeiro player playing jazz, I try to create a feeling of "roundness" and "looseness" on an instrument which is inherently dry and staccato. For composing, I just try to be as natural and honest as possible.

Your teaching approach: I taught guitar for years and that was one thing. But now that I teach pandeiro, I try to teach it sort of the way I learned it—more about listening and watching than from writing out exercises, etc.

Your dream band:

I'm pretty sure my fourth CD will be trio with pandeiro/guitar/keyboards. It's something I've been experimenting with a lot live, and have composed with this sound in mind. There are several players I have in mind, but I'm not going to name names here.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Playing a concert in Rio de Janeiro and a couple of old ladies kept yelling out to playing something they knew. It turned into quite a scene when people started telling them to shut up. At the end of the show they came up to the stage and said to me and the pianist, "you two are really good." Then they turned to the bassist and saxophonist and said, "but not you two."

Favorite venue:

There are a few I should mention, but one that stands out was Fasching in Stockholm, Sweden. The chef made us a great meal and took great photos of the gig. The sound man not only recorded the gig, but dropped off a CD at the hotel for me the next day.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? That's hard. Each one has special moments for me.

The first Jazz album I bought was: I can't remember, but I have very special memories of shopping for LPs (and then CDs) at Tower Records in NYC. Those OJC (Original Jazz Classics) special sales they used to have.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? As far as I know I'm the first pandeiro player to use it exclusively in a jazz context. I suppose I'm playing a part in introducing the instrument to new audiences.

Did you know...

I was a jazz guitarist in NYC in the early '90s.

CDs you are listening to now:

Mayra Andrade, Navega;

Brad Mehldau, Anything Goes;

Aretha Franklin, Jazz to Soul;

Cartola, Cartola;

Kurt Rosenwinkel, Enemies of Energy.

Desert Island picks:

Miles Davis, Someday My Prince Will Come;

Joao Gilberto, The Legendary Joao Gilberto;

Stevie Wonder, Talking Book;

Frank Sinatra / Count Basie, A Historic Musical First;

Steely Dan, Aja.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Complicated, business-wise, but definitely lots of great playing going on.


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