BluesWax Sittin’ In With
By Robert Putignano
In Part Two of his interview with Robert Putignano, Italian guitarist Enrico Crivellaro talks about Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, and many other who have influenced his music.
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: You’ll dig this, Carlton’s 335 record label keeps telling me that they are soon to release another Larry Carlton/Robben Ford album, but this one will be acoustic.
Enrico Crivillaro: Wow! Good to see they are back together again. I really enjoyed Larry and Robben’s Live in Tokyo album.
BW: That one really knocked me on my butt.
EC: Oh yeah, it was fantastic!
BW: Larry told me that the objective of that album was to let the opposite guy take the big solo on the guy who wrote it. For example, Carlton took the longer solo on Robben’s “Talk to Your Daughter.”
EC: What a great idea! It goes to show how good friends they are, they were never really competitors, they love to play music together, and it’s obvious. I really liked the first Yellowjackets album with Robben,
BW: I actually saw them once with Robben. Enrico, what’s your Web site?
BW: Thanks for adding my name and Downbeat magazine’s Frank-John Hadley’s quotes on Freewheelin’. Frank is a good friend who, as you know, likes you a lot, too.
EC: There have been some people that have been following my career for a long time, so I feel its right to make mention of these things. You’ve been very supportive, and your support means a lot. I was blown away by Downbeat’s review of Mojo Zone.
BW: I think you are going to see a lot more strong reviews for Freewheelin’ soon; checkout the next issue of Blues Revue when it comes out… The band really gels on this new record. Mojo Zone was more of blowout for you.
EC: I’m happy you noticed this. We really went for more of a band sound, that was our objective. The other thing is that we became more comfortable in the studio. On purpose we choose to go back to the same studio where we recorded Mojo Zone because we knew what the album would sound like. So when you are comfortable with the sound, it’s almost like playing live, but I think we could use a little more interplay between the four of us.
EC: Yeah, and we know we can become a stronger unit in time.
BW: Your keyboard player, Pietro Taucher, is very impressive, not only with his playing but also with his writing.
EC: He contributed three songs to the new album, but he has so many more. In fact I keep telling him that he needs to make his own record, too.
BW: I also like your bass player, Simone Serafini.
EC: He’s also excellent. If I may say, this band is really phenomenal, so much so I would think that even in the USA it would be hard to find musicians like this. I’m very lucky to be able work with these people, plus we are also all good friends and we get along well.
BW: It’s not likely that you can go and hire Joe Sample, Bernard Purdie, and Chuck Rainey. By the way, Rainey’s recovering from a recent stroke and can’t play. I also just heard that there’s a benefit being organized for him in New York City at B.B. King’s. Speaking of those old-school players, it’s great to see Jerry Jemmott out there playing with Gregg Allman, too.
EC: I know, Bruce Katz [who played with Ronnie Earl] is also in Gregg’s band.
BW: Speaking of the Allmans, this track Taucher wrote, “Forever Free (for Gregg and Duane),” is very nice, but I don’t get the Allman connection.
EC: No, we wanted to pay a tribute to the Allman Brothers. That song to me was the most connected to the Allman Brothers, even though it doesn’t sound like the Allmans. I feel you can write and play any kind of piece and dedicate it to anyone; it was more like a tribute to Gregg and Duane, not a copy.
BW: Your’s and Taucher’s interpretation?
BW: I had to ask to see if I was missing something.
EC: Many of the songs on Freewheelin’ are tributes to our influences.
BW: And I enjoyed reading your detailed track-by- track liner notes.
EC: Thank you, I think it helps, especially since we make all-instrumental albums with no singers.
BW: And “Hymn to King Solomon” sounds nothing like [Solomon] Burke would ever do, but it’s a killer track.
EC: I’m very happy the way that tune turned out. We were in the studio rehearsing that track and it was about half the speed than it turned out to be. But while we were recording I received a phone call from a friend saying that Solomon Burke had passed away. So we started to play it faster as the emotions kicked in and we decided to dedicate the song to Solomon, the spirit was there.
BW: It also was gutsy for you to cover Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood,” and it’s beautiful cover.
EC: Like you told me in your email, I appreciated that you called this effort “very brave.” You know I like to play different styles, so no matter if you are a blues player or a jazz player, but when a blues guy covers Duke Ellington, I cannot help to feel that I’m in a dangerous place.
BW: I am sure you won’t play Ellington at the Blues Music Awards?
EC: [Laughing] No!
BW: I am certain it depends on the venue, like if you came to New York City and played the Iridium, where they book jazz, blues, and rock, it would work there.
EC: For sure! In fact, because this band is a little special, so there are times we get a call to play at a blues festival, but I’m often asked, “Can you bring a singer?”
BW: And that’s not your point, to play with a singer.
EC: That’s right. Yet we also get to play jazz festivals, too, so I give some blues to the jazz people, plus I give some jazz to the Blues attendees, too. So it’s fun to have a repertoire that allows us to do this.
BW: Kind of like Dick Shurman told me, the in-between players, those who can dish out blues with jazz, and vice versa.
EC: This worries me as some blues people might say this guy can’t play jazz, and some jazz fans say that I cannot play blues.
BW: Nah, besides you were schooled and taught by Ronnie Earl. Who skirts blues and jazz better than Ronnie?
EC: That’s right; Ronnie was one of my biggest inspirations. To see anyone play with his kind of intensity, and I feel that at some point it doesn’t matter which style of music you play in, especially when you can play it like Ronnie Earl. Music is supposed to be played with his kind of emotion and power.
BW: And like you, he’s, for the most part, an instrumental bandleader, and I feel that’s what he does best.
EC: That’s right. He was also very brave when he decided that he was going to become an instrumental bandleader.
BW: Especially at the time he decided to go instrumental.
EC: Ronnie was the only one.
BW: On that note, I am going to let you go. Do you have any final thoughts?
EC: Well, it’s not exactly next door to you in New York City, but I will be playing at the Tremblant Blues fest, so feel free to come up to me and say hi. That will be on July 6, 7, and 8.
BW: I will see you there. Someday it will be nice to get you and your band to play in New York. You’ve never played here?
EC: No, just at a few jams. I would like to play my own gig, but I did get to play at Manny’s Carwash and at Mexicali Live too, but those were jam sessions.
BW: It’s going to happen for you Enrico, you know I think the world of you, so keep on keeping on.
EC: Bob, thank you very much. I really don’t know what to say? You caught me off-guard, but thanks for your ongoing support.
BW: Well that’s what I feel, so that’s the love you are going to get.
Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax and a contributing writer at Blues Revue. He is also the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.
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