Mattia Bourgis Interview
Tell us a bit about yourself.
“I’m 35 years old and in my 20th year in music. I started in rock music but quickly I moved to playing blues. I was confused at that moment, so I learnt the music from the roots.”
“I studied music at a conservatory for classical music in Rome, the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, and after years of playing in orchestras I decided to move to jazz. And jazz for a drummer is freedom, it’s the only music where you can really express yourself. There’s the interplay! You can play the same tune in a different manner every time. That is why you need a wide background. I have to thank Antonio Sanchez and Jeff Ballard for their contribution to my background. They helped me a lot with Swing and to understand that you need your own sound and to get that sound you have to study very basic stuff. Lots of drummers like to get to a higher level by doing exercises from books but then maybe can’t remember everything. Playing in a trio is like an exam for a drummer. It’s really hard and you have to be really focused. It can be boring for the others if you are not concentrating.”
“I’m here now and I’m playing with very good musicians. I’m happy to play with Wayne McConnell, Terry Pack, Jack Kendon, Will Gardner, Steve Thompson and Paul Richards amongst others. Everyone is really good and I’m happy to see so many students who are really passionate about music.”
Tell us about the gig that you’re doing here at The Verdict (on Saturday 29th March).
“It’s with a really amazing pianist called Karim Blal. He’s Italian and very talented. He won a prize in Italy for talented jazz musicians [The Jimmy Woode Award, 2009]. He’s living in Paris now. His first work as a leader was an album that was amazing, with Gregory Hutchinson on drums and Giuseppe Talone on bass. So I’ve fallen in love with that album and I just asked him to put something together and fortunately he said yes, so I took a date here. We are trying to get a list of very open different kinds of music, for the audience as well as musicians.”
Who else is playing?
“We had a problem with getting a bass player. I booked an Italian guy from London but he’s on tour now with a pop band. Then we booked George Trebar but he was up for that for only one month and then left for another gig as well. So I asked bassist Paul Whitten after I played with him down at The Bristol Arms with Jack Kendon. It was really good playing with him so maybe it’s third time lucky.”
“It should be different, but Karim is a different kind of player and can bring some different colour and sounds.”
Tell us a bit about the Italian jazz scene and your experiences.
“I don’t want to be impolite about my country but unfortunately for Italy, but fortunately for me, I find that in Brighton there is an environment that is stronger than in Italy. In Italy everyone is friends with their fellow musicians, it’s a very close-knit environment in the jazz scene. For example, I played for years at jam sessions around the city and nobody asked me to do a gig so you really have to promote your image and everything. In Italy it’s very difficult as the level is so high. At the moment there’s Gregory Hutchinson and there was also Jeff Ballard. I left a lot of good musicians behind, along with students, but I found the need to change.”
What other things are you planning to do?
“I’m motivated to do every kind of music. As musicians we have to be open and do session work. I love Radiohead and Pink Floyd. It’s my background. It’s better to have a good melting pot with good flavour.”
“I spoke once with Italian pianist Antonio Ciacca who lived for years in New York. He said the most important thing is for every musician is to have more possibility. In the same tune you can create a lot of colours if you have these colours. Other musicians love a drummer who can create lots of rhythmic possibilities.”
Mattia Bourgis performs with Karim Blal and Paul Whitten at The Verdict, Brighton on Saturday 29th March, 2014.
Mattia Bourgis was interviewed by Charlie Anderson.