Q&A with Mick Valentino, guitar player for Blu’u Prophets
June 27, 2007
Q: You are quite a jazz historian, aren’t you?
A: I am true a student. It’s a brand new art form if you look at the scheme of things. Classical music, Vivaldi, wrote something in 1679 that’s still being appreciated 300 years-plus after the fact. Jazz, as a true developed art form, has only been around less than 100 years. It’s a relatively new art form.
Q: When was the most seminal time?
A: When we had a young Howard Roberts and real young Wes Montgomery, and a still-alive Charlie Parker. And they’re rockin’ it. It was a very magical era for all musics. From about 1938 to 1965, in the jazz idiom, it just morphed.
Q: Why do you enjoy playing jazz?
A: Jazz is American music. It’s the fabric of our country. We enjoy keeping the continuum of it and to educate people as to just what America is about. We’re just proud to extend the art form. I always like to comment when Rocky (Tatarelli) gets done with a sax solo and the crowd goes wild. I look into the audience and say “You can’t get that at Wal-Mart.”
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Q: Sometimes jazz gets a bad rap, doesn’t it?
A: It’s unfortunate. In a way jazz music was always portrayed in the media as the devil’s music and the music of heroin and it was evil, and that was untrue. There were a lot of pioneers who weren’t about that. Benny Goodman’s one. Dizzy Gillespie’s another. They lived well into their 70s, possibly 80s. Max Roach is one of the heroes of clean living. He’s 80. He invented the stuff. It wasn’t about drugs. And Charlie Parker was one of those guys who comes around about once every 500 years that changes the course of history and he dies at 36 years old by just abusing himself. A psychologist pointed out there is a thin line between genius and insanity. And that’s what Charlie Parker suffered with.
Q: What about personal expression?
A: When it’s time for your solo, everybody’s got something to say. No two solos are the same. It’s a beautiful thing.
Q: So jazz has plenty of room to evolve?
A: You can’t pinpoint jazz as being one sort of feel, one sort of instrument or one sort of idea. The 12-tone system that we all adhere to in America has just been scratched upon. We’re not even close. The young kids like to call us old school but as far as I’m concerned this is still the new school.