Everyone has a list of their favorite musicians. Much of that list probably has to do with which musicians and bands you’ve been able to see live.
There’s something special about live music that allows the audience and performers to truly connect.
Jazz guitarist Renan Guzzo has spent his musical career chasing that connection. With multiple genres under his belt in addition to his jazz skills, he loves exploring new sounds and musical ideas.
We hope you’ll enjoy our interview with Guzzo, where he details what he loves about the music scene today and recommendations for finding great new music yourself.
What’s some of the new music you’ve recently found and gotten excited about?
Guzzo: I have listened to the latest album released by Ben Wendel entitled “The Seasons”. I’ve always loved his playing but I’m really amazed by his writing, which has inspired me to focus on composing more music of my own. Vulfpeck’s “Hill Climber” is another recent find that has really influenced me and made me pick up my Strat more to improve my rhythm guitar skills. I’ve also been really into Cory Wong’s funk guitar playing lately.
Are there specific American cities where you really enjoy seeing live music?
Guzzo: New York City is definitely my #1 place for seeing live music, and to me it’s no exaggeration to call it the jazz Mecca. There’s so much music and art in general happening and it is just so incredible how much talent is crammed there. Many of my main musical references are active players in the NYC scene and I believe there’s no other place like that in the world, especially for jazz, given that most of its history has taken place in those clubs and streets.
Which of your projects are you proudest of so far?
Guzzo: I have been really excited to play with my trio and plan on recording an EP early in 2019. This has always been a dream for me and is a project in which I have total freedom to express all my ideas and deeply develop my writing skills. All my Brazilian, jazz, and pop influences can be heard, and I believe that it’s where my musical personality is more evident. It’s what’s given me some of the biggest challenges so far. It is where I am more self-critical and that can lead to some hard times. On the other hand, it’s also proven to be a process of self-awareness and has produced some of the best results in my opinion.
Do you play different guitars based on the style of music you’re playing?
Guzzo: It totally depends on what sound fits better in the mix and what the music calls for in terms of tone. For instance, I mostly play my semi-hollow bodied guitar since it gives me some fuller, jazzy sounds, yet allows me to play around and experiment with some modern effects like overdriven tones, etc. That’s my go-to guitar for my own projects most of the time. However, some gigs call for the high-end bite of a solid body instrument. That’s usually the case when I am playing a pop gig that requires a wide variety of sounds and tones, and not rare high gain distorted sounds. For those gigs I’d use my Suhr Strat.
Do you think that guitar can fit well into a classical setting such as a symphony orchestra?
Guzzo: It sure does. It is all about the musical concept and how the composer works out the elements of the instruments on a piece of music. In fact, any instrument can fit well into that kind of setting and all sorts of instrumentation have been used in concert music.
In your opinion, will guitar always have a place in popular music?
Guzzo: The birth of electric guitar was due to a need for guitar soloists in big bands, and the whole history of the instrument has shaped the sound of popular music to this day. I am sure there is still an endless territory to be explored in terms of music creation, and guitar will definitely play a major role in that process as one of the most eclectic instruments.
Do you enjoy touring and the live music experience?
Guzzo: To me, the organic aspects of live music, the interaction on stage, and the energy exchanged with the audience is what makes art such a special form of expression. This is probably the ultimate musical experience, in my opinion. Touring and playing live are also when growth happens, as well as networking. Friends are made and so much personal and professional experience is gained.
Do you have any advice for musicians trying to make name for themselves?
Guzzo: I think that getting yourself out and playing with people pretty much sums it up. Building up a network and being open to different kinds of music is another important point. Working hard on your instrument and music is just the primary work to be done and will not suffice at the end for whoever wants to pursue a career in music. It’s definitely crucial for a musician to see themselves as an artist and work on every aspect of the professional life, whether it be artistic or the business side of things.
by Giorgio Chang
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