Issue 123, Interview with Silvano Monasterios

I’m truly happy to present our first interview with one of the most talented pianists on the planet today… I want to thank Silvano for taking time out of his schedule to give us a few of his thoughts and insights… if you love to listen to highly-talented piano jazz, you just won’t be able to do without some of his music in your collection!

You may wish to watch/listen to this superb video performance while you read the interview… up to you, of course!

Zzaj: Silvano, please tell our readers how you wound up coming all the way from Venezuela to our shores… you know, write an “off-the-cuff” bio telling us (both musically and personally) where you came from, where you stopped along the way & where you’re headed now.

Silvano:  The story is so long and complicated that it takes epic proportions. Let’s just say that the forces that move the universe brought me to Miami. Thanks to my participation in 1989 in a Jazz piano competition held at Miami Dade College during the first (and last) Miami Jazz Festival, I was able to win the competition, earn a music scholarship and move to Florida the next year. Growing up, like any other young and aspiring jazz musician, my dream was to move to New York. But life gave Miami, where I have lived for almost 22 years.

Zzaj: Being a (bit of a) keyboard player myself, I can tell you that I truly admire the expressiveness you are able to get out of the keyboards you play… tell us (if you can) what your “secret” is… or if it all just came naturally…

Silvano:  I suppose that my constant search for melodic content is what results in what you call “expressiveness”. That would be my best guess

Zzaj: One of the most impressive things (to me) about your piano playing is the super-speed runs you are able to make… I would assume that is because of years of practice… am I right, or is there another reason why you’re “faster than most”?

Silvano:  Yes, I would like to think that all this years of hard work are finally paying off!

Zzaj: In your own personal listening collection, who do you listen to most? Is part of your listening a learning experience, or do you listen more for “fun” than anything else? Who would you recommend to our readers?

Silvano:  Listening (and playing) not only jazz, but in general, all kind of musical styles has been a vital element in my development as a player as well as a writer. However, whatever I listen to it has to be engaging at some level to begin with. So my recommendation is first let the music take you places, then analyze it afterwards.

Zzaj: Since you’ve been away from your homeland for a while (or, I assume you have, anyway), where do you find you have a stronger fan base? Here in the States, or in Latin America? Or, is it about equal?

Silvano:  I would have to say that it is slightly bigger outside of my native country, which is in a way sad. I just wish it was just larger anywhere!

Zzaj: I’ve noticed when reviewing your CD’s that you record an awful lot of original pieces (which is FANTASTIC, from this reviewer’s perspective, anyway)… so, since you’re a prolific composer, what drives you to write music? Is it a “little voice”, or is it a more “spiritual” experience for you?

Silvano:  In order to be a consistent writer, you must really work every day. Inspiration is not very reliable, since she comes and goes when she pleases. Therefore, to have the discipline to sit down and work at the craft of writing is a must for someone who attempts to compose as much as I do.

Zzaj: Our readers always love to know “what’s what” – so please tell us what projects (or releases) you have coming up soon… if they’re releases, links to song samples would be greatly appreciated… either way, please tell us who will be playing with you, & why you’re excited about the upcoming project(s).

Silvano:  At this moment I am concentrated on writing my next CD for Savant Records, which I expect to record at the end of this year, even though “Unconditional” was released only 8 months ago. I just finished recording a new album by bassist Gabriel Vivas of very challenging and fun music, which will be out later this year, and I will be recording this summer the new album by saxophonist Troy Roberts, who is one of my favorites new jazz artists.

Zzaj: Who would you most love to play with that you haven’t already?

Silvano:  Honestly, I’m just interested in working with artists that are as passionate as I am about their work. Names and locations are not as important.

Zzaj: Which do you enjoy more, live performance or studio recording? Either way, please tell us the pleasures (& pains) of both.

Silvano:  Live performance, without a doubt. There is something very special about    the sincerity that stems out of being immerse in the moment during a live performance that is irreplaceable and sometimes simply indescribable.

Zzaj: I would imagine that it took you a lot of work/practice/blood/sweat/tears to achieve your musical goals (if I’m wrong, & it all came naturally, tell us about that, too)… if that’s true, please tell our readers, especially those who are aspiring musicians, why a musical career is worth pursuing?

Silvano:  Your imagination is correct. Any career that generates passion, that engages your whole being, that makes you feel authentic, embodying who you really are, is definitely worth pursuing. If music or any other field is able to do all those things for you, it would be a waste and a tragedy not to pursue