Argentine keyboardist and composer Leo Genovese has been
making a masterful musical impact since joining Grammy-winning bassist
and vocalist Esperanza Spalding’s band in 2005. His latest album Seeds
(Montuno/Palmetto) is out now, and we’re happy to catch up with him for
our new feature, “Talent Scout,” in which we profile up-and-coming
musicians you need to know about. Visit him online at facebook.com/leogenovese.
Hometown: Venado Tuerto, Argentina. “That name literally means ‘one-eyed deer’,” says Genovese.
Training: “I took piano lessons when I was younger.
In the beginning it consisted of getting together with a great piano
player from my hometown and having him show me things.” I went to
Berklee College of Music in 2001 and studied with Danilo Perez, Hal
Crook and others.”
Musical Beginnings: “I worked on a farm until I was
15. Then I put a rock band together with guys from my town. I used a
Casio keyboard and we played mostly Argentine rock (including the music
of Luis Alberto Spinetta) and our own originals. After high school I
went to university and took classical piano lessons. I also started
taking jazz harmony. My first taste of jazz was the electric side of
players: Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, Herbie Hancock on Mr. Hands, and George Duke’s A Brazilian Love Affair. I think that side of jazz was easier for me to digest at first.
Influences: “In addition to those mentioned above, I’m influenced by players like Masabumi Kikuchi, Jaki Byard, and James P. Johnson.”
What I’m Listening to Right Now: “I really like what Craig Taborn, Jason Moran, and Fred Hersch are doing lately.”
Big Break: “Joining Esperanza Spalding’s band in
2005. We met when we were both at Berklee and I’ve missed maybe one gig
since joining her band. I’m very committed to it.”
Latest Album: “Seeds featuring, Dan Blake
and George Garzone on saxophones, John Lockwood on Bass, Esperanza
Spalding on bass and vocals, and Bob Gullotti and Francisco Mela drums.
Favorite Gear: “The ideal situation for me is to
play a Farfisa Fast 4 combo organ, a Sequential Circuits Six Track, a
Hammond SK1, a Fender Rhodes, and a Fazioli grand piano. I’m also really
digging the Hammond-Suzuki Melodion 44. It has a great microphone built
What’s Next: “I’m going on tour with my own trio to Argentina with Francisco Mela and Demian Cabaud. I made my first album Haikus II with that trio on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.”
Advice: “Think about the future as much as the
past—not only in terms of music, but in terms of building a community of
individuals. Stay open and listen to as much music as possible from
everywhere. Music is more proof that we’re all connected.”