Interview with Andrea Bolzoni (April 2016)

When did you start to play guitar and why? What did you study? 

When I was 12 years old. I was attracted to the guitar because, at primary school, a friend and classmate of mine played it. I had the courage to declare this interest to my parents when a colleague of my dad made me put on a pair of headphones connected to an output to a multi-effect that was connected un’Ibanez JEM black. He asked me to blow on the ropes and I heard a distorted sound grow in my ears: I remained totally fascinated. I started taking lessons under the guidance of Umberto Boccardi, with whom I studied roughly up to 18 years old. Then I went to a school that is outside Milan where addressed first a guitar individual path with Giancarlo Boselli and then attended a full time course of two years in Jazz, under the guidance of Andrea Vendramin. In those years I had the opportunity to get closer to the most contemporary forms of jazz, thanks to music lessons ensemble with Biagio Coppa, that I was able to follow even later, for another couple of years. After studying with Andrea Vendramin I decided, perhaps with a little presumption, which I was no longer in my need to have an instrument teacher to follow me. At that time it was for me the most important priority to play and work with musicians I admired, as well as the opportunity to follow the music courses together and theoretical study. This led me to move, to do some short but very significant for travels. Get in touch with musicians of great thickness and especially not gravitated within the reality in which I was born and raised has allowed me to further open the eyes of both those who were my interests of what were some myths, prejudices and inability to debunk. I have become increasingly moved from jazz to improvised music. At this stage the two figures who have had greater importance are undoubtedly Alberto Braida and Stefano Battaglia. An important role is also played by the Alexander Technique: the contribution of the three years of training have been essential in my approach to improvisation, thanks to the acquired tools that have allowed me to be more and more aware of what is going on around me and inside me as I play. Finally, about a year and a half ago I started studying electronic music at the Milan Conservatory. It seemed like a natural evolution of my career.

What’s your musical background?

I find it difficult to define and to talk about my musical background. It was and it is a succession of passions, waste and rapprochements. My adolescence was accompanied by rock and the more extreme metal, jazz studies and interest in improvised music they handed me a bag of plays but I still partial, recent electronic firms are getting closer to reality that up to not long ago I was thinking too different from me.

With that guitar sounds and with what you played?

Regarding the guitars now I play from more than ten years of my Manne semi-acoustic. Also I own a Yamaha Silent Guitar that rarely use and acoustics of a series of economic Ovation, which I use mainly to give lessons. I played and I had very few other guitars: a very yellow Washburn and an Ibanez SA, and the first classical guitar with which I began.


How did the idea of a solo record as AmI? start? And how was it recorded?

I played with the idea of a solo record for some time, but in fact “Ami?” came about by chance. I was asked to do a concert in solo, a set of impro. I had never done, so I felt the need to do some testing. I made one and I recorded, with very simple equipment I have in my practice room. The concert, for various reasons, has been canceled. But the more I listened to the recording I made, the more I felt in there that there were parts of me that hardly ever emerge. I knew they were not all things go as I wanted, that that impro contained “mistakes.” But what were those mistakes, if not my reflection? I experienced listening to “love?” As a self-portrait. It seemed the best way to begin the adventure in itself.

What were and are your main musical influences? How do you express your “musical form” as an interpreter or doing improvisation, whether you’re playing “solo” both with other musicians? Do you draw up a “form” by default making adjustments when necessary, or you let the “form” itself to emerge in different situations, or exploit both creative approaches?

The influences that characterize my music are those of a certain type of jazz that revolves around the city of New York. The trio Big Satan, the trio Fieldwork and Kneebody, to name a few. Then Mary Halvorson, which literally adore. On other fronts Fennesz would say that could be a recent source of inspiration as well as other post-rock that I started attending.

In most cases, when I’m in improvised music contexts, I let the form to emerge. Although on some occasions there is the need or the free will to impose themselves of the roads to follow, I still find that spontaneity given by total freedom gives life to what you play and that you build. This is not to say that one approach is better than the other, just that right now I feel more comfortable in allowing the form to find its way in the balances that are created from moment to moment. When I am in formations in which, despite recourse to moments of improvisation, you have written themes, I prefer to have a form to follow. I think this provides greater strength to issues shares and allows you to create improvisations which, though free, adhere to the composition.

What does improvisation mean in your music research? Can we go back talking of improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc?

Over the past eight years improvisation was the fulcrum around which turned my musical research. And it was an approach not always serene and carefree, I must admit. I’ve often wondered if, somehow, you were not looking for an easier way, away from the daily practice of improvisation on chord progressions. It was not easy for me, I have a strong tendency to rationalize and to frame in boxes all the things that I face, being in open spaces to explore and to be given a meaning. You may wonder why I have taken certain decisions. And the answer is that, through these decisions, I learned to listen more to my instincts. For me, a certain kind of way was exhausted, no longer she gave me a lot and I needed to go somewhere else. I tried to hear what were the contexts which in turn made me feel stimulated, which returned me something. Improvisation has represented for me a fundamental artistic and personal growth, human growth. Now I am in the hands of new research objects: the possibility, for me extremely charming, digitally process in infinite ways, the audio recordings that my guitar produces. I do not know where this road will take me, but I believe that improvisation will continue to play a very important role. As for the classical repertoire, unfortunately, not knowing him, I have no means to answer the question.

How does your music methodology is influence from the community of people (musicians or not) you work with? Change your approach in relation to the one who directly or indirectly receive from them? If you listen to a different interpretation of a song you already played and you want to perform keep account of this listening or do you prefer to proceed in complete independence?

My methodology is highly influenced by the people with whom I come into contact. Every experience has its own weight on my choices of interpretation. And I think it’s this permeability to give individuality to my sound and to allow the growth: the path that each of us travels is unique and unique is the experience you get.

Even listening to the previous interpretations of a song influence my work and I consider itessential. From this point of view, however, I have a greater experience from a general point of view, of the group, that individual. With the two Raw Frame trio and Swedish Mobilia is common practice to work this way. Although the principles underlying the two projects are different (Raw Frame has a repertoire of original songs while Swedish Mobilia is free improvisation) the recording of evidence and the constant listening of the material allows us to be very critical of the work done and to reach a defined and recognizable sound. And when you happen to not see each other for months, listening to recordings made it is the point from which it starts, even if it starts not necessarily in the same direction.

I sometimes feel that in our time music’s history flow with no particular interest in its chronological course, in our disco-music library before and after, the past and the future become interchangeable elements, could this be a risk for an interpreter and a composer of a uniform vision? A “globalized” music?

I do not have a clear opinion about it. Thinking about my path I see that it has changed several times point of view with respect to the role and significance that the music of the past and the music of the present. I do not think I have enough critical knowledge to express myself about the interest of our age for the chronological course of music history.

Tell us  five essential discs for you, always to have with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island ..

If I may be slightly changed from the application, I would write the five discs that today would bring to a desert island. Do not think I have five discs essential of all, you always have with me, but five at this time and in that place may have a function, those yes, I have them.

J. S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (Glenn Gould), to lose myself in the form of dizziness.
Bill Evans Trio “Explorations”, to remember that some human beings have a soul.
Autechre “Quaristice”, because there are always fascinating new worlds to discover.
St Vincent “St Vincent”, to dance.
Alela Diane “The Pirate’s Gospel”, to accompany me in moments of nostalgia.

What are your five essential scores?

Again, I do not have sheet music indispensable. But five who are fond of these could be:
Donna Lee, dall’Omnibook Charlie Parker
Invention No. 8, J. S. Bach
Capriccio 24, N. Paganini
Krakovia, D. Frati
De Lachende Dwerg, M. Mengelberg

The blog is also read by young school leavers and graduates, what advice would you give to those who, after years of study, decided to start a musical career?

The only advice I can give is to try to be as honest and sincere with oneself.

Who would you like to play and who would you like to play with? What music do you listen to usually?

I like to listen to different types of music, for pleasure and study needs. In the last two or three weeks I remember listening to different electronic music by Berio, Maderna, Stockhausen and Xenakis, St. Vincent, Chemical Brothers, Jakob Bro, Donny McCaslin, Tortoise, Mary Halvorson, Cinematic Orchestra, Tim Reynolds, Max Gazzè, Deftones , Dan Auerbach, Explosions In The Sky.

Who I’d like to play? So, out of hand, I think that might be one for all Mary Halvorson.

What are your next projects? What are you working on?

In the coming weeks the work will restart with three trio that I cherish: Raw Frame (with Salvatore Satta on bass and Daniel Friars on drums), Consulting the Oracle (with Luca Pissavini on bass and Daniel Friars on drums) and the training yet unnamed Alberto Braida on piano and Daniel Friars on drums. We will record and we will do some shows, I hope. For some time also I became a member of the post-rock band Goodbye Kings, the second disc in the pipeline.

The sole is a continuing project and evolving, sometimes just in the imagination.
And many other collaborations to which I hope to give life, a trio with my music that is in the drawer for a long time, the idea of meeting fellow musicians around Europe. But if I do not sleep at least seven hours a night I get in a bad mood, so I’m forced to take the time to do things with the right breathing.