Sunday, November 10, 2013

Meet Claudio Ottaviano, Musician and Composer

Claudio Ottaviano is an Italian jazz double bass player, singer, and composer. Claudio is a native of Ragusa, in Sicily, but moved 10 years ago to Milan. This year he released Notturno, an album of italian jazz dedicated to the night, a collaboration with saxophonist Tino Tracanna and pianist Michele Franzini. To learn more about the album, check out this sample on YouTube; it is also available on iTunes.

1. When did you first start playing and composing music?

I started at 4 years old as a little piano student of our neighbor Alberta, and I grew up listening to Bird, Miles, and Ella because my mother was listening to jazz all the time. Then when I was 13, my father asked me, "Would you like to have a motorcycle or a to have a bass?" Well, gave him the wrong answer.

2. What attracted you to playing the double bass, and what are the particular pleasures and challenges of that instrument?

Double bass is an incredible instrument: beautiful as a violin but six times bigger! Except the weight, I love everything about this instrument: the shape, the wood, the deep sound, and playing it gives me real pleasure. The negative sides are that double bass is difficult and requires a life of study, and that an instrument-prosthesis so majestic sometimes can be disturbing.

3. What inspired your album, Notturno?

The album Notturno is a result of coincidences inspired by the night, and the compositions are excuses to let the music express itself. Saxophonist Tino Tracanna and pianist Michele Franzini did excellent work, performing with excellent sensitivity and mastery.

4. As a jazz artist, do you find that collaboration is an especially important aspect of your work?

Absolutely. Collaboration is the core, the essence of jazz! Working a lot as a sideman in many different bands and soundscapes I have the opportunity to change often my perspective and mindset, and I'll tell you, for a person "paranoid-trended" like me, collaboration (literally "to share struggle with somebody") is the cure and, the most important thing, I don't have to pay a psychoanalyst.

5. Do you find that "Italian jazz" has any unique qualities that characterize it and possibly distinguish it from jazz in a more general sense?

I may look unfashionable saying that I believe that you can't separate the person from the place/time, but you know, the ways of Jazz are infinite! In my case I am very attached to Sicily, where I was born, that gave me a bizarre baroque side, and to Veneto, that gave me a synthetic, spiritual view. Definitely, I feel like marked "made in Italy" in everything I do, but especially in my boundless love for melody.

Thanks, Claudio!

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