Marco Pacassoni: ‘I am influenced by mediterranean melodies that keep the audience flying’

It’s not everyday that we get to welcome Italian jazz artists in Australia. Sure, there have been a few jazz masters, like Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani, who made the journey in the last decade, but the opportunity to go and discover a new artist, who is not a household name, plays one of the most beautiful, yet not very common, instruments, has worked with great musicians from the US, Europe, and beyond — and is willing to share the stage with his Australian colleagues? That’s really special. Marco Pacassoni is doing this exact thing, touring Australia these days, and introducing audiences to his music.

What brought you to Australia?

The dream to visit a wonderful country for the first time. Sometimes dreams come true. I got called from Sydney’s Italian Institute of Culture, who asked me to perform in Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney. After that, I also booked Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

How is the tour going so far?

So far everything is like I dreamed. People were interested to meet and listen to [an artist new to] this country, [and are] and very open to listen to new music. It’s going so well, with great success on the concerts I’ve already had in Perth and Adelaide. People like the vibraphone and my compositions a lot and I’m honoured by how they also bring my music home getting my CDs after the concerts.

You’re playing with a different rhythm section at every venue; how has this been?

The idea was to make an interesting cultural exchange with Australian musicians and I came out with great rhythm sections, great talented artists that were well prepared and open to play my music.

In Perth, I had the unique duo concert with pianist Chris Foster — a great combination between those two wonderful instruments that got people so interested and participating!

What would you tell people to get them to come to your concerts? What should they expect?

At first they get to know a different instrument: the vibraphone. Not very usual to find on a concert hall, but very fascinating and magical with its sound — very melodic, but at the same time rhythmical. Then, to know my music, influenced by all styles, from jazz to latin, to fusion to contemporary, where the melody is the main protagonist of the concert. I’m influenced by mediterranean melodies that keep the audience flying with our music for [the whole duration of the] concert.

What has your journey in music been like?

I started playing drums when I was very young, and after a while, at the age of 11, I started [studying at] the Conservatory where I had the opportunity to [get to know] the vibraphone. After the graduation I moved to Boston, USA, where I got a Bachelor in Professional Music at the Berklee College of Music. After that I got back to Italy, [to my hometown] Fano, where I started teaching — I’m a member of the percussion faculty at the Liceo Musicale Marconi in Pesaro — and performing in Europe, Asia, USA, and now I can say also AUSTRALIA!

Why did you choose the vibraphone as your instrument?

I loved drums but also piano and composition, this why I decided to play the vibraphone and marimba; it sits right in the middle of both — a piano played with mallets. I’m joking, of course!

You’ve worked with some of the greatest living jazz musicians; how has this experience been?

[It’s been] a gift for me to play with such a great artists, such as John Patitucci, Michel Camilo, Antonio Sanchez, and Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez, among many others, because they are very unique in music and also in life: great [people] with the passion to share great musicianship and friendship with [whomever] they perform. Humility is the secret of their success and I’m trying to ‘steal’ every particular thing about their approach to life and music.

What does ‘jazz’ mean to you?

For me jazz is freedom to play what I am.
My style of composition and performance is to get influenced by all of music and this is a great thing because at my concerts you can enjoy a beautiful ballad but then switch to a rock or latin song.

Marco Pacassoni is playing at the Paris Cat, in Melbourne on Thursday 15/9 (with Anton Schultz and Ollie Shute) and at Smith’s Alternative in Canberra on Friday 16/9 (with Eric Ajaye and Mark Sutton)