An espresso with…
Nicola Lancerotti

September 19, 2018

Italy Goes To Japan


We have interviewed Nicola Lancerotti on the eve of his Japanese tour.


You often play in Asia. What do you think about jazz in that area? And about Asian musicians?

My experience is limited to Taiwan and some cities in China, so I don’t feel I can give an opinion on all Asia, obviously. I have been regularly playing in Taiwan for the last 5 years, thanks to some friends I met at the Brussels Conservatory. During those years, I was able to play with Taiwanese and foreign musicians, and I absolutely can say that I witnessed a positive evolution in the musicians’ average quality. Probably, this is due to the fact that, for the last fifteen years or maybe more, Taiwanese musicians have been coming to Europe or to USA to study jazz in schools and conservatories and, once they’re back in their nation and they’ve become teachers, they can lead their students not only through their lessons, but also through their concerts. There’s still a little road ahead, from my point of view… I deem that some instruments are not taken much care of, and language and style are not always approached in an intellectually honest method. I can feel the hidden influence of a certain 90s jazz fusion style and a few references to, let’s say, the Oscar Peterson Trio, just to mention one, but I could have said Hank Mobley. But, indeed, there’s a group of decidedly valued musicians, I’m talking about Hsieh Min-Yen, Tseng Tseng-Yi, Tsai Wen-Hui, Shawna Yang, Chen Ying-Da, just to mention some. Musicians who not only have a very high musical training, but also an open mind allowing them to play a standard in an extremely personal way, as well as an original composition or free improvisation.
With China, I have a different relationship, as most of the time I played there in tour with European groups. Main scenes in China are two, Shanghai and Beijing, which are very different as far as expression is concerned. The one I deem I more belong to is with no doubt Beijing, where I am now. My affinity comes from the fact that, according to my experience, musicians in Beijing seem to me more open minded and willing to play many different musics, to open jazz to “other”, different interpretations. Noise avant-garde scene in Beijing is very strong and intense, and the city breathes a lot of culture. Here there is the largest part of the most interesting musicians on the Chinese scene, be they foreign or locals. Hangzhou, instead, deserves a special mention, as the city is slowly developing the scene around the Hangzhou JZ Club.
Have you already played in Tokyo? How does the city scene seem to you?
I will play in Tokyo for the first time on next September 21, so I have no experience there. Let’s talk about it in the next interview!
Is jazz cosmopolitan or does it play slightly different in the world?
Jazz is cosmopolitan AND it plays in a different way in the different parts of the world. Unavoidably, different scenes create different interpretations. In Brussels, for instance, the word “jazz” gathers musics which are extremely different from each other thanks to the fact that, in the last years, many musicians have been joining and meeting there, of all nationalities and origins.
What’s jazz, according to you?
It’s a music which gives priority to composition (in a wide sense), to improvisation and to playing together, by trying to go on, even if you know that, before you, giant musicians have given fundamental music lessons. The main thing should be not to try to catalogue jazz as jazz. Jazz is a changing music: Bix Beiderbecke, Art Pepper, Roscoe Mitchell, John Lewis, Mingus, Brubeck, Jon Hassell, Derek Bailey…
Which are your next projects?
My personal project is called SKIN and plays my music. The original project features Daniele Martini and Jordi Grognard mainly on tenor sax but with moments on soprano, clarinets and flute as well, and Nelide Bandello on drums. We have published two albums, SKIN for Novara’s dEN Records and LUX, self-produced. The project, in this form, has presently reached deadlock, because of, let’s say… an “artistic-creative” crisis of the leader… But the project is having a new life in my tours and is reshaping with a variable line-up.
The other most important projects are ZOLA quartet, a Gonzalo Rodriguez’ project that is also releasing a new album for Igloo Records, the Bruno Grollet Quartet, a new project in cooperation with Antonio Fusco on drums and Francesco Orio on piano, and some more projects in “other” musics (Giacomo Lariccia, Kirsty McGee, LYENN, Kiss&Drive). From time to time, I flirt with impro, but we love each other and then we continuously leave us!
Reservados todos los derechos – All rights reserved – 版權所有 – 版权所有;  An espresso with… Nicola Lancerotti copyright Jazzespresso 2018.
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