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AMERICAN JAZZ MUSICIAN SAYS FATE BROUGHT HIM TO LIVE AND WORK IN SLOVAKIA

Cardarelli takes another turn

HE IS American, he grew up in Boston playing in jazz bands, but as a child Peter Cardarelli dreamt of playing jazz in Europe. As fate would have it, he met and married Katarína, from Banská Bystrica, and in 1992 he came to Slovakia for the first time. He then returned a few times to tour with Slovak jazz musicians, and seven years later he moved here and stayed.
"When I went back to teach for one year at a university in Boston, I felt like a fish out of water there. I felt my fate was to be here," says the 52-year-old tenor saxophonist.
When she brought her husband to Slovakia, Katarína also brought jazz traditions from the country where the genre originated. Cardarelli's ability to speak the language of jazz and mix it with other musical styles has helped him and his band maintain a strong presence in the vanishing Slovak jazz scene.


TENOR saxophonist Peter Cardarelli, always living "for the moment."
photo: Ján Lörincz

HE IS American, he grew up in Boston playing in jazz bands, but as a child Peter Cardarelli dreamt of playing jazz in Europe. As fate would have it, he met and married Katarína, from Banská Bystrica, and in 1992 he came to Slovakia for the first time. He then returned a few times to tour with Slovak jazz musicians, and seven years later he moved here and stayed.

"When I went back to teach for one year at a university in Boston, I felt like a fish out of water there. I felt my fate was to be here," says the 52-year-old tenor saxophonist.

When she brought her husband to Slovakia, Katarína also brought jazz traditions from the country where the genre originated. Cardarelli's ability to speak the language of jazz and mix it with other musical styles has helped him and his band maintain a strong presence in the vanishing Slovak jazz scene.

"He brought the original jazz tradition from America and is helping us understand it," says Peter Preložník, the pianist in Cardarelli's band Comfort Zone, which was formed in 2001. "And his musical style is exactly what I want to play."

Cardarelli, an improvisational saxophonist, composer, teacher, and bandleader, can usually be seen playing in Bratislava music clubs three or four times a week. However, these days he has been working a lot in Preložník's studio in Pezinok, finishing up his ninth CD. Entitled The Night of the Living Groove, the nine-composition CD is due to be released in mid-February.

"It's going to surprise a lot of people who know my music. It's a completely different style," Cardarelli says, as he sips his favourite fruit tea in a Bratislava restaurant.

As he further explains, the pieces he wrote for the new album combine the style of the jazz crusaders with a groove bass, a little bit of free jazz and some rap - all within the language of jazz.

"So, what I am trying to do [on this CD] is put things together that are not supposed to be together. And it works," he says, adding that it is definitely dance music. "You move your head and your body to every piece."

Apart from Cardarelli's groove-jazz quintet Comfort Zone, other performers on the CD include pianist Gabriel Jonáš, guitarists Andrej Šeban and Matúš Jakabčic, drummer Oldo Petráš, and three female singers - Silvia Josifoská, Lucia Šípošová, and Zuzana Kvassayová.

The first CD that Cardarelli recorded in Slovakia, in 1997, was called Mr Knight and consisted of jazz standards. Bratislava Blue followed a year later, featuring different kinds of blues songs, which Cardarelli composed or arranged for Slovak musicians. With this, his third CD recorded in a Slovak studio, Cardarelli again takes a different turn - live groove jazz.

Even though Cardarelli does the rapping on the new CD, he says his saxophone will always be his preferred tool of expression.

"My tenor saxophone is my voice," he says.

However, it was not this instrument that Cardarelli learned to play first. As a kid, he could not decide which instrument he liked more, the clarinet or the saxophone. His mother wrote the word clarinet on one piece of paper and saxophone on the other and put them in a hat. He picked the piece with clarinet written on it. But when he later tried playing the tenor saxophone, he instantly knew that that was the instrument for him.

Cardarelli's bands have opened for musicians like B.B. King, Charlie Daniels, Maynard Ferguson, and Kool And The Gang, and the comedian Jay Leno. Before moving to Europe, Cardarelli, a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, taught the history of jazz, saxophone, jazz improvisation, and big band for almost 10 years at his alma mater.

"The main problem here is to find a very good jazz drummer," says Cardarelli, who has played with more than 50 Slovak musicians. He also notes that the Slovak jazz scene is on the downturn, as there are ever fewer clubs to play in. He plans to go to the US in the near future, to "check out the offers and make some money", but he says he will return to Slovakia.

"It's sometimes difficult being here, but I don't regret it. I feel very lucky to have such good friends that are such great musicians."

Peter Cardarelli regularly performs at Budha Bar, Galéria Cafe, Catch XXII, and Studio Club in Bratislava.
For more information about Peter Cardarelli's music and concert schedule check www.petercardarelli.com.

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