Guitarist of the Month: Giuseppe Pucciarelli

Photo by Giuseppe Caggiano

“You know what was intimidating when I first moved to London? That I didn’t really know anyone! And that was kind of exciting at the time too for some reason! But one of the first people I met on my course and went to chill at a pub and explore central London with was Giuseppe. One of the guitarists I looked up to in my course and one who’s able to play the hardest Metallica stuff AND sophisticated jazz. And all guitarists know that this is a cool skill to have! At the end of our 4 years of university, he had gone through a lot of musical projects and had written a rly cool EP! Which (dad, if you’re reading this, then skip to the interview part please) my dad loved so much that I gave it to him and bought him some more CDs for his birthday this month 🙂 Anyway – without further ado – here are some of Giuseppe’s thoughts and tips on jazz and the mindset of doing music.” – Neli

What made you pick jazz music as your field of work?

It was a natural decision. I can’t remember the day where I went: “I’m only playing jazz from now on”. I guess I got interested in the types of harmonies, melodies and rhythms used in that kind of music. Even though, there’s so many different ones! Jazz has a long history!

How would you describe jazz music to an aspiring musician experiencing jazz for the first time?

Freedom is the word that I would choose. Jazz is freedom. Yes, there are rules (on paper) on how to voice a chord, what scale works with what chord etc. But at the end of the day, as an improviser, you get to choose what and how to play the notes. 

What is the most basic jazz guitar skill you would recommend for beginners?

I don’t think there is one. Being able to play ‘jazz guitar’ involves a variety of different skills. If I had to choose one, I would begin with mastering the harmony from the melodic minor (both chords and scales – they are the same thing). Melodic minor is a sound that most people would associate with jazz music. (E.G. Don’t play G13, stick a sharp 11th in there as well! (lol) –  Don’t play Lydian, play Lydian augmented, don’t play G-7, play Gmin maj7 etc etc)

Photo by Ben Pembery

Which are your biggest inspirations?

It wouldn’t be fair if I don’t put Pat Metheny on top of my list. He is the guy who really made me cry a few times. I got in love with jazz because of him. Then I must mention John Scofield, Steve Swallow, Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Lyle Mays, Bill Frisell, Kurt Rosenwinkel. I also studied with John Parricelli, guitarist based in London…There’s so many! They all have different styles, but I love each one of them and many others.

How do you personally set goals for the continuous development of your guitar skills?

This is an hard one. You have to be super analytical. Being aware of the things you cannot do. For example, if you cannot play in 7, then practice in 7. If you can’t play the Eb harmonic major between fret 1 to 4 – then you practice that. It’s important  – if not crucial – to spend time with your instrument. 

How do you approach arranging jazz songs?

It depends on what you arrange for. If you want to re-arrange any songs, the melody must not be touched, otherwise people cannot recognize that songs! What’s left? Harmony and Rhythms. 

Do you think about the theory when writing music?

Nope, never ever. Emotions and feelings are the most important thing. I would play a C major chord for 45 minutes if it means something to me.

How do you go about writing a whole album?

Composing new music is never easy. Because it is easy to write anything, but it’s challenging to write something that makes it important in your life. Composing music is like homework to me. Sometimes, I know I need to dedicate 2 hours of my day just to do that. So I seat down, and I start playing chords or melody… and it starts from there. I never use logic – I write it down on Sibelius (a scorewriter program) and then bring it on the bandstand.

Photo by Ben Pembery

What are your tips on improvising?

It’s not just about playing the right notes with the right chord, it’s about knowing the history of the music as well as the different styles of the music. How you approach ‘Giant Steps’ might be completely different than playing a tune from… the Yellojackets! It’s important to have the vocabulary to improvise on different styles, so you know how to play in different contexts and then make that vocabulary your own.

What is a thing you’d like to experiment with in music?

I just like playing music. I like to play music with different ensembles. Some days, I love to play duo with a double bass, some other days I like playing trio with a drummer or in a quintet with a piano and a horn. It really depends. I don’t really experiment with sounds that much. I like the sound of a clean guitar. That seems to be enough for me, right now.

At the moment, Giuseppe is writing new music and thinking to go back and record a quartet album with the piano. He is also available for teaching lessons – get in touch by contacting him at: info@giuseppepucciarelli.com.

You can check out his three previous records here: 

2017 – Shall We Say It Is Worth [ https://ampl.ink/N9LJR  ]
2019 – Feel Free To Feel Free – [ https://ampl.ink/aKmDP ]
2020 – Tunes We Like [ https://ampl.ink/VDyBe ] 

CDs can be bought from https://giuseppepucciarelli.bandcamp.com/ or by emailing info@giuseppepucciarelli.com

Follow him also on social media:

Website: https://www.giuseppepucciarelli.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pucciarellistraightahead/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PucciarelliMusic/ 

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