Next week jazz buffs in Taipei have a rare chance to catch Pietro Valente, a talented young drummer who recently finished his first album, Tales From the Far East. He will perform a set of original compositions at Sappho de Base on Tuesday before returning to his home country of Italy the following week.
Valente is not a jazz drummer who sits back quietly, taps on a ride cymbal and occasionally slaps the snare. Behind the kit, his entire body is always moving. It looks as if he’s trying to hit every part of every drum and cymbal from as many different angles as he can.
“My movement is according to the emotion I’m trying to express,” said the soft-spoken 27-year-old in an interview earlier this week. “I try to dig out new sounds or some particular sounds.”
His presence is strong in an ensemble setting and his playing often has a driving, funky feel, even on some of his slower numbers.
For some, he might sound too busy, or come across as another loud, overzealous drummer. For others, his hunger for color and tone is an asset.
“He’s a drummer that thinks more in terms of melody,” said pianist Andrew Page, who is the music director of the American Club in Taipei and has collaborated with Valente during his recent stay in Taiwan. “He plays the drums as if he’s playing the horn.”
Valente, who is married to a Taiwanese national, lived in Taichung in 2007 and 2008 and was active in the jazz scene in Taiwan and China. He has been in Taiwan on a family visit for the past several months and currently lives with his wife in his hometown of Padua in northern Italy.
He studied jazz percussion at the Universita della Musica in Rome and says he was attracted to jazz more for the visceral aspects of improvisation than the genre itself.
“It’s important [for me] to create music together with other people, to look for something unique for that moment, for that atmosphere,” he said.
Taipei-based bassist Martijn Vanbuel is also appreciative of Valente’s skills, describing him as “very playful” but “a good listener.” The two have been performing together live on their respective solo projects, and both served as backing musicians on a Golden Melody Award-winning album by pianist Wu Su-chi (吳書齊), who died in 2008.
As the title suggests, Tales From the Far East was inspired by Valente’s travels over the past several years to India, Thailand, China and Taiwan. The album includes an interpretation of the Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower (茉莉花), which is titled Wide Breath in Beijing and a funky tribute to Indian architecture, Muswing. Though the CD’s Asian exotica theme might seem a bit cliche, the music is worth a listen for Valente’s earnest approach to composition.
“I want to try to be like a photographer of the places I visit, and at the same time the photographer of my emotions,” he said.
WHAT: Pietro Valente
WHEN: Tuesday at 9:30pm
WHERE: Sappho de Base, B1, 1, Ln 102, Anhe Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市安和路一段102巷1號B1)
ON THE NET:www.pietrovalente.com
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