Take Five With Steve Blanco

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Steve Blanco:

I play piano, compose, make films, write scripts and do odd jobs for dough ($$).


Piano, drums.

Teachers and/or influences?

There are too many to list.

Two piano teachers that I feel I learned from would be George Mancini, Charles Blenzig and Jean-Michel Pilc. They were giants of help and wisdom at times when I needed much help with many aspects of my life. I will never forget those times.

Influences would be anything from Glenn Gould to Thelonious Monk to Slayer and much more...

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

I first heard a record my father had of Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring. I listened to it over and over and over...

Your sound and approach to music:

My sound is inspired by the life I live filled with sadness, madness, good times, goodbyes, life & death, love & hate, anger, the Travis Bickle dilemma, and the ultimate goal—peacefulness.

My approach to the piano in particular is fundamentally like the drums, which can be manipulated with these incredible things called chords then voiced in certain ways as to conjure up feelings, then when I'm really in the driver's seat and all is good some sweet and tasty melody, which is extremely important to my soul and I connect with deeply, but it a simplistic and universal way.

Your teaching approach:

Teaching is very important to me. I remember certain teachers I had and they have had an enormous impact on me, and I still think of them often. I hope to leave the same impression with my students and I enjoy sharing all the knowledge I have and still am accumulating about music.

Your dream band:

I already have my dream bands as I am very lucky to play with the musicians I play with. I would've liked to play duo with Bill Evans.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I like to remember the 420 calzone joint in the middle of a freezing upstate New York.

Favorite venue:

I would have to say Domaine Wine Bar in LIC Queens NYC because we get treated very nicely, our music is appreciated and it has been a great place to work out for the past two and half years.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I like all of them. Each represents a particular time and feeling.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

I don't remember. Probably a Chick Corea album.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I like to think that I'm making a moment in someone's life more enjoyable when they listen to me play. Peacefulness and a connection and a cultural contribution to the community.

CDs you are listening to now:

Ahmad Jamal, The Awakening (Impulse);

Slayer, South Of Heaven (Def Jam);

Ligeti, Chamber Concerto for 13 Instrumentalists (DG);

Yngwie Malmsteen, Rising Force (Polydor);

Medeski, Martin & Wood, Shack Man (Gramavision);

Metallica, Master of Puppets (Elektra).

Desert Island picks:

Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations (1981 version) (Columbia).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Jazz could use a bit more exposure and venues could incorporate some more lesser known and new musicians into their rosters. It needs to be played well.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

I'm not sure. Is it really growing anymore?

Venues—Stop alienating the musicians. Speak to a musician who is trying to perform at your space, especially if he has been making contact attempts for ten years. Sure there are plenty of terrible musicians out there, but there are plenty of great ones just getting shut out.

What is in the near future?

My new band El Chico Blanco will hopefully be performing more. I'd like to play some elegant duo concerts with Adam Roberts and make a new Steve Blanco Trio album, plus direct a feature film from a script I have written.

By Day:

I do gigs, teach, record tracks, help songwriters, clean trash, paint, video shoots and editing, odd jobs...just about anything that I can get paid for in order to feed my piano addiction.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

I would be a filmmaker or a writer. I think writing a novel would be a monumental achievement. It would be a different medium, but the process would be largely the same and that is always what determines my level of satisfaction in this crazy life! Peace and calmness with good things and gratefulness that music exists in the world.


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