Contemporary jazz guitarist Enrico Degani reveals classical and modern roots
Enrico Degani is a poet with a guitar. On his latest album Corale, Degani crafts wind-swept images of transcendent beauty. It is modern jazz at its most atmospheric and dreamlike. Based in Sweden, Degani discusses how his affection for music propelled him to becoming an artist himself.
Q: What was your introduction to music? How old were you, and how did it affect you?
A: I can’t remember exactly when I started to be in love with music. I remember that when I was a child I was in love with the blues and I tried to sing all the melodies from recordings. I started to play guitar when I was eight. I was with my parents in the mountains, and I got stunned by a friend who was playing guitar. I then decided, against my parents’ will, to buy a guitar and start my journey into music. It was love at first sight. Since that day I have started to attend music schools, first as a classical guitarist and the as a jazz one.
Q: Did you grow up in a musical environment?
A: Both my parents are not musicians, music teachers or artists. By the way, there was always a lot of music in the house, and I always got encouraged to go on with music studies.
Q: When instruments do you play?
A: I play classical and electric guitars.
Q: What is the jazz scene like in Sweden?
A: I moved to Sweden two years ago; it was a big difference from Italy, where I come from. There is a lot of good professional musicians, especially experimental and contemporary jazz musicians. I have to say there is a really nice scene in Sweden, interesting and very international. I had the chance to collaborate with musicians from Norway, U.S., France, Japan, England, and the Netherlands.
Q: How do you feel about pushing the stylistic boundaries of jazz?
A: Music is often hard to label. The jazz tradition is a tradition of outsiders. Monk, Parker, Mingus, Davis; all of them have created a different approach to music and have brought elements from different aesthetics into jazz. Improvisation has been the glue of different kind of music and every great musician has gone for his own personal idea of art. Music has to push itself and expand traditions, since in my opinion everyone is unique and so every music is also.
Q: What artists influenced you the most growing up?
A: The most important person in my music journey is John Taylor. I met him in Siena Jazz when I was 17 and thanks to his magic I decided to try to be a musician. Anders Jormin has also a lot of importance for me. He led me to discover my inner voice, being not afraid to show it even though it is hard to shape it in a clear way. Also, my friend Andrea Ayace Ayassot made me grow a lot both as human and as a musician. He made me look upon music from a totally different point of view.
Q: How have you evolved creatively?
A: I love music because it is endless. It is a never ending journey if we go deep into different ways of organizing sounds, if we listen to different traditions in music, if we let the magic of live concerts to bring us into a magical world. Curiosity is the seed of creativity; sincerity is the seed of depth. I just want to surprise myself all the time and go for music with great humility, without lies, trying to explore myself from some corners I didn’t know before.