Take Five With Walter Beltrami

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Walter Beltrami:

Studied performance and jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. Graduated in performance at Musikhochschule Luzern, CH. Three released CDs as a leader with Philology, CamJazz and Re:think-art records. Won the Luca Flores Jazz Price as best Italian soloist at Barga Jazz 2004 and one of the eight finalists world-wide of the first Gibson Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition in Montreux. I've performed with Claudio Puntin, Francesco Bearzatti, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Markku Ounaskari, Giovanni Guidi, Dan Kinzelman, and many others, in Italy, Spain, Germany, USA, Switzerland and Austria.

Instrument(s): Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences? I studied with artists including Mick Goodrick, Jon Damian, Ed Tomassi, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Christy Doran, Frank Moebus.

Musical influences include Joe Henderson, Debussy, Jimi Hendrix, Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Bobo Stenson, John Scofield, Sam Rivers, Christian Wallumrod, John Abercrombie, Led Zeppelin and J.S.Bach.

Other influences: Borges, Rilke, Pessoa, Cesare Pavese.

Some movies: almost all by Ingmar Bergman, The Mirror and Solaris by Tarkovsky, Come and See by Elem Klimov, The third part of the night by Zulawsky, Mullholland Drive by Lynch.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I first went to a Dire Straits concert. I was just a kid but I fell in love immediately with the guitar and its sound.

Your sound and approach to music: I am really concerned about sound. I try to explore a lot of sound combination on my instruments in order to incorporate them in a logical and musical way in my playing as a whole. To me these nuances are like shadows in photography. A picture with all plain lights is not that interesting!

I like music when it is fresh and original, regardless of genres, in the sense of very personal and not obvious. I like taking risks even if this can sometimes result in a lower grade of perfection, but when it works, I think you can create something really unique and unpredictable.

Your teaching approach: Master your instrument, harmony and all concepts very seriously. Transcribe and most of all listening to all kind of music. Then leave everything out when you play and try to be "there" as best and totally as you can.

Your dream band: When I put together a band I always try to build it exactly as my dream band would be :) I think of some musicians and I call them. If they answer the call, then the dream comes true. If they don't, well, everybody knows that some dreams must remain dreams.

Apart from some of musicians I involved already in my projects, who I really wished to work with, I really love some musicians like Arve Henriksen, Anders Jormin, Tomasz Stanko, Paul Motian, Mark Feldman and Joey Baron.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Once I was playing at the Lago Maggiore Jazz Festival in Italy, in a very nice area close to this beautiful lake unfortunately full of mosquitoes. It was terrible. It was summer, terribly hot and on stage, the mosquitoes literally ate us. I still wonder how we could finish the concert.

Favorite venue: Re:think Jazz Festival in Brescia, Italy. Very nice program, great acoustics thanks to sound engineer Stefano Amerio, and great audience.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I guess the new one, Timoka. It's a project which I dedicated to Ingmar Bergman. It took me almost four years to write and develop the compositions and the magic of some of the takes is really unique for me. Piccoli numeri, my last record, for its intimate quality and its freshness, will also be always one of my favorites.

The first Jazz album I bought was: I don't remember but the first I loved was Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I try to record and gives life to the sound world I have in mind. It is always asking to come out so I write and play out of this urgency. I'm always trying to make the music that I would like to find and listen, not trying to copy some styles or being concerned about commercial thinking while making music. When I manage to do it, it is always a great joy and satisfaction! Something nothing else can give me

Did you know... I love cinema and for many years I have been planning to shoot my first short movie. Maybe now's the time...

CDs you are listening to now: On my car CDs are changing everyday... I couldn't say...

Desert Island picks: So difficult to say. I guess that in such a situation probably I would prefer the silence of the island where I could always listen all my song stored in my memory.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Many facilities and so many talented young players but very often a lack of real ideas and real projects. Many musicians seem to me very comfortable with not making music which they really feel is urgent.

What is in the near future? Apart from my Timoka Quartet and the next live concerts with them to present the new CD I am very happy about a new group, my quintet, featuring Markku Ounaskari on percussion, Fausto Beccalossi on accordion, Salvatore Maiore on cello and Roberto Bordiga on double-bass.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Film director, but definitely not a Hollywood one.

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