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Forget the stereotypes!
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Forget the stereotypes!
Real jazz is in Koktebel!
Benito Gonzalez

Benito Gonzalez: when I play, failures just don’t exist

— When did you fall in love with jazz? 

— It happened fairly late. I was 12 or 13 years old when I heard jazz on one of Venezuela's radio stations. It struck me how free that music was. I began searching for recordings of jazz pianists and listened to a great many of them — Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and others. 

Back then, I wished so much I could earn my living as a musician. Jazz helped me to find my voice, to understand what I want to do and how I can express myself.

— What were the brightest moments in your career? 

— Repeated nominations for the Grammy award. Winning the prestigious jazz pianist contest in 2005. Recording my solo album in 2004.

— Can you recall any of your music failures?

— It's hard to say. I don't perceive complicated situations as failures — they are a challenge to me. When I play, failures just don't exist.

— Do you set yourself any goals? What is it that you want to achieve? 

— That, of course, is to bring peace into people's hearts with the help of music. Since I also teach, aside from playing, one of my key goals is to inspire young musicians, to help them find their voice. But as I tour a lot, it's hard to carve out time for classes.

— What can you say about jazz in Venezuela?

— Our musicians have made great progress in the past couple of decades. In Venezuela, we now have the El sistema program that comprises several orchestras. At first, those were only symphony orchestras, but today we have a jazz band too. I went to one of their concerts during their recent tour of the US. The band is made up of young Venezuelan musicians for whom it was their first visit to America. Frankly, they are good fellows, extremely talented.

— What do you know about Russian jazz?

— You have many top-class musicians. I've had the honor of playing and doing recordings with many of them, for instance, Vitaly Ponomaryov and Dmitry Mospan, and Oleg Butman — he is a fantastic drummer. I know Igor Butman, of course. I have many friends in Russia and they are all wonderful musicians.  And I would like to say a few words about your audience — very grateful people with a fine taste in music.