interview with Marco Boccia

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Has any of you played in other bands? Each of us plays in other bands. Jazz, by its nature, feeds on collaborations to express and develop its own language.

How is it that you started playing music? I started playing in the 80s. I played the bass guitar in a rock band, I was 13 years old and we rehearsed in dusty cellars at very high volumes and the next morning going to school was a problem. Then the years in the conservatory came, there I started to study the double bass and I never stopped playing.

What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you?

In my project Marino Cordasco (29) plays the piano and GianlivioLiberti (46) the drums. I am 46 years old and I play the double bass.

Have you had any other previous members? Not in this project. The themes that we present aim at deepening the concept of trio and I must say that I found in Marino and Gianlivio some excellent travelling companions who immediately welcomed my ideas and not only shared them, but also developed them creatively,getting in tune with the sound I was looking for.

Did you make music when you were young? I have always done music, as I said, I started with rock then, during my high school years,my academic career began. I studied the double bass and this led me to play in chamber groups and symphonic orchestras. At the same time, I studied jazz in Siena, I met masters and great musicians who made me understand that this was my way that, in fact, I no longer abandoned.

Where are you from? I live in Bari, a relatively large city in Apulia, a region in southern Italy.Here there are sun, sea and good cuisine with some contamination of ancient Greece, Norman / Swabian and Arab domination in its remote past.

When did you form the band? 

This trio was formed in 2016 and in 2017 we released the first album entitled "In the Park" published byFabrizio Salvatore's AlfaMusic label.

We are a stable trio and we are going to produce our new album scheduled for the first few months of 2019.

What's your genre? During my thirty years of music I can say that I played many musical genres and I like listening to different genres.Nowthe kind of music that I feel closest to me is jazz. It is inevitably contaminated by my both human and artistic background. After all, jazz is a constantly changing music which stillkeeps its semantic identity and its improvisational character.

What inspires you?

It is not easy to answer because there are many stimuli that give birth to a song or even tofragments which can settle and later onwill be transformed into pieces or parts of it. Basically, I

take a rhythmic, melodic or harmonic idea and try to develop it on the piano as a first draft. I stick to pencil and pentagram when writing, I do not use any computer programs. Then I try to eliminate or revisewhatI don’t like or gives me the feeling I have already heard it before and I go on with a second draft. I play it with the contrabass and hum the theme by creating lines that I can find interesting and then submit it to the group. Here the piece is contaminated by the skills of my colleagues who interpret the piece until we have something that we like.

How often and where do you rehearse? As a stable group we rehearse with a certain frequency taking account of the commitments of each of us. We have a rehearsal room of our own, not very big but equipped to have an upright piano, drums,sound system for the digital piano and ourunfailing fan. It is located in the city but below the ground level so that we can rehearse at any time of day.

How have you developed since you started making music? During so many yearsboth me and my music have inevitably changed. Since I started playing, I have moved from one style to another, playing in many different situations. Today in my concerts I try to express the contents of the piece that I produce and I have managed to get closer to the sound I am looking for. With InThe Park we had an excellent feedback from audiences and critics due to the work of the label and my press office. We hadsignificant spaces in newspapers, TV, radio and on the web. This allowed us to bring our music on different stages in Italy, although it is not an easy time for jazz. However, if I had to take stock of this last year, I would say that we had positive results.

Do you have any other interests or a job outside the band? I am an extremely curious person so I have different interests such as reading, history, cinema and art in general. I deeply believe that art is nourished by art.However, my job is being a musician. Obviously, I teach in schools and academies and I work with different groups to increase the gig. I have no other job besides music.

Are you looking for a booking agency? Booking is essential. In fact, we are always looking for a professional figure who can sell our concert not only in Italy but also abroad. So far, we took care of sending proposals and looking for contracts, but it is a job that takes a lot of time and resources that, we as musiciansshould spend studying, testing and writing new arrangements or tracks. However, I am confident in the future success of jazz, although this is adifficult timedue to a general homogenisation of taste and attention of the public, which is more and more concerned with immediacy rather than reflection. Today, it is essential to have a professional who constantly takes care of mailing and maintains contacts which can result in concerts and commitments for the group.

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? 

Today, the possibility of broadcasting a music product on the web allows you to produce your musicindependently without any label or with a personal one. A lot of musicians do it. There are several channels where you can place it and getpeople listen to it.In some previous interview I was asked whether it makes sense to release a physical disk today. It remains fundamental, in my opinion, to document a project and have it followed by experts who have channels that have been settled over time and also have a certain credibility.

Currently, I have a contract with a Roman label: AlfaMusic. It is among the first three jazz labels in Italy, according to specialized magazines that draw up a ranking every year. At present I feel at ease. The artistic director, Fabrizio Salvatore with all his staff allows us to manage the contents and recording sessionsindependently. With In The Park they have done an important job in spreading and distributing not only online, by placing the disc on all digital platforms or distributing it in off-line shops but, exploiting their network of journalists and professionals, they have made our music knownto a wide audience.This allowed our project to be introduced to and known by insiders.

What made you decide to make this music? I have not decided to make this music, this is the music I make and I refer to the one I record on my CDs. When I work on other projects,I try to empathize with what I set out to doand I hope to give the right contribution.

What are your songs about? Up to now, I have had the opportunity to try instrumental songs, but this does not mean that there is not a story behind it. When I write I often start from suggestions of small stories that I would like to narrate and to which I try to give a musical identity. For example, the songs on the album In The Park come from well-defined emotions that draw on my personal life. The relationship with my daughter and the experience with my father in the last period of his life were the input for almost all the work. Strong emotions, contrasting but both very powerful, do not leave me indifferent. Emotions start running high and let me put the pen on the paper.

Do you compose in a certain environment? I compose almost exclusively alone and in my home studio that has nothing technological. A piano, a double bass, a carpet, my books, records and a beautiful fireplace always lit during the winter. In this environment I can concentrate and find the right condition to follow my ideas and to study.

Have you done any covers live? Covers? In my concert there is only one cover. A personal arrangement of Day is done by Nick Drake, an author and a song that I particularly love. Then if we refer to jazz standards, in some collaborations, I happen to play jazz classics but as regards my trio we play only our music.

What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? If we refer to the audience of concerts, over many years, we happened to playon large stages as well as in house concerts. Generally,we play in clubs and this tends to be a bit unpredictable.However, we have a small following of loyal friends who come to listen to us when we play in cities.Most of the time the public comes thanks to the ability of the organization and artistic director.

What ages are most of your concert attendants? 

Let's say that my audience is made up mostly of people aged 30 and over but it has also happened to be invited to play in pubs where the audience was younger and I liked it a lot as it attracted young people to listen to the jazz, which in this period is fundamental. Jazz today needs to renew its audience and snatching young people from listening to certain mainstream music is almost a mission. Nowadays, we are noticing a sort of reduction of the ability and desire to concentrate on music and artistic products of a certain complexity.Therefore, we must engage ourselves to pass

oncultural values and feel the responsibility of our proposals, keeping as high as possible the level both technical and emotional. It is not simple, it seems like a medium and long term investment.

Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? In the last year we presented the contents of our latest album "In The Park". Now we are integrating the repertoire with the songs that will be on the next record that, I can announce you, will be called "Gravity" and whose release is scheduled for the first months of 2019. Moreover, the programs that I perform with my different collaborations lead me to deal with different repertoires. I collaborate, among others, with a very good pianist with whom I recorded two albums, always in trio. He is Vito Liturri and with LelloPatruno at the drums we are going on tour with our latest production which is entitled From Beyond (Dodicilune ed.).

Do you have a place where you often play live? In the past we used to have a stable place to play and organize concerts and jam sessions but, at this moment, in my city there are no venues that permanently welcome an experience of this kind. There have been many experiments but in the end the tendency of the managers seems to host cover or tribute bands with the idea of increasing the flow of public and the consequent turnover. Jazz, on the contrary, tends to retain listeners and requires a greater work of communication and involvement of the public.Therefore, dealing with jazz I belong to a category which is very distant from the cover band and mainstream, so it is more and more complicated to have a reference place.

What was your first gig like? I remember very well my first concert. It was in a middle school here in Bari with my first rock band and we played Bon Jovi’s songs. It was in the 80s. I remember that we rehearsed in the guitarist’s house and the vocalist was his sister.The drummer – who is still a good friend of mine - played animprovised drum set, a sort of collage made up with pieces of old drum kits held together by cables and cords for the cymbals that he hung on a stand recovered from some relatives. I remember those times with tenderness, like my first concert in the orchestra, when I woremy dark suit and my mother– who was so proud of me - brought me there. If I think about how much time has passed since then I almost feel moved.

What was your latest gig? My last concert was held in Taranto, a city in Puglia a hundred kilometers far away from Bari. In trio. A nice jazz club with a lot of grand piano, drums and equipment, facilitieswhichare quite difficult to find in most of the clubs in this area.

Have you had to cancel a gig? Sometimes, but not in recent years. When it happened, it was due to climatic factors in outdoor live sets.

Where have you played live this year?

In the 2017/18 season we played in several places to present the album "In The Park", such as clubs, festivals and associations. The most interesting concerts were at the Medimexwith an audience of professionals, at the Jazzit fest that in Italy is organized by the magazine JAZZIT.In Apulia, as in other Italian regions, it organizes every year a three-day music event in a small rural village and we played in the villa of a family that put up in its garden one of the four stagespresent

in the village. I must say that we played a lot and this has reinforced both our sound and our concert.

Where do you plan to gig in the coming year? Next year we will promote our new product that will be called "GRAVITY" and now we are establishing contacts for a tour in Italian clubs. We hope well! Obviously, I'm working to find a professional figure who can take care of us in organizing concerts.As I said, it's a job which has to be done with a certain resolution and this is essential for a group that wants to go outside the borders of their territory.

Where can people buy your merchandise? I do not have a merchandise. I just propose my books, I published two books on bass and my records are sold directly to the public present in the concerts, if they are interested. Then I sell on-line and in stores, my publishers distribute my publications and sell them in their catalogues and on all the digital platforms that the market offers.

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records? Personally, I consider a house in which there are no books and recordsan empty house. The question must be seen from different points of view.Definitely,there are a lot of products, which sometimes fail to comply with standard ofhigh quality. CDsare quite expensive (at least here in Italy). On the other hand, you can download a song, even for free, and create a play list to take with you when you play sports, walk around or simply listen to it when driving, ascarsare not always equipped with a CD player but just have an USB input. The Internet with its digital platforms cannot be stopped. What damages authors is that in Italy, for example, there is a lack of copyright regulations that provide an adequate compensation. Of course, royalties are recognized but not as in other European countries.In Italydownload compensation is really ridiculous. Here we have the S.I.A.E. (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) that, despite being a private company, plays a monopoly role on copyright by setting low rates againstterribly onerous annual fees required to join, to perform concert activities and, generally speaking, everything concerned with the development of music. I'm not worried about downloading. I'd like to have better regulations to protect authors who often work for a living and do not see their job recognized.

How do you think the music industry have changed because of this?

This is a touchy subject too, as music industry is like our society: there are the rich and the poor. When I listen to the radio, I know perfectly well that the editors broadcastfirstlythe music that must comfort, that’s to say that of the usual big artists. So theycan be sure that listeners do not change channel or frequency.Secondly, theybroadcast productsof the artists who must sell their music, thus attracting consumers of commercial music, which very often lacks of content.

Music industry always tries to follow the market and make money selling millions of copies of the most popular hitbysome character heightened by one of the many talent shows that television produces. This music invades the web, TV, radio and even the newspapers attracting young people who, as I said before, have stopped looking for something innovative and are satisfied with temporary stuff. Today many singers are not genuine, they do not have a path of life that leads them to write and in fact they are swallowed up and spit out after a few years or even a few months. Then there is the market of those labels that experiment by investing in productions with complex contents. Theyare broadcastedlate in the night by a few radio programs or on little known digital terrestrial channels. I am very worried about this, not because of fashions that are

destined to run out but because of the attitude that is being created. I see it on my daughter who is only seven years old and they propose crazy programs where there are no more distinctions, where everything is homogeneous and even if you try to explain something, you have difficulties because there is nothing to explain. This applies to everything: to an abstract painting, a book by a great Russian author, poetry, and so on. It is no coincidence that even politics in Italy as well as in other countries is often represented by narrow-minded people. They always address to the “core” of the country, rather than to people’smind and heart. In conclusion, I believe that those who have the most powerful means of disseminating knowledge preferto bow to the "Market God” and accept the mediocrity of the demandin order to survive.

What do you think of my work? Firstly, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I think yours is a very important work that helps us to spread our content beyond the music itself. An interview is the bestwayto make people understand that behind a job there is a train of thought. So I hope that it can attractsome people who could invite you to play or simply to listen to your music and appreciate those who composed it.

Do you have any role models or idols? Maybe when I was a child, I had a certain admiration for the works of great artists and their so brilliant and crazy life. Surely there was a time when I tried to imitate their gesture but with bad results until I realized that the only way to try to do well this job is to accept themselves with one’s own limits and work hard seriously on ideas. Never leave anything to chance is the best way to obtain good results.

Why do you think that they exist? Idols, in my opinion, are those people who leave a strong mark in society for good and for bad, of course. Actually, you always trust the positive hero, the one who comes to save you and then saves the whole world. Myths can be important when they remind us that there is something worth living and fighting for, when they give you the idea that you can be better if you have a better set of values or simply push your own limits.

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today? There is no doubt that there are musicians and bands that have a certain influence. For a saxophonist it is impossible not to consider Coltrain in his own training or for a pianist to ignore Bill Evans, we bassists think about Ron Carter Dave Holland or Pastorius and the list could go on and on. In my case, the references are the historical and modern trios such as those of Bill Evans, Jarret and the more modern Svensson or Mehldau. Each of them has, in a certain sense, changed the history of music and contributed to renew language. It seems inevitable to relate to great authors and their records but then you must find your own way, look for your own voice and give a personal point of view on the world that you intend to describe. It is not easy, it is not always possible, but at least you must try.

What have been your biggest obstacles? 

The obstacles that are encountered, at this moment, at least in my area, are the venues. There are less and less places which offer jazz, clubs seem to prefer cover bands claiming that these attract more public. On the other hand, the costs to play are increased (permissions, compliance with safety standards, bureaucracy ...). Festivals have less money and are forced to issue tickets to go on and then rely on the usual solid and certain names to attract more payers. Obviously, I do not

want to generalize but the small music entrepreneurs have stopped educating the public with new offers as they fear empty chairs. This results into ever lower cachets that do not allow you to accept engagements. All this is due, in Italy, to the low willingness of our politicians to invest in culture. In Italy there are little investments in culture, school and research and we do not understand that we Italians will never be like Germans.Our heritage or rather our richness is beauty, so we should have people who know how to turn it into cultural growth which, in my humble opinion, can develop into economic wealth. I refer to open-air museums, climate and tourism but also music is part of these dynamics. We have a lot of great musicians who travel around the world arousing sympathy. On the contrary, we still fight here to play on a stage. Certainly, there are a lot of beautiful venues, but they cannot comply with the large offer of the last years.

What advice would you give other bands or artists? I am not good at giving advice. For those who want to make music I can say that you have to study a lot and know how to communicate your work, by any means available. Today a musician must also be a manager and know how to get out of the rehearsal room. We need to cope with the increasingly invasive bureaucracy,when we want to have access to calls in order to get funds and move forward. We have to build up a network of contacts. This may seem very far from music but actually it is not!

How do you get psyched for a gig? I have no particular rituals, if that's what you mean. There is always emotion when you go up on a stage, whatever it is. There is the thrill of presenting your own music, hoping that people like it and it can convey joy and tranquility to the audience that has chosen to be there with you and not somewhere else.

Do you have any new material? Yes.As I said before, in October we enter the studio to record our new album whose title will be "Gravity". Same label: AlfaMusic. So right now, in addition to some concerts we are rehearsing, we are working on a video that will anticipate the release of the album scheduled for the first months of 2019 and planning the promotion tour. Then I have some collaborations with other musicians to make two recordings by the end of 2018 and other collaborations for live projects.

What are your websites? My website is https://marcoboccia.wixsite.com/marcoboccia, even though most of the communication is provided through social networks that allow me to get in contact with people looking for me and permit an immediate update of my contents.

How can people reach you? My music and my books are present on all the major digital platforms, I have a good indexing and we are working with my staff and with the tireless Alessandra Savino, my personal Press Office, to improve the online and offline presence of my group and my contents. We are convinced to do it also thanks to people like you who are interested in music workers, as we are.

What are your plans for the future? We expect a lot of happiness and strength in our future to face difficulties. We are working hard and we hope that what we are producing will have a good response. As I have always done, I proceed step by step.

Do you have something to add? Thank you for finding the time to squeeze me in!

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