An espresso with Pasquale Ninni

Image Credits: Pasquale Ninni © Paolo Satriani

September 1, 2020

We interviewed Pasquale Ninni, guitarist, session musician, composer and teacher whose works span virtually all musical genres that have featured acoustic and electric guitar.

> Ivano Rossato 

Is there a context and musical genre in which you feel particularly “at home”?
I love the guitar in all its facets, nuances, techniques and sound. I honestly think I feel the same pleasure if I hug an acoustic guitar for one of my songs, or if I happen to play the Variations on Haendel Theme with my classical guitar. It’s the sensations that change radically. The music at that moment transports me and she is the one in charge. So it’s not the genre, it’s the condition: I think I express myself more in single guitar. Maybe because I love to keep everything “under control” in a manic way!
My dream? Try to make your mark. In one way or another I think it is more of a real ethical need. Get to as many people as possible with my music.
How does your artistic approach change (if it changes!) when you play as a session musician compared to when you perform your own compositions?
My approach isn’t that different. Establishing a harmony and a useful feeling for the success of the whole (tour or disco) with the artist on duty is important, but my first concern is to get totally into his world. And then the trick is always the same: let go.
How do you approach the study of a score written by others?
I try to respect as much as possible the musical sense (rhythmic and melodic) of those who composed the work. Knowing the composer and his era is essential to be able to feel even closer to his world. Then, if we want to be really fiscal, I immediately try to find the passages that hide technical pitfalls so that I understand how to deal with them in impromptu (almost always review the fingerings).
Do you usually adopt a specific compositional process or does it vary from song to song?
I would say that almost always the ideas that turn into “good even the next day” for me are born with the instrument in my hands and the staffed sheets for the notes. I write everything that comes to mind, and if I can’t write then I register with my smartphone. Initially I tend to give more prominence to the harmonic side if it is a single guitar record, smearing it all on rhythmic cells that I find at that time suited to the context. 
Which are the guitarists (or even artists, generally speaking) that have most influenced you artistically?
Without a doubt, with acoustic music it would be Michael Hedges. The first time i listened to him I was struck by his taste, refinement, technique and sound. A revolutionary of the 6 string. He’s able to intrepret and personalize his instrument like no other. A formidable author and songwriter second to none. With electric, my favorite is always Steve Morse. I learned from him the aggressiveness and love of spead of the instrument (especially with scales). For classic music, I would say Julian Bream but especially Nariciso Yepes for the interpretation, technique and class. But how could I say no to the sacred names like Paco De Lucia, John Mclaughlin, Steve Howe or Al Di Meola?
What project are you currently working on?
The idea is quite pretentious. It is a record where I use the 7-string guitar trying to make the most of its potential. For some time now this can be called my second instrument, especially if we think about the techniques of air-tap and slap. All combined with ambient-new age sounds and ethnic tools. Then there is my ARRENBI’ project as a duo with Fabio Caruso on vocals. We are working on the record with more than one surprise!
An espresso with Pasquale Ninni copyright Jazzespresso 2020.
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Jazzespresso è una rivista, un sito web, una rete che connette le anime del jazz di tutto il mondo. America, Europa, Asia, Australia e Africa: notizie da tutto l'orbe terracqueo in una pagina tradotta in cinque lingue. Un punto di riferimento multiculturale in inglese, cinese, spagnolo e italiano per gli amanti di questa musica in tutti i paesi del mondo. Per gli amatori o i professionisti che vogliono essere aggiornati su quello che sta succedendo in tutto il pianeta... rimani sintonizzato!

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