European Jazz: an espresso with Franco Ambrosetti

May 7, 2019

European Jazz

We have interviewed the great Swiss trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti after the publishing of his autobiography “La scelta di non scegliere” (Choosing not to choose).

How much has being an entrepreneur helped you in being a musician, and how much has being a musician helped in being an entrepreneur?
Like anyone, being a musician and starting from the bottom as a young trumpet player means learning that until you have a name, you don’t really count for much on the artistic circuits. You’re just another guy, getting starvation wages, staying in slums, traveling in the lowest classes, etc. This experience teaches the entrepreneur to listen to and watch the others around, whether co-workers or employees, from different perspectives. It increases your social sensitivity and creates a mentality that fosters creativity and passion for what you’re doing. It would be a great experience for anyone in Human Resources. Being an entrepreneur, on the other hand, teaches you the rigors, discipline, organization, and how to deal with and solve the problems that come up along your journey as a musician. It can also help in the financial negotiations with managers, record labels, promoters, and others.
“La Scelta di Non Scegliere” (Choosing not to choose) is a wonderful title. Can you explain it to us?
For a lot of years, I found myself confronted with a dilemma. To become a musician or to finish university and go into the family business. After I won the Vienna Competition organized by Friedrich Gulda and got a 4 year scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston it seemed that a decision was inevitable. And it was. I choose not to choose, to follow both professions. Even not choosing is a choice.
In general, and in being a musician, what is more important? Determination or luck?
Determination is fundamental. It’s the driving force that pushes you no matter what. Luck will happen. But it favors those who are determined and optimistic. Those who believe the glass is half full, not half empty. Nihilists don’t usually have a lot of luck.

“Nihilists don’t usually have a lot of luck!”

You’ve had a very long and wonderful career. Do you still have a dream you wish would come true?
I have a dream which will come true by the end of the year. To record a ballads CD in duet with 4 or 5 different pianists. I’ll share their names when I’ve contacted all of them. But I still have a couple of dreams in reserve. To record my compositions with a Big Band and to record with a symphony orchestra.

In this book, the history of music is also the history of family. How important is family in life?
Family is so important! They stand by your side; they support you in your choices. This is true for both the family you come from (parents, grandparents) as well as your own family (spouse, children, grandchildren). Mine has supported me so much!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I know that I’ve had a privileged life. I was able to follow two careers because I come from a family of entrepreneurs who tolerated my absence while I was pursuing my music. For those who are born with artistic talent but don’t have the same possibilities that I had, I’d suggest to stay in school as long as possible. At least through highschool. Then, if they decide to become musicians, go to a music school (a conservatory and/or a jazz academy). Play with other, better musicians. Be consistent and disciplined in the study of a musical instrument. If, in the end, should they discover that music is not for them, they can change and continue their studies and get a diploma or degree.
An espresso with…Franco Ambrosetti copyright Jazzespresso 2019.
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