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TEMPI DURI - Italia

( English translation)

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INTERVIEW WITH MASSIMO AIELLO

Stefano Bonelli:

S. B.: In this site we’ll try to go into the work of the neapolitan drummer in his tribute to the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven. So, dear Massimo, do you want to explain to our visitors why a drummer like you would recording an atypical record like your tribute to a great master of symphonical music?

Massimo Aiello: For me, as well as a plesure, it’s been a need for personal study.... Through classical music (but not only) is possible learning to grasp, more than in other kinds of music, multiples faces of melody’s rhythmical subdivision, the playing with accuracy on a rhythmical (especially), melodic and harmonic walk, and follow dynamics so different between themselves. This way to play the instrument (maybe a little improper, but not exactly) helps in a unique way to feel, after, all the music and playing right “inside” it. Anyway, it’s substatially a tribute to Beethoven both as a musician and as a man. His history (with all qualities and defects) had always fascinated me, since I was a child.

S. B.: I know that you have done many collaboration during your career (one of the most important is that with Ricky Gianco), what’s the journey that carried you to do a record like that?

M. A.: I love classical music (especially the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony) and since I was a child I would liked to get “into” it with drums, but I didn’t know how.... Since the 1977 I listened to it almost every day and after, in 1987, I managed to do the complete show live, and the audience (heterogeneous) has had a more than positive reaction. So, with the passage of time, I improved the inserting of drums’ parts, and then, in 2001, I found a record producer who believed in my project (Marco Rossi of Azzurra Music in Verona). Moreover, as time goes by, I tried (and I hope I did it) to not fall into the predictable, that is to hang over the music with drums (creating only a show moment mainly based on myself and so finished to itself), but I tried to create a real “join in” of drums, wich remains a real “intrusion”.

S. B.: As a drummer of Naples’ music circle, can you describe us the current neapolitan’s music scene and who, in your opinion, deserves some attention?

M. A.: Well, I’m living in north Italy by many years, but I always try to be a good “observer” of the things that turn around us.... Naples has always had good musicians, but the thing that I dislike is that many of these ones (those who could “hold up” the music) are fallen into compromises, a part of them in to commercial, a part that lives on private means.... I think that “under the wood” there are musicians of great sensitivity who don’t find appropriates options and helps (the way is often blocked by the “old guard”....). So, it needs a general conscience’s reprise (not only in Naples) for coming out from this mental, artistic and human’ stand-by. It will be only the “good revolution” that will revives the consciences, of course, but it will must start from everyone of us the creation of a “new”, on condition that it will be honest and coherent....

S. B.: Are you maybe a member of Tullio De Piscopo’s drums school?

M. A.: Yes, I went to his course in Milano in the early 80’s, when he was “in line” with music.... And I learnt (and I had to “steal”) various things. But I think that the real enrichment is the humble confrontation (not servile.... there’s often a wrong interpretation of this term) with the music’s world and learning to confront openly, to grasp and to share inspirations with all kinds of musicians and artists as well out of music’s context, in case that these informations not come from the own teacher (like almost always happen....), so we are obliged to “steal” them.... but I have to say that the teacher who carried me to understand the more important things (who that I feel to be in the same line regarding music) was been Enrico Lucchini. Considered by all the Master of the Masters, Enrico wasn’t mentioned or worse was kept “hidden” by most people (I never knew why, but after I understood very well....). He had left an unfilling void in Italy!

S. B.: I have to compliment you for your work on the tribute to beethoven that for me is absolutely respectful and almost fearful on face up this venture, because that’s been, isn’t it?

M. A.: Thank you! I couldn’t did anything else running into an opera like that! I still say to myself “Inserting this or that drums’ score, how I ruin better the Ninth?”

S. B.: How did you set up your drums? I ask you that because, listening to the cd, I had the impression that you had played as a percussionist of  a symphony orchestra more than as a real drummer, I’m wrong?

M. A.: It’s almost exact, and I like that you grasped this fine thing. Playing drums in the Ninth I tried to respect some rules of this instrument paying attention, in the choice of rhythms, that they was part of  the standard; but I wanted to let a part of it to the improvisation. Not exactly in jazz style (it’s better to let the great drummers do that), but we can talk about a “classic-jazz” style. I don’t know if I made myself clear, but it’s what I try to do following the rhythmical-harmonic-melodic walk etc. with the “weapons” that I have at my disposal. Always trying to not hang over the orchestra and catching (especially with the cymbals) those that I call “bends”, “glows” etc. and colors of music. I want to “underline” that it’s never a planned work but it’s more instinctive (always with all due control) through the “weapons” at disposal.

S. B.: Maybe we’ll have the possibility to listen to you as a “normal” drummer, what are you doing at the moment?

M. A.: I had and I created by myself some more “normal” opportunities, both with well-known names like Ricky Gianco (as you said before) and Aldo Tagliapietra leader of Le Orme, but also with dozens of dozens of less-known groups who I had collaborated with for concerts, albums, demos etc. always with the same professional spirit. At the moment I’m working on a project of “mediterranean jazz-latin” (I recorded in studio also the bass-line because we didn’t find an appropriate bass-player....); just now I finished to recording an album of author-songs and other.... I invite you, at this point, to visit my website www.massimoaiello.com for more information on past, present and future.

S. B.: As a drummer, who are the musicians that had influenced you more?

M. A.: Well....they would be hundreds....I list you a bit of them for the reason that I will explain at the end of the answer....Some of the more significant drummers for me are: Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Steve Gadd, Omar Hakim, Alex Acuna, Peter Erskine, Kenny Clarke (look: my teacher Enrico Lucchini, for example, he had taught in the 70’s with Kenny Klarke in his drum’ school in Paris), Jack DeJohnettes, Tommy Aldrige, Phil Collins, Ricky Lawson and many others. Between the percussionists there are: Trilok Gurtu, Mino Cinelu, Airto Moreira, Manolo Badrena, Tito Puente, Don Alias, these are some of the more famouses, but I like many others not famouses. Classical musicians: Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mozart, Chopin and many others “greats” of classical music and its performers like Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Rubinstein, Rostropovich, Pollini, Askenasi, Maria Callas, Caruso; conductors like Arturo Toscanini, Karajan, Abbado, Daniel Oren and others. And more: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Archie Sheep, Pastorius, Pino Daniele (old records), Zawinul, Shorter, McLaughlin, Hancock and many others like: historic groups of Weather Report, Jethro Tull, Steps Ahead, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc., etc., etc., etc..... I listed many musicians who had influenced me both in past and present for throw out a bit of the “traffic” and the “good confusion” that I have in my head when I play (and also when not.....).

S. B.: Since you done a tribute to an artist like Beethoven, what do you think about a kind of music as the heavy metal that it’s usually mixed with classical music?

M. A.: In the past are been done some good things and I think that it needs to continue without holding the same composing way. It needs to go out from the usuals (wared) harmonics and compositive’s rules in general.... There will be the result of differents and good ideas. I disagree with who say “This kind of music is made that way” for shortage of ideas and enterprise. For example, I think that if someone would said and done a thing like that with classical music or with jazz, all it would been bogged down. It’s the same for the others kinds of music, wich often become surrogates that repeat themselves continously because they lack the research.... And yet sometimes there are good minds, but they don’t let go themselves to exploration, staying to the few usual individual and/or group’s knowledges and inspirations.... I think that we would must expose us more. I take this for granted in all genres and for all the artists.

S. B.: Why did you work on recorded bases and not with a real orchestra? What’s the reason why you chosen the performance of the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra?

M. A.: I wish! It would be easier for me to play in front of the conductor.... but I let you imagine the costs of this operation; so I had to do like when I play it live, that is on recorded base. The choice of the orchestra it’s been obviously that because it was an album totally produced by Azzurra Music and so I had it at my disposal free. But I am very happy because, in my opinion, it’s an exellent performance conducted by a great conductor as Walter Attanasi, check it out.... Anyway I would like so much play it live with the orchestra and the choir. It would be already the orchestra, the choir and especially the conductor [one of the best young conductors (37 years old) at international level] in Hungary that believe and would approve this project.... but there’s not enough funds. Maybe one day....

S. B.:   Do you think to make some other record like this, tributing to some other masters, like Mozart or Chopin for exaple, or this Tribute to Beethoven will remains an extemporaneous episode?

M. A.:  I have more projects: since many years I’m thinking about the Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” (of which I formerly performed live the final more than once, some of those times when I was playing with Aldo Tagliapietra who has left me a place because he also likes my interpretation), but Azzurra Music doesn’t have the record of this opera and ask it to other labels (only the big companies have it, I think) could costs too much, but I still don’t despair….never say never, maybe with another label….I’m thinking also to the Beethoven’s Fifth which I would insert in a CD with “Le Sacre du Printemps”, which represent together an historic period in music’s evolution…. And then there would be other operas were drums could be inserted (all operas, why not? In my opinion it can fit in well….). I hope that it will doesn’t remain an isolated episode.

S. B.: Well, we’re arrived to the end of this interview; what do you want to say to our visitors?

M. A.: In first I want to thank and invite them to listening to the Tribute To Beethoven (and others cd’s of mine) and I wish to receive by e-mail their precious criticisms, any kind they will be. I hope to made myself exhaustive, to have been not argumentative and don’t have spoken too much. It’s my first real interview and for this I thank you Stefano for the pleasure and the opportunity that you given to me. I want to say also, thinking over, that we all live a sort of interview every day and this is the sensation that I had here; it’s been simple and spontaneous to give these thoughts because (not in these “clothes”) I give them daily to the music lovers, to the pupils (even if I don’t like to call them like this, because it would presume that I am a teacher and I don’t feel so!) and to all persons in general....Thanks to all! Bye!

S. B.: Ok! See you soon!!                                                                                                                                                               Stefano Bonelli