Leo Genovese: Keyboardist for Esperanza Spalding


Editor's note: This is the inaugural feature in a new series called "Talent Scout," where we spotlight up-and-coming players via quick stats and quotes.

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.

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Age: 34.

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 into it.”

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.”