An accordion, a violin and a world of possibilities
A. I’m better known as an Italian jazzman or musician, but I play music everywhere. I like to play anything from tango to funk to classical to Bulgarian. There’s nothing I won’t do as long as there are notes in it. The main stage of Mari is Celtic music, but she has the ability to do almost everything as well. This is how we got together and created this concert.
Q. The title also suggests that you will be doing a lot of improvisation.
A. It’s definitely a ton of improvisation. I mean, these are all tunes, so there’s a structure, you’ve got the melody and chord changes, but it’s mostly improvisation because we’ve both done a lot of that, and that’s sort of the foundation for everything I do.
Q. We are finally witnessing the re-emergence of the performing arts. It must be something that you have sorely missed.
A. Definitely, because my whole career is gaming. The worst part is that I’m all about the connections. When you lose a year and a half, you don’t know what connections you would have made in various events that spilled over into all kinds of other connections.
Q. Obviously, there was a substantial financial impact for many musicians as well, and that indicates that you and Mari made this show for a good cause. You ask participants to make a donation that will go to the New England Musicians Relief Fund.
A. When we had this gig, I thought, we’re so happy to be playing live again; since Mari and I have received grants from the fund and have always been very good friends with [board member] Dennis Alves and the people over there, why not do this for them and give back what they gave us?
Q. Live music is slowly returning, but it will be some time before we get back to something close to normal, which means the fund will continue to meet pandemic needs.
A. Musicians will be the last to return to normal for a number of reasons. This is the middle category of good professional musicians who are in the worst place, waiting for concerts, private events, corporate events to book. I don’t expect to get back to normal until next January.
Q. You’ve racked up a lot of accolades as an accordionist, but the one I’m interested in is the Guinness World Record for Marathon Accordion Game you set with a shift of 32 consecutive hours. How did you achieve this feat?
A. It was really a state of mind, more than anything. I was planning on doing maybe a 16 hour workout to see how I got it done. But then I thought, what if I do this and it burns me out or hurts something? So I didn’t train for it, I just went and did it. I could have played music easier, but I actually played mentally difficult music to keep me alert. The logistics before and after were honestly more difficult than the record itself.
UNSCRIPTED: IMPROVISED MUSIC FROM THE WORLD
June 3, 7 p.m. Starlight Square, 84 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge. Free, but reservations are required at www.NEMRF / starlight
The interview has been edited and condensed. Stuart Munro can be reached at [email protected].