An espresso with…
Alessio Menconi

June 29, 2018

2018, may 26th Keystone Club Roppongi - Alessio Menconi (guitar), Yuki Arimasa (piano)

We are honored to interview Alessio Menconi on his first Jazz Tour in Japan. It is also the first time I meet one of the most prominent jazz guitarists from Italy.
 
 

Is this your first Asia Tour and the first time you play in Japan?
I went to Thailand and India for jazz festivals and other performances 14 years ago. But it’s my first tour to Tokyo and China. It is a packed but very exciting trip; my tour started from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Heifei, Anqing and Beijing. It is a very good time to play in China, where I see the energy for jazz is growing. And I will be touring in Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka for a few more concerts. 
 
Is it the first time you collaborate with Japanese musicians?
Yes, it is. My first time playing with Yuki and he is amazing.
 
 
Our Asia readers are not very familiar with Italian Jazz musicians; could you recommend a few great Italian jazz musicians to us?
There are many great Italian jazz musicians. Let me name a few: Enrico Pieranunzi (jazz pianist, composer, arranger), Andrea Pozza (jazz pianist), Maurizio Giammarco (jazz saxophonist) and Antonio Fusco (drummer).
 
Can you recommend one great jazz festival in Europe?
 
 
 
Is there a unique character of Italian jazz music? 
In America, it's easier to learn jazz music, because it's the hub of all the great players. In Italy, there are fewer jazz musicians compared to the States. Jazz music in the States is very dynamic and intense, sometimes it's very compacted, lots of time filled by different instruments; while Italian jazz music is more melodic, more chill and leaving space in the music.
 
What is your next project in Asia?
I don’t have a fix plan yet, but I would like to come again for concerts, workshops or playing at one of the Jazz Festivals in Japan.
 
 
You learnt music without a teacher when you were 10. Did you start with Jazz?
Were there any jazz records that inspired you at that time, that you still listen to now?I started with Rock, I was in love with the album 'Made in Japan' by Deep Purple. I wanted to learn Ritchie Blackmore’s solos, as well as blues rock groups like Cream and Led Zeppelin. Then I discovered Jazz Rock music. I was very curious about harmony and scale and the blues, eventually I fell in love with Jazz and bepop. At that time adults were listening to Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery, I fell in love with their music too, so I started to learn Jazz standards. The album that inspired me most is Wes Montgomery’s first Trio album. It was a trio with organ, guitar and drums, which is very special to me.
 
Which Jazz Rock player did you listen to?
I listened to “The Mahavishnu Orchestra. And “Spectrumis one of my favourite album too, which Billy Cobham is my idol. Later I got a chance to play with Billy, it was such a remarkable moment in my career that I was on stage with my idol!
 
 
Your Asia tour covered Hong Kong, China and Japan, do you feel there is a big difference in the way people appreciate jazz music?
Chinese audience has a lot of energy. Japanese audience is very serious and passionate about Jazz Live. They have lots of respect for the musicians. Even if it's only a casual, small jazz bar, I can feel their attention and appreciation towards the musicians.
 
 
Thank you Keystone Club, thank you Almer, the organizer. Alessio is very kind and I was very happy to meet Arimasa Yuki San again.
 
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