Tuesday, August 14, 2012
JJ Sansaverino Interview
Fresh off five weeks of worldwide touring, JJ Sansaverino brings his Nu Jazz band to perform at the Blue Note stage tonight. We caught up with JJ to talk to him about his musical beginnings, what we can anticipate for his show at the Blue Note, and what his hopes are for the future.
JJ: I grew up in a musical family. My Grandfather was a very well known singer in the Lower East side. My Grandmother sang opera and studied at Juilliard. My uncles sang in a Doo Wop band called Memories and performed for years around NY. So I became interested as a young boy. By the time I was 16, I knew I wanted to play professionally.
BLUE NOTE: It says on your bio that while attending the Berklee School of Music, you came to NYC every weekend to perform. I assume this must have been fairly stressful. Can you talk about your experience at Berklee and why you decided to attend even though you were returning to NYC so frequently?
JJ: I was performing regularly in NY before college, so it was important for me to continue playing around the Village while I was studying. To keep my name in the circuit. I chose an Arranging major at school so I was writing scores for small to big bands constantly. I needed an outlet to play my guitar. The traveling wasn't stressful to me because the bus ride was therapeutic, to be alone, think, and listen to music.
Berklee was a great experience. To have endless musicians and outlets available was awesome. The facilities and resources were amazing. I left because I missed playing live and traveling constantly. I returned because I still had much more to learn. It really gave me the opportunity to learn composing and arranging for strings, horns, and bigger ensembles.
BLUE NOTE: How did your band Nu Jazz form? Talk a little bit about the other musicians in your group and what we can expect from your performance at the Blue Note. Do you usually come in with a set list or do you tend to draw on the audience to dictate song selection?
JJ: Nu Jazz was created when I had the opportunity to work with one set of musicians regularly. Ze Luis Oliveira is my dear friend and a wonderfully blessed musician. He plays woodwinds and percussion. He co-produced my CD Sunshine After Midnight with myself and Alex Valenti. Etienne Lytle is an extremely talented keyboardist. We have been playing together for years. Thomas Gooding is my bassist. We have been traveling the world for years. Courtney Williams will be playing drums. We have worked together for years and he is playing for Eric Brown, who has a previous commitment. Courtney is an extremely energetic drummer who makes great solso. All of these guys are wonderful people and very talented musicians. It's an honor to be on stage with them.
As far as a set list, lately I have been making one in advance because I am trying to present more of a show instead of going song by song.
You can expect a very high energy show, with a blend of many genres. Lots of emotion and heart and soul. For our second show at 10:30 I will have a lot of special guests sitting in with us.
BLUE NOTE: You fuse a lot of different genres into your music. Can you talk about your influences and how they influence your unique sound? How would you describe your music?
JJ: I have been touring the world for 22 years, the last 12 with reggae legend Maxi Priest so reggae music is part of me. Jazz is the umbrella of many genres that I fuse including Latin, R&B, and good old rock guitar. The music carries so much emotion, that at different times different sounds, textures, and styles need to be used. I think my love of these genres helps give me a unique sound.
I have been influenced by many greats such as Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, George Benson, and Jimmy Hendrix as well as many R&B singers.
BLUE NOTE: You have garnered much critical acclaim and have achieved a great deal in your career thus far. What would you still like to accomplish? What can we expect from you in the upcoming future?
JJ: I feel so blessed to be here in this world to do good. God has given me so much talent, but most of all the ability to be able to reach audiences and people. I have traveled the world extensively and have seen how much joy myself and fellow musicians have given people. I have currently been on the road this tour for 5 weeks, traveling to London, St Maarten, Sri Lanka, Anguilla, Vancouver, Seattle, Arizona, New York, Qatar, Dubai, California, Florida, and more. Last year we were in Africa, Guam, Spain, Japan and other great places. My ultimate goal is to continue to record my music and tour to support it. It is very important for me to be God's messenger and deliver musical blessings to the world while caring for my family.