ROB PAPAROZZI
Etruscan Soul
(Honeydrippers Records)

 

No less a musical icon then guitarist Steve Cropper is quoted as saying, ‘Please take the time to listen to Rob’s new album. I’m positive you will be amazed if you have not heard him before.’ The Rob that Steve is talking about is singer-harmonica maestro Rob Paparozzi, who released his new album Etruscan Soul in 2009. In addition to his growing solo career, Paparozzi is also currently a member of the classic late '60s jazz-rock legends Blood, Sweat & Tears. And as if you didn't need more proof, Rob is also a native New Yawka and you can really feel that soulful, uptown Hudson River Drive, shootin’ down Broadway kind of vibe throughout the Etruscan Soul album. Kicking off with a harmonica drenched, bluesy instro cover of “Ticket To Ride,” Paparozzi knocks ‘em down and sets ‘em up again on an album that merges funky, rocking instrumentals with vocal numbers. Clearly a musician and a music lover at heart, Paparozzi isn’t afraid to mix covers of Cream and The Beatles with more covers of Allen Toussaint, Keb’ Mo, Ray Charles and Steely Dan. Joining Paparozzi in the studio are notable players and vocalists like Phoebe Snow, guitarists Leo Nocentelli, George Naha, Chuck Rainey, Hugh McCracken, a rhythm section of Will Lee and Bernard Purdie and other notable players. Much more than just the rock version of Toots Thielemanns, Rob Paparozzi rocks the blues in a jazzy way. www.RobPaparozzi.com

MWE3.com presents an interview with
ROB PAPAROZZI



MWE3: Could you give a little history about the how Etruscan Soul CD and what inspired the title of the CD?

RP: I've recorded a few CD's with my band "The Hudson River Rats" over the years as well as played harmonica on many other CD's and recordings. I felt is was time to do a solo debut CD. The concept for the title came from the region my Dad grew up in in Italy where the Etruscan civilization (rich in art & music) preceded the Roman Empire. When I visited my relatives there I felt the connection.

MWE3: How long have you been playing harmonica and can you give a little background in your musical training and when you started studying music?

RP: I have been playing harmonica since I was 15 and I'm 57 years old, I taught myself and then in the ‘70s found a teacher to help me read music on the instrument. I'm basically self taught and have spent years studying music theory and singing as well.

MWE3: Your new CD has an interesting concept with your harmonica as the main instrument taking the melody. I guess Toots Thielemans must have been a influence. Do you have any other favorite harmonica players and why?

RP: Well Toots is sure at the top for my favorite chromatic harmonica players. I also was heavily influenced on diatonic harmonica by Paul Butterfield, Charlie McCoy and Norton Buffalo.

MWE3: It seems a lot of great singers are also harmonica players like Beatle John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Keith Relf even Roger Daltrey. I know John would dig your "Ticket To Ride" - is that not the coolest song title ever?

RP: Yes, a VERY cool title and I sure like to think John Lennon would like my version as he a very large interest in adding harmonica to Beatles songs. Like the chord and bass harmonica on Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mystery Tour.

MWE3: What are the different harmonica makers you use and play and how many different harmonicas do you own? I was also wondering if you have any harmonica endorsements and what keys do you favor in harmonica or is the beauty of using a harmonica is that its so easy to shift keys using different key harmonicas?

RP: I have over a thousand harmonicas in my collection. I was with Hohner about 25 years as an endorsee and this past year was VERY impressed with Suzuki harmonicas from Japan and have signed on to endorse them. I use The Chromatic Fab-48’s and The Manji Blues Harps in all 12 Keys. On chromatic, because of the button you have all 12 keys available without having to bend. When I play blues or country, I want MORE bends and that is when I switch to diatonic, aka Blues Harp.

MWE3: There's some great cover songs on the new Etruscan Soul CD. How and why did you choose some of these tracks for instrumentals and vocals and could you say something about your song writing influences? What songs would you consider covering in the future as both instrumentals and vocals?

RP: Well on this CD I decided to do all covers, I picked 15 of my favorite songs since I was a teen up to present. Then I thought certain ones would sound best with a harmonica lead ie: “Ticket to Ride,” “Peg,” “Strange Brew” and “Body & Soul.” In the future I'd love to do more jazz and maybe even more Beatles as covers but I would like to get back to writing more original material as well. My favorite song writers are Rogers & Hart, Paul Simon & Randy Newman.

MWE3: Could you say something about how you came to join Blood, Sweat & Tears and are there any plans to do any recording with BS&T? I was wondering if there are any members left from the original BS&T lineup such as Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby, who were key members of that band too. Does Bobby still own the name and how about Al Kooper? They were so incredibly popular back when I was in junior high school in January 1969!

RP: BS&T was always a New York band so over the years I've come to know the great players and there are over 200 that have gone through the band since 1969. It's sort of been a finishing school for jazz/rock musicians. The alumni is diverse as Joe Henderson, Jaco, Mike Stern and Jerry LaCroix and Luther Kent. I played harmonica on David Clayton Thomas' last few solo records so the band knew of me. Yes, Colomby owns the band but more or less oversees the management and doesn't tour. Original member Steve Katz has rejoined after many years off. I was asked to sing and front the band in 2005 when David Clayton Thomas went back to Toronto to work under his own name. I've met and played with Al Kooper on other projects but he no longer works with the band. It's an honor to be part of such a legendary band with so many hits and the music and charts are just so fresh 40+ years later. I'm having a ball.

MWE3: Can you say something about your future touring and also any recording plans?

RP: Prior to BS&T, I spent seven years on the road with Steve Cropper and The Original Blues Brothers Band so I'm used to touring. It looks like a world tour is in the works for 2009 with BS&T. So hopefully when I'm off the road I can work on my next CD which will be one of three I have in the queue! I will keep you posted and thanks for your write up on my Etruscan Soul CD on Music World Express 3000. It is amazingly eclectic and invaluable for music lovers around the globe, keep up the good work.

MWE3: Thanks Rob!

www.RobPaparozzi.com

 

 
   
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