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A Half-dozen With Phil Maturano

Phil Maturano doesn’t like to sit still. Constantly on the move, this year alone he has been in New York, Germany, Italy, India and Argentina — and 2014 ain’t over yet! Somehow, through a hectic schedule of clinics, teaching, performing, artist residencies and recording the educational DVD, “Inner Clock 2”, Phil managed to find time to release his third album. We sat down with SABIAN artist Phil Maturano on the eve of the release of “At Home Everywhere”.

This is your first release since The Buenos Aires sessions in 2009. Why the long wait?
A: Well there are several reasons really. The most significant being that my schedule just didn’t permit time to sit and write music I could be satisfied with. To some extent it’s the common “perfectionist syndrome” where you want everything to be as good as possible. Another issue would be inspiration, the motivation for making a new CD. I don’t like to do something this big unless I really feel in my gut there is something I would like to express. And recent events like my extended stay in India really filled me with new ideas and vocabulary that is very interesting. The mixture of that and Jazz and Latin jazz was brewing in my head and I just couldn’t keep it from coming out. I did a lot of playing with great percussionists in India like Selva Ganesh, Amit Choubey, Prapancham Ravindran and many others! I even did a tour with Pete Lockett all over India, big halls and great audiences. It was truly a life-changing experience being over there and really checking out that music and the culture.


You’re constantly on the move and never in one place for more than a minute! Is that the theme behind “At Home Everywhere”?

A: Yes, “At Home Everywhere” is because of all the incredible traveling that I’ve done over the last 10 years or so. Drumming is a great vehicle for that. And once you see so many places and meet so many different people you realize of course that we truly are joined by the unity being on this amazing planet. It’s a funny thing having layouts of so many cities in your head. That you can tell taxi drivers which way you to go in so many countries. Knowing about great restaurants in Chennai as well as Buenos Aires or New York. The feeling permeates the music on the CD I think. There is a heavy jazz influence from the US. But also a heavy Cuban influence and of course the Indian influence. All my experiences in the last few years are summed up in the CD.


Was it tough just finishing up work on Inner Clock 2, then jumping right into recording a jazz album?

A: Compositionally yes, it was a challenge. Inner Clock 2 was all about writing for Drummers specifically. And although I really stretched my limits while composing that project, when it comes to Jazz and writing with great piano players and great bass players in mind, well that’s a whole other story. The realization that music is a communal art form really hit me hard again. There’s no way anyone can do everything by themselves really. Musicians need each other to make great music. It would take me another lifetime to play piano like Matthew Fries for example. And his harmonic knowledge is way better than mine. On the other hand drumming requires a different mindset, in the sense that rhythmically we always need to be rhythmically more aware then other players. So the challenge really was more about composition than drumming. Inner clock 2 has such a wide range of styles in it that my chops were ready to record. And of course straight ahead jazz is my first love!


Your last two releases were recorded in Buenos Aires and Koln. Was it a different experience making a jazz record in NY?

A: Actually the CD before this one — New York / Cologne project — was also recorded in New York. Just features a great pianist from Cologne that I had worked with a lot in Europe, Christian Torkewitz. But I have done a lot of recording in Europe. I must say that the best thing about recording in New York is that you really feel the energy of the city when you are there. The fire of Jazz! It’s very inspiring and in turn that affects the music. To me there is no other city in the world that identifies with Jazz more than New York.


Let’s talk about your instruments for a minute. Was there any one cymbal that really stood out for you while making this new record?

A: Well, another reason I was so inspired to do this cd, is because of my new instruments. My custom jazz set up actually influenced the writing. We all know what a dream it is to have custom cymbals made, with the sound that you dream of. A kid in a candy store would be jealous of me, haha! They sound so sweet and there’s so much music already inside of them. The pleasure I get from just hearing and playing them is so great that I just wanted to write music around them. In the process of writing I could hear the sound of the cymbals in my head and imagined how I could play to get the sound I wanted out of them. Yes I know it sounds a bit obsessive, hahaha! But the search for the sound has been long and difficult. Finally having these babies in my hand well it’s indescribable. It’s hard to say which one in particular stood out for me because the way we designed them is that each have a complementary roll. They all fit together within the structure of music, they each have their own function. The interplay between them is essential in creating tension release in the music. The beauty of the set-up is that they complement each other. And it’s almost like it creates one sound, one vibe. When I spoke to Mark love about the idea for the sound, I had this whole specific image in my brain. And he was an essential part of getting that image onto the cymbals. Mark and the craftsmen at the factory are obviously masters at what they do. And when that set up was born, well it’s like a day I’ll never forget. On occasion I even go back and watch the videos of the day we made them and I’m so grateful to finally have the sound of been looking for. The set up you see in the Sabian Experience video on the Sabian Vault YouTube channel is the same exact set up I have on the CD.


Any plans to tour the trio in support of At Home Everywhere?

A: Sure is! I’m currently on a concert and clinic tour in Italy. my next stop is South America touring mainly Argentina then it’s off to India in November playing with Pete Lockett. After that I’ll be in LA doing some gigs, hopefully playing at the NAMM show. By February 2015 it’s back to Europe for more touring in Germany. Will be a heavy promotion schedule and I think the CD is something I am very proud of and I would like to see it go as far as possible.

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