Jazz musician combines Beethoven with The Beatles
Publication: MOVE Magazine
By: Angie Andera
Date: December 3, 2010
For jazz pianist Joey Calderazzo, music has always been a part of his life. The piano first struck a chord with the musician when his childhood friend took up the instrument.
“My next door neighbor played the piano and always had to practice, so instead of going home I’d stay and watch him practice,” Calderazzo said. “I thought it was something I could do too, so at about eight I asked to take piano lessons.”
At the age of 17, Calderazzo got his foot in the door of the music industry by sitting in with New York jazz musicians.
“I would go to jam sessions, or I would have a friend that played with somebody and let me sit in with them,” Calderazzo said. “I played wherever they let me play.”
The jazz aficionado has since experienced an impressive amount of success, performing with Michael Brecker, the Branford Marsalis Quartet and the Joey Calderazzo Trio.
The musician creates a collective sound, combining influences as varied as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Wynton Kelly and Beethoven.
“My music is a collage of everything I’ve listened to,” Calderazzo said. “I kind of try to steal the best stuff I can and make it my own.”
Calderazzo attempts to reinvent songs by incorporating his personal style.
“We all have a personality,” Calderazzo said. “You could get five guys or five women or a combination of both that will play the same idea differently. That’s kind of the goal, so there are certain ways that I attack the piano or a certain sound that I try to achieve on the piano.”
The pianist thrives on performing live and feeding off his fellow musicians on stage.
“When performing live, there’s a certain kind of energy that can’t be replaced,” Calderazzo said. “I love being out there and allowing the music to happen. I’m not a guy that really likes to rehearse. It’s not going to be bunch of slick arrangements. We’re trying to get to the essence or core of improvising over specific songs.”
When not performing music himself, Calderazzo teaches students how to play. He advises his students to focus on the heart of music, rather than obsess over details.
“When you try too hard, you can set yourself up for failure,” Calderazzo said. “I tell my students that the goal is to learn all this stuff and then do their best to forget it. There’s certain vocabulary and chords and scales that I have put a lot of work into memorizing and practicing over songs, but it reaches a point where I’ve tried to forget all of it so I can just make music.”
Despite his immense talent and years of experience, the 45-year-old musician still possesses the determination to fine-tune his skills.
“Every now and then, I’ll examine my weaknesses and try to fill in the gaps because we all have them,” Calderazzo said. “I don’t want to be a guy that is strong at something and weak at others. I want to be well-rounded. It’s important to me to work on the whole package as opposed to being a one-trick pony.”
Calderazzo’s unmistakable resolve to succeed is the driving force behind his music.
“Music is the goal,” Calderazzo said. “Music is what we’re trying to accomplish.”