An espresso with…
Roberto Gatto and Perfect Trio

Image Credits: Roberto Gatto Perfect Trio © Leonardo Schiavone

June 19, 2018

Passion and joy

The Italian drummer Roberto Gatto can boast a career full of collaborations with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. We interviewed him just before the concert recently held at Piazza dei Mestieri in Turin with the Perfect Trio.
> Ivano Rossato

By observing your career, very rich in collaborations and projects, which is the Perfect Trio’s main feature?
It’s a project which was mainly created for generating improvised music. At a certain stage of my career, I felt it necessary to form a group I could go on stage with and improvise. This was the main feature the project was created for. It wasn’t easy as, while in some areas such as the Netherlands and Germany improvisation is a well distinct musical genre, in our Country it is a bit difficult to improvise among musicians. Actually, it’s a well experimented music, but it also requires to be played.
How do you consider the pure improvisation?
I believe that, in Italy, it has always been a problem to play this genre of music, maybe because the musicians have always been afraid of awing the public. But improvisation includes a lot of methodologies, even those based on the key, for instance. It is not necessary anymore to improvise as it was done in the 1970s. Actually, if we take as an example, a giant of improvisation as Cécile Taylor, we discover that behind the improvisation there are an actual thought and a very well defined methodology. Therefore, after having played for many years a lot of organized music in many different forms, I strongly felt the need of having a group with whom to go on stage and take risks, play music for an hour and a half without any coordinate.
How does your experience in other musical genres affect this kind of approach?
In this group you can also find rock music, that it’s in effect the music I grew up with, a musical world that, as far as I’m concerned, enriched me a lot. To play jazz by being aware of having listened to the 70s rock and progressive rock is really making us more dreamers, and that’s a thing that nowadays’ musicians do not have. This specific historical moment affected our music very much, by making us see it in a more visionary and probably “freakier” way! In that time, music was made very simply and there was a great wish of communicating among musicians.
Roberto Gatto Perfect Trio Jazzespresso magazine Rossato interview
What do the musicians you played with have in common?
The generation of musicians I was lucky to play with, that I dare say that they have made the history of jazz, with whom I came across at the end of their shiny careers, all were characterized by a great passion and joy for what they were doing, especially black musicians, and I deem it’s still so. They’re very friendly, they remember you even after 25-30 years they have played with you. They have something really unique in the way of approaching to other musicians. Probably this comes from their relationships with the religion, the gospel, and the “social” aspect of music is very important to them. White musicians have often been characterized by complicated personalities, with problems partially connected to drug abuse, I think for example of Chet Baker. Absolutely unstable personalities with sudden changes of mood. Anyway, they all had in common the great passion for what they were doing and they all were very expert and also very attentive of what their colleagues were playing. Even now, when I travel and I meet new musicians, they all distinguish for their will of examining and investigating.
Which recommendation would you give to a young musician?
I suggest to young musicians to put anything aside and to think of doing this job with as much passion as they can. Unfortunately, on the contrary, I often see that there are many distracted people. It’s a pity when I speak to young musicians and they look too presumptuous, wishing to be successful at any cost, by rushing into things and by looking for an immediate economic return, without putting enough passion. You have instead to really love what you do, without filters that could distance yourself from this objective.
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