Fiona Ross Interviews…Marco Marconi
Marco Marconi is a classically-trained Jazz pianist who grew up in the breathtaking region of Umbria in Italy.
He made a life changing decision to move permanently to the UK in 2012, to pursue his musical career. I first met Marco at the London Jazz Platform event,
organized by the wonderful Sammy Stein, an event that brought together so many wonderful people in the Jazz world.
I have seen him perform several times since then – his album launch at the 606 was wonderful – and his performances are always fabulous – technically excellent, strong and emotional compositions and always with the perfect amount of crazy.
FR: Hi Marco! Welcome to the Jazz UK.
MM: Hi Fiona and Hi everyone. Thanks for having me – it’s a big pleasure for me to be interviewed by you……
FR: Thank you – the pleasure is all mine.
FR: You grew up in Umbria in Italy and decided to move permanently to the UK in 2012. What led you to that decision?
MM: Yes correct, I was born and grew up in Umbria which is a wonderful region in the center of Italy. But in August 2012 I moved to the UK just outside of London with my family. I married an English girl and we have a beautiful daughter called Emma who is now 10. As you know the global financial situation isn’t spectacular and in Italy it’s really bad so at that time I was teaching in 4 different schools, gigging around with my own Trio and some other project but week by week, the work situation started to decline.
It was so clear – less students, less gigs and during the summertime when normally you can play almost every day, that scenario was not happening. So, one day we decided to move to the UK for a better life and I have to say that I don’t have any regrets at all. For me, to be honest, the first 6 months were a nightmare because in Italy my reputation was strong and I was very well established, so to reset my life and my job starting from zero was really difficult – and really stressful but today, as I always say, I can tell you that I should have moved much earlier. I lost lots of time in Italy because this is a much better country full of great opportunities with a completely different mentality.
FR: How have you found the music scene in the UK compared to Italy?
MM: Music scene here is just great. No comparison with the Italian one and personally I am very happy indeed here, simply because what I built in 5 and half years in UK is much more than what I achieved in Italy in 20 years – believe or not! Why? Because here both music directors and venue owners are very respectful of your skills and the project you are leading, so everyone opens the door if your music is nice and interesting. In Italy, often is not easy to step in and the London jazz scene is buzzing of great musicians and you can share fantastic music – so many opportunities in this country.
FR: Who are your biggest inspirations and why?
MM: My buggiest inspiration? Hmmmm….. I don’t know really, I don’t have one in particular to be honest……maybe Keith Jarrett because his style is the deepest, I believe, but I can mention 50 different names because I love jazz – 360 degrees from ragtime to contemporary. But I also love Brazilian and Cuban music that’s why I dig into these two countries in the past and I am still digging to be honest – as for me it’s going be a life time job you know? I find it really important to listen to and learn from every musician, not only pianists – and that’s why I have studied the style of Miles, Parker, Coltrane, Bergonzi, Mulligan, Harrell, Baker.. I love Art Tatum, as well as Corea or Camilo but also Rubalcaba and many others… To be honest I want to avoid mentioning some as I should mention many more these are really just some of them… everyone is different and unique in the other hand so it is so important to learn from everyone I think.
FR: Do you have any pre-gig rituals? Or any dos and don’ts before performing?
MM: Before a concert I like to have at least 10 minutes to concentrate and focus on the set list including structures and other relevant details and nothing else. Silence is the best thing for me but often people come to you because they want to talk or buy a cd, so silence is not always possible. I don’t want to be impolite you know? That fact that people are there for you is wonderful and I am always so thankful and respectful – but I prefer to meet all of them after the concert.
FR: Most memorable gig?
MM: Oh blimey, ha, it’s difficult to say but maybe the 1st concert I performed in UK has been very emotional for two reasons. It was a piano solo concert, which is one of the most difficult things to do for me as musician. It’s so hard to keep people awake for two hours plus it was the 1st concert in UK as I said… I was performing at Cheltenham Jazz fringe festival in 2009 and my knowledge of English at that time was so poor indeed. I remember that my biggest struggle was announcing numbers and introducing myself. I had prepared for two weeks before while I was in Italy……. that was the thing I have practiced the most really…. funny, isn’t it?
FR: You took the role of producer on your last album. Was that your first time as producer? How did you find that experience?
MM: Yes, I did and it was such an amazing experience. I co-produced ‘Trialogue’ with Paul Jolly who is my actual producer. It was fantastic to arrange everything both musically and technically……. when you think about front cover design, manufacture, expenses and lots of time go away – to be honest I prefer to spend every spare minute on the piano but that is not possible when you produce yourself which involves your musicians and lots of other people. But I did like this and I will never give up for sure.
FR: Living and working as a musician, can be hard. What drives you to do what you do?
MM: I am a very positive man and I always hope in a better future and I work hard every day to achieve it. Since I moved here, I have had the aim to expand my name as much as I could and I have to say that I did very well so far…Last year in agreement with Paul, my producer, we got to the point that I really needed of an agent or manager – whoever it is because I just don’t have enough time to manage my life with the amount of things I have to do every day…..
I currently have 34 students + family and I have to find time to practice piano and be a better pianist every day, improving as much as I can, so for these reasons, I have decided to look for a serious manager. But this wasn‘t easy at all because the music industry is practically dead and managers prefer to not increase their roster. Instead, they prefer to work for less artists…… but, just last month I managed to sign a contract with a really serious manager and also with a publisher as well. So now, after five years spent in this country, I am a signed artist with a manager and a publisher!!! I am so, so happy indeed because this is the year of progress for me and in particular this means lot to me in terms of hard work; it definitely is a huge satisfaction for me and my producer.
FR: What are you working on at the moment – any new albums on the horizon?
MM: Yes…..but I cant tell you!!!!
FR: Thank you so much Marco – it has been immense fun talking to you!
MM: Thank you very much indeed for this interview as I enjoyed so much. Thank you everyone.