|LMR Definitely, I know what you mean; I hear that jazz spirit in many different types of music. Middle Eastern, flamenco, West African. Its all-encompassing.
DV There really are no boundaries, you know labels, like this is jazz or this is pop, it could be anything, really just anything.
LMR I think the worst thing is labels; I have a lot of trouble putting things into neat little compartments. What would you call your music?
DV Oh, I dont really think about those kinds of things, I dont know if you feel the same way.
LMR Luis is shaking his head, what do you mean by that Luis?
LD Well I dont want to call it jazz or Latin jazz I just want to call it music. It goes beyond that, you know.
DV We try to incorporate a lot of different things.
LD Everybody always talks about jazz as improvisation, Im improvising now while Im talking to you, were all improvising when we speak, does that mean were speaking jazz? Steve Coleman said in an interview, he doesnt like to call what he does jazz, he calls it spontaneous improvisation. Thats really, what it is.
DV There is a group of people, traditionalists or generations that are bringing their own individualism to the music. They have their own individual take on it, their own voice and thats what makes jazz, jazz. Bringing the individuality out, creating your own product.
LMR Speaking of creating your own product, how do you go about writing a song? Is there a certain focus to it, like melody first and then expand on it?
DV I dont really have a method for writing the songs. Sometimes it starts with a melody and you try to develop it. Other times it starts with some great sounding chords. Or you come up with a rhythm and a melody may develop from there. Sometimes its just experimenting, random techniques; Im trying to get better at it.
LMR Practice makes perfect?
DV Yeah for sure.
LMR Does the band contribute to the writing process?
DV Yes they help to bring the idea together, well if its one of my songs, sometimes its Luis song or the drummer brings his and we all have input towards the structure and thats how it happens. The creative process at work.
LMR Getting back to the Montreal Jazz Festival for a moment and winning the Grand Prix de Jazz award, what was the name of the award you won and what else does the award entail?
DV We get a one CD recording deal with Justin Time Records. A $5,000.00 Cash award (chuckles). We get to play the festival again next year as well as the Festi Jazz International de Rimouski. Oh yeah and we opened for Dave Brubeck when we won the award.
LD Bonus, but we never got to see Dave Brubeck, but apparently, he was there, (chuckles all around).
LMR What is the award based on, how do they award this prize and who are the judges?
LD As far as we know, the panel of judges are made up of people in the music industry, record companies, radio stations, the Galaxie Radio Station, the press, the critics and people like that.
DV They are looking for Canadian acts that are doing something new and exciting within the vocabulary of jazz. We are really pleased they chose us; we had no idea that this was even going to happen.
LMR Who are your major influences Davide?
DV My jazz influences, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Andrew Hill, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, and Coleman Hawkins.
LMR And the list goes on.
LD Once you move here (Canada), you get to listen and watch a lot of stuff you never heard before.
DV I dont know if you would agree with me or not, but there are people who are my influences, my heroes as I was growing up that you wouldnt know. If I mentioned their names, you would never have heard of them, because they are only known in Cuba.
LD That happens here to, there are major artists in Chicago who make mention of these great players who have taught them. These people arent known outside of these small musical circles, but they are incredible players. Apparently, there is some elderly sax player in Detroit who plays exactly like Kenny Garrett or Kenny Garrett plays exactly like him. This guy is unknown outside of Detroit.
DV Like for example one of my major influences that comes through in my music is from my father, a singer-songwriter. Both he and my mother taught me a lot about music.
LMR Your father plays the traditional music of Cuba, named Son?
DV No, a different style but coming from that tradition, he plays Mela Trova.
LMR I saw your father play at a club once when he was visiting you here in Toronto. He was great, nice folk style singing and guitar playing, very spirited, joyous and uplifting.
DV Yes, he did a couple of shows while he was here and JazzFm featured his music as well.
LMR You were Jane Bunnetts keyboard player for a long time, a few years anyway.
DV Well Im still her piano player, I hope!
LMR She just did a tour this summer.
DV She did her tour in the States, I have just become a landed immigrant in Canada, so thats a bit of a tricky situation for me. Hopefully soon I can tour the U.S. I have some upcoming shows scheduled with Janes band. Well be playing in B.C. next week and were doing a lot of gigs in Ontario as well.
LMR Is your band part of the Guelph Jazz Festival?
DV No unfortunately, we sent them our stuff, but I guess they thought it was too straight ahead. This is more of an Avant Garde Festival. The folks who run that festival are doing a great job. I believe this is one of the best festivals in Canada. Im going to be there to see Steve Coleman. They have some great acts scheduled. They have in the past brought in some of the greatest acts, William Parker, Jason Moran, Dewey Redman, Steve Lacey, so its the real deal.
LMR Last time I saw you guys play, it was at the Distillery, a late night jam. The great tuba player, Howard Johnson said that Luis sounded like Frank Wright, I said more like Dolphy and he was adamant that it was Frank Wright tonight. Ive been listening to Frank Wright and he is a very avant garde, free style player. Im surprised with Luis on sax that you didnt get to play the Guelph Festival, maybe next year. Whats in the future for the David Virelles Quintet, what are your plans?
DV Right now, the main concern is to do the recording, well take it from there and hopefully more opportunities for tours or gigs will develop from that. You know we want to get the music out there, that is what its all about for us. At least that is my main concern right now.
LMR Have you got anything special planned for the recording, any guest artists or special tunes?
LD Oh yeah, we have some special guests were trying to line up.
DV Nothing is confirmed yet, the musicians we would like to guest are busy with tours and other sessions. When we have confirmation on who is available we will let you know.
LMR Im really looking forward to hearing a finished product, I know it will be great and I wish you guys all the best. Thank you very much for giving me the time to do this interview.
DV No, thank you, that was great.
LD Thanks a lot to you for taking the time.
LMR My pleasure, be well and play on.