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Italian-Portuguese Pianist Dan Costa Kicks Off India Tour This Week

The musician will perform six shows across three cities

David Britto Sep 03, 2019

Italian-Portuguese pianist Dan Costa. Photo: Alon Levin

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Although Dan Costa was born in London, his family’s Italian and Portuguese background played an important part while he was growing up. “We listened to several artists, especially Brazilian and Italian,” the pianist says. Upon moving to the south of France at the age of 10, he was given the opportunity to study classical music and jazz which laid the foundation for the musician that he is today.

Costa – who played in New Delhi in 2017 – is now scheduled to perform six shows in India between September 5th and 14th across Chandigarh, Kolkata and New Delhi. In this interview with Rolling Stone India, he talks about being mentored by Chick Corea, his two albums, working with other musicians and more.

How was your experience while at Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts around 2010?

Studying at LIPA allowed me to meet several other artists from different countries. I took part in an exchange project that took us to Germany, France and Finland and another one to Philadelphia, U.S. The school is quite diverse, as there were also actors and dancers, but after taking my diploma there I wished to focus on my passion for jazz.

What was it like learning from Chick Corea?

It’s always inspiring to learn from great artists that have stood the test of time. One thing that struck me about Chick is the easiness with which he approaches playing, and this comes across in his workshops as well. I believe this relaxed yet committed approach is important in a style like jazz, and more so in his style, where rhythm plays a key role, not to mention the melodic and harmonic complexity it also comprises. Some of his tunes like “Windows” are among my favorite jazz standards.

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You’ve been able to work with some talented musicians from across the world, which are some of the names that stand out?

I’ve recently performed at the Blue Note in both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, in Brazil. It has been a pleasure to perform with several admirable Brazilian musicians such as percussionist Marcos Suzano, cellist Jaques Morelenbaum (who has worked with artists like Sting and Jobim), flutist Teco Cardoso, drummers Marcio Bahia, Rafael Barata and Edu Ribeiro and guitarists Roberto Menescal, one of the founders of Bossa Nova, Nelson Faria and Romero Lubambo (who has worked with artists like Diane Reeves and Stevie Wonder). Music has recently taken me to several countries and to work with countless other talented musicians in countries like Italy, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Portugal and of course, India.

Tell me about the inspirations behind your albums Suite Três Rios and Skyness.

Suite Três Rios [was recorded] in Brazil and Skyness in Italy, mixed by ECM legends Jan Erik Kongshaug and Stefano Amerio respectively. The first was primarily Brazilian in all senses, inspired by the Amazon Rainforest and encompassing different rhythms from across Brazil. The second one, however, also reflected other influences, both musical and cultural, such as my Portuguese roots in the piece “Lisbon Skyline,” flamenco in “Sete Enredos” and Ancient Greek philosophy in “Intracycle” and “Iremia.” In fact, the album itself was inspired by the energy of the Greek Cycladic islands, an invitation to outer harmony and inner peace. Skyness also reflects a claim for international unity, as we are united by the same sky, not to be forgotten. The cyclical nature of existence is compelling.

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What can people attending your shows here in India expect from them?

I see music like painting and color was one of the things that initially brought me to jazz, especially Brazilian jazz. People who have listened to my music have pinpointed the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic colors it encompasses, as well as spirituality and strong bond with nature. Above all, I believe music is about communicating our innermost experiences and I find it rewarding when listeners find the connection.

What’s next after you wrap up this tour?

A tour in the Mediterranean will take me to countries such as Malta, Turkey and Greece.

See Dan Costa’s India Tour dates below:

September 5th – Upstairs Club, Chandigarh

September 6th – The Brass Room, Kolkata

September 7th- The Brass Room, Kolkata 

 September 12th- GMI Workshop

September 12th- The Piano Man Jazz Club, Safdarjung 

 September 13th – Piano Man, Gurgaon

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