This weeks spotlight is on Italian bassist Vincenzo (Viz) Maurogiovanni. Viz is the winner of the 2007 Euro Bass Day and was given the award of “Best European Rising Bass Player” and also recieved first place in the “Bassmaster” international electric Bass contest in Croatia in 2010.
Viz has recorded and performed with many artists including Michele Campobasso, Simone Clarelli, Antonio Imparato, Alessandro Napolitano, John Maida, Phil Maturano, jazz guitarist John Stowell (whom he will be touring with this year) and many other great players.
JS – At what age did you start your musical studies? On Bass? Drums?
VIZ – Well, it’s a long story, I’ll try and simplify. I discovered I had perfect pitch at age 12. I played TV jingles on the keyboard without any musical knowledge. I started playing drums constantly at 17, and started playing bass at 20.
JS – Who were your earliest influences?
VIZ – When I was child, I listened to lyrical, classical and golden swing era classics from my family’s old record player, and my mother made me watch many beautiful movies with amazing soundtracks, Superman, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Once upon a Time in America, The Graduate, Vincent Price movies, classic italian movies.
JS – You play a lot of beautiful chordal pieces. When did you start to play like this, where did the inspiration to play like this come from?
VIZ – Thank you , glad you like it. Fundamentally, when I think of the instrument, I think of all possibilities I can use. I have in mind the music, not the bass playing, according to the style, I express my musical tendency. I developed my polyphonic technique in a natural way, trying to put out of my mind the music flowing from myself.
JS – What are you currently working on?
VIZ – Many projects coming out, just now my second leader album “Tempus Fugit” was released worldwide on sale. Original compositions by me and the amazing piano/keyboard player Michele Campobasso. Featuring excellent musicians; Pierluigi Villani and Giovanni Giorgi on drums and Rocco Zifarelli on guitar.
Working on my third album with the good friend and awesome drummer Alessandro Napolitano and Michele Campobasso, that’s my actual trio. We are also planning an album tour.
An october Apulian tour with the jazz legend John Stowell, and many other collaborations.
Making a project (with the spanish genius of luthery, Javier Lopez of Janaid guitars, my spanish brother) of a multi-instrument, you will see it this winter. He builds the finest basses I ever played, now he’s coming to Italy to show his masterpieces.
JS – It seems you like to send the message that being an artist and being true to your own voice and vision is most important. Can you please elaborate on that for me?
VIZ – Yes, that is true: I think everybody has his own voice, we have to listen to ourselves, develop our language: originality helps us to be remembered throughout the times. I play special instruments , built according to my voice, because I believe that if you have a talent, you have to spread it with the maximum amount of sincerity. We have to not think about money, we have to first think about art, we can make the world better with the spirit of art. Often the most diffused idea of music is spread though medias, but most of that music was made to make money, with no love for creativity and art. I always say to my students, It doesn’t matter how you dress or move or your hairstyle, plug in your instrument and tell the world your story made of notes.
In my musical career I look for original collaborations, that surpass styles, techniques, I like to tell my stories with my instrument, I like to listen, to learn and enrich my vocabulary with new words, taken from jazz, classical, movie soundtracks, fusion, ethnic.
JS – I know you endorse Janaid guitars, do you endorse any other companies?
VIZ – I only endorse Janaid Guitars, I’m more than happy to represent such an excellent luthier.
I also endorse Galli strings, Guitarstraps.it and Stefy Line bags. About amps, I’m looking for a new good endorsement, any suggestions?
JS – You won Bassmaster international in Croatia. What was that experience like? How did that feel?
VIZ – I remember that day with happiness, all was relaxed. I came on stage and told my story, and won the first prize, with no tension or stress at all. I met amazing musicians and people. Croatia is Beautiful and Igor Polak, the event master, was really hospitable, I will go this fall to Croatia with Janaid. I will be a jury member of the “Bass Master” and the first prize this year will be a Janaid Guitars 4 string handmade bass.
JS – The electric bass has evolved so much in its already short life span of 50 or so years, it seems to me that what you are playing is it’s current evolution. Do you have any thoughts on where we may go next?
VIZ – That’s right, electric bass had a fast evolution because of the improved spreading of culture, the developement of music academies. Many people when watching an extended range instrument say too many strings, my answer is, Evolution. It doesn’t matter how many strings an instrument has, or the technique you play, the most important thing is the quality of the music you can produce through it. People sometimes are scared by the news, because they do not feel appropriate to manage it, but evolution is an unavoidable part of our life. The most important thing is to study the tradition, because innovation without tradition doesn’t make sense. That’s like building a skyscraper from the last floor. I cannot imagine how much beautiful things the human being will discover, everyday is a new day, no limits!
JS – What do you feel is important for younger players to know/experience these days?
VIZ – About young players, the most important thing is to grow up in a good cultural environment, because if in your childhood you grew up listening, speaking, eating a large variety of things, your mind will be ready to receive all the information you need to be a good player, because music reflects everyone’s nature, you play what you’re made of. Read books, watch good movies, speak with many people, visit foreign lands, enrich your mind and your eyes, and your music will be better.
JS – Let’s pretend there was a bass vault/time capsule to be opened 100 years from now and you could put 5 of your best lines in there, which would you choose?
VIZ – My bass lines on “Sfere” by Michele Campobasso”, “Danza d’autunno”, “My Mediterranea”, and Campobasso’s “Scout”, and my line on the standard “Here’s That Rainy Day”, played my me, Michele Campobasso and Alessandro Napolitano.
JS – How about 5 bass lines from other players, which would you choose?
VIZ – Let me think… Anthony Jackson’s bass line in Steely Dan’s “Glamour Profession”, Jaco’s “Havona”, “Rocco Prestia’s line in ” Oakland stroke” from Tower of Power, “Manos de Piedra” from Jeff Berlin, and Scott la Faro’s line in “Waltz for Debby”, but it’s very hard to choose only five lines.
Thank you to Mr. Vincenzo Maurogiovanni for your inspiring words and beautiful bass lines!
Enjoy your BASS!!!