A Self-Portrait of the Young Master
A Moment with Marcelo Zarvos
by Paula Edelstein
Marcelo Zarvos possesses many traits but he is best known for the beautiful music he creates, plays and arranges. The fact that he is young, gifted and smart comes as no surprise to those that have collaborated with Marcelo or to those that have been seated in his audiences. He’s deep. The Brazilian prodigy has played and studied with some of the best musicians and educators in the world and no doubt has begun to realize that the depth of his talent is the one quality in his art that attracts and keeps his audiences returning for more. Marcelo’s seemingly mystical ability to raise a collection of life experiences and transfigure them, give them beauty and set them to music is a wonderful discovery for those that love music. He shares those brilliant talents on MUSIC JOURNAL, his second release for the M-A Recordings label and highly anticipated follow-up to the brilliant LABYRINTHS. As some of the most beautiful music we’ve heard in this decade, JAZZUSA.COM was elated to speak to the young master as he prepared for his Autumn Concert Series throughout the United States:
JazzUSA: Congratulations Marcelo on MUSIC JOURNAL. It is absolutely brilliant! If I were stranded on a desert island and asked to record a project, I must say that I would use some of your concepts…with your permission of course! I understand that you set your mind back to record these musical events. How far back are you taking us with the concept for MUSIC JOURNAL?
MZ: First of all thank you for your continuing support of my music. As far as the events that inspired MUSIC JOURNAL I would say that they go as far as back as my early childhood in Brazil, or further if you want to get spiritual about it.
JazzUSA: While envisioning the music for your journal, what were the decisive factors that influenced your selections, i.e., are you referencing chronological experiences, most creative inspirations, most symbolic experience, etc.?
MZ: The decisive factors were purely intuitive and what defined by how vivid those memories were in my imagination. I strongly believe that for really significant events and/or places in a person’s life, a quick glimpse is enough to remember it forever. It’s a lot like painting from memory, actually.
JazzUSA: Unlike LABYRINTHS, you are playing the accordion on “In A Doorway.” Was there a time when you previously played the accordion or is this a new instrument you’ve learned recently?
MZ: I started playing the accordion about three or four years ago. It’s interesting, though, that some of my earliest memories of any musical instrument are from the accordion music from the Forró groups I heard as a child in Brazil. The way I used it in MUSIC JOURNAL is very different however, and it tends to act as one more melodic voice to complement the sax and cello rather than as a rhythmical or harmonic source.
JazzUSA: “Gallop” is a brilliant rendition of the Brazilian galope rhythm and for me suggests a majestic romp mounted on a beautiful stallion along a beautiful coastline. What was your vision and imagery for this beautiful piece?
MZ: You got that right! You know, I try to be careful not to impose my vision on the listener, but have to admit that this particular piece was really all about the image of galloping horses: first at distance where they almost seem to be moving in slow motion and gradually closer as we move towards the end of the piece with the music getting faster and louder.
JazzUSA: Marcelo, you continue to impress your audiences with your compositional integrity for chamber music or a mixed ensemble of classical and non-classical musicians. I’ve noticed that MUSIC JOURNAL includes the brilliant artistry of Chris Dahlgren on double bass. Please discuss the inclusion of sections for double bass on the very beautiful and spiritual “While She Sleeps.”
MZ: The melody in “While She Sleeps” is another type of chorale-like writing that I started exploring in my previous album LABYRINTHS particularly in “Lu’s Rag.” Due to the simplicity of the line and its very diatonic character, it can work both as a high melodic line or lower, in the bass register. In addition, Chris Dahlgren’s beautiful and rich tone in this instrument was too much to resist and it remains one of my favorite pieces in the album.
JazzUSA: “Avenida Paulista” suggests a rousing remembrance of Brazilian folklore with both samba and bebop stylings. What is the special symbolism that inspired the “Avenida Paulista” piece?
MZ: I always joke that “Avenida Paulista” is a cross of Fifth Avenue and Wall Street, in the heart of my native city of São Paulo, Brazil. It is also a kind of symbol of the fast and frenetic pace that big cities such as São Paulo and New York can have. Towards the middle of the piece, there is a slower and somewhat darker section that is meant to portray Avenida Paulista at night, when the streets are empty and quiet.
JazzUSA: “One More Year” is one of the most beautiful works I’ve heard in some time. It is so full of the imagery from the different places and events you’ve experienced and is the perfect culmination for MUSIC JOURNAL. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to your stellar sextet and Ms. Lawson for her brilliant work on violoncello. Absolutely stunning!
MZ: Thank you! Actually “One More Year” is dedicated to Dorothy Lawson. I wrote it on the occasion of her fortieth birthday as a gift and token of my admiration for her artistry.
JazzUSA: Will you be appearing in Summer and Fall Concert Series in 2000?
MZ: We will be performing in the Caviarteria in New York City on October 15th at 8 PM. For updates on live performances by Zarvos & Group I suggest that listeners check out my website at http://www.zarvos.com.
JazzUSA: Thank you so much for this interview and again, our heartiest congratulations to you with respect to MUSIC JOURNAL. It’s so beautiful. Keep in touch with the brilliant pianist Marcelo Zarvos and you’ll discover music you haven’t heard anywhere before!