Interview with Portuguese pianist/singer Joao Galante - far beyond the common revue of the American songbook

"I think Jazz and Blues are more and more captivating audiences because people are getting tired of plastic sound and they feel the energy and the power generated by this great music."

João Galante: Jazz & Blues A La Carte

Presenting on hundreds of events all sorts of music over thirty years, as a special tribute to all his influences, the versatile Portuguese pianist and vocalist Joao Galante introduces in his album “Jazz’n’Blues a la carte” (2011), a complete and charismatic trip around the smashing songs of the greatest composers. Far beyond the common revue of the American songbook, he attempts to explore the great songs of such names as Memphis Slim, Bill Withers, from Al Jarreau to Harry Connick jr. Performing solo or featuring the JG trio, here’s a truly vibrating and unforgettable show.

Manuel Soares (ex-artistic director of Loulé Jazz Fest) says: "Traditionally, a crooner was a singer of ballads and popular songs. The term had even a pejorative connotation. However, names like Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Bennett have elevated the male singing, through the precious American Songbook repertoire, the status of art. Well, to reconcile the idea of "state of the art" which, as we have seen, the word crooner closes with the technical refinement and musical direction of pianist gifted and evolved, João Galante gives us what we call the Anglo-Saxon "artistry" - in this case, taking us back to names like Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. In a unique and very personal way”

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos by Filipe Oliveira and Joao Galante Archive / All rights reserved

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

I learned a whole bunch of lessons for life from the Blues. In every song I pick the experience, the soul and the love that help me to express myself on my own style.

How do you describe Joao Galante sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

"JG sound" is full of rhythm and fiercing chords influenced by my debut on drums, prior to the piano. My concerts are always filled with great passion and joy, offering to the audience the most vibrating and unforgettable moments.

Why did you think that the Blues and Jazz music continues to generate such a devoted following?

I think Jazz and Blues are more and more captivating audiences because people are getting tired of plastic sound and they feel the energy and the power generated by this great music.

"Comparing the Blues with our national music, the Fado, is something I have been trying to do."

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio which you’d like to share with us?

I have some great memories from live appearances on television and some special events featuring such names as Matt Lester, Javi Ortiz, Zé Eduardo and Duncan Kinnell. A couple of songs played with the great Jim Capaldi on a private event in Algarve, a couple of months before he passed away.

Are there any memories from the late Jim Capaldi which you’d like to share with us?

The great memory I keep from meeting the late Jim Capaldi was his great smile and strong attitude. Plus I cannot forget how much I started to tremble when all of a sudden he asked me to play "Love will keep us alive" featuring him on vocals - Gee, I didn't have a clue about that song, I could not even imagine that it was a great hit by The Eagles and here comes Mr. Capaldi writing on a piece of paper the chords for me. I couldn't believe I was deserving so much attention and care from that genius in music. Absolutely unforgettable!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Although I miss a lot of inspiration in the nowadays music and musicians, there are still a few striving on the scene and writing some good stuff. I think we should go back to the roots in the sense of writing songs with purpose and substance. There is still a lot to be said but it's so much difficult to sound new and original.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

If I could change something in the musical world I would definitely forbid all sort of playbacks in live music. It's a shame the promoters accept midi playbacks replacing real musicians.

"I learned a whole bunch of lessons for life from the Blues. In every song I pick the experience, the soul and the love that help me to express myself on my own style."

Make an account of the case of jazz blues in Portugal. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

There are quite a lot of Jazz festivals in Portugal but only a few for the Blues. Lots of young musicians are coming from some dedicated schools adding a new spice and charisma to our music scene.

Are there any similarities between the blues & jazz and the genres of local folk music and forms?

Comparing the Blues with our national music, the Fado, is something I have been trying to do. I already wrote a couple of originals to show the similarity, a song entitled "Meu Fado Blues irmão"

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I would obviously take the plane to New Orleans and Chicago and spend a whole day with Memphis Slim and Ray Charles.

Joao Galante - official website

Photos by Filipe Oliveira and Joao Galante Archive / All rights reserved

 

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