Allen Smith’s Questions and Answers with Leopoldo Osio.

Leopoldo Osio at the keyboard

I asked Leopoldo Osio a few questions in an e-mail dialogue a few days ago. Here is how it went.

Allen:  What made you interested in playing jazz on the piano?

Leopoldo: When I was 14 years old, accidentally I came across a George Shearing concert on TV. At the time I was also starting to dig into Latin Music (where piano solos are also common), so after very short research, I learned that jazz was merely an improvised form of music, and that got me hooked straight away. From there, my interest grew and I started listening to Jazz more and more.

Allen: In which famous jazz pianist were you first interested?

Leopoldo: As my mentor Julio Mendoza is a trumpet player coming from the Bebop tradition, I spent my first 2 or 3 years listening mostly to horn players without paying attention to any jazz pianist in particular. So once I was familiar enough with the Bebop vocabulary, I started to focus more in modern pianists, as a way of transcending the logic of the concepts I was learning at the time.

Herbie Hancock became my first model as a jazz pianist. I always found it fascinating to hear how modern and creative Hancock could sound while still keeping Bebop and Blues elements in his playing. His rhythmic sense and articulation has also been a constant reference for me.

Allen: Which jazz piano trio do you like the most?

Leopoldo: I am not attached to any trio in particular. I am always oscillating between the Keith Jarrett Trio and Brad Melhdau among the famous Jazz Trios.

Allen: What do you like about the rhythm section of the piano trio you have chosen in question 3 above?

Leopoldo: From Brad Mehldau’s rhythm section I like the way they interact with the piano solos. They are communicating all the time at a very deep level. Each player is developing an independent way of comping, that sometimes is related to what the soloist is doing (and sometimes it isn’t) and at the same it doesn’t interfere with the soloist. I like to think of this as a compositional way of comping.

In the other, if any of them throw an interesting idea at the right moment (that is different to the one that the soloist is developing), it can be easily picked up and developed further by another member of the group, sometimes leading to dynamic development or the creation of a new atmosphere that can last for the rest of the solo.

Allen: From where will you and your trio draw your repertoire for its set at “Trio Trio Piano”?

At the moment we are working on original compositions (most of them by me). They reflect the background of the players in the band as well as my own. Postbop material, grooves with some Funk and Latin inflections, dynamics and expressive ballads are part of our set for “Trio Trio Piano”.

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