Enzo Avitabile: Lifelong Music Passion


Italian saxophonist, composer and singer-songwriter, Enzo Avitabile has been pursuing his musical quest for an original personal style, all his life. With his sound combining both World music and Jazz fusion and rooted in Neapolitan traditions, he goes beyond the rules of show business. In an exclusive interview with Azeri Observer he speaks about his collaboration with Tina Turner and James Brown, the formula for success, his attitude to the contemporary music industry, and explains the process of a song birth.



Question: What drew you to the music industry?

Answer: Music has always been my passion. I could say I ended up working in the music industry by choice, by transforming my passion into a job. However, despite the hard work required, it was just by chance and a bit of luck, that in the end I had the gift to never separate my working life from music. I am grateful now, to fully enjoy music all throughout my life.

Q.: What is your favorite thing about your work? What is your least favorite? Why?

A.: What I most love in my job is the freedom and creativity it encompasses. Moreover, meeting people and travelling worldwide is a fundamental component that I much cherish in my profession. Of course, there’s always a downside: waiting for inspiration may prove frustrating, constantly exercising requires discipline and dedication, and travelling is tiring. Every rose has its thorn, but it is fully worth the sting.

Q: You collaborated with such legendary singers of the 20th century as Tina Turner and James Brown. How did they contribute to your professional development?

A: To work with such great artists first and foremost creates a great joy. The happiness of the collaboration resides in that each personality and each style remains the same – in the full respect of its specificities, but at the same time is enriched by the exposure to others. Those incredible musicians taught me a lot while playing together, and I hope I left them something from my side.

Q: Which musician or singer would you like to collaborate with now?

A: Well, that is a difficult question, for there are several great musicians I would love to work with. But if I should choose one among all, I would say Stevie Wonder. In this moment of my career, that would represent the biggest achievement of my profession. 

Q: Do you have a favorite country or concert venue to perform in?

A: There is not a specific country or venue in which I prefer to perform. What is central, is the creation of a good vibe, and the vibe is given by the special enjoyment and exchange that occurs between who plays, and its audience. It’s not the country or the people that create feeling, but the music.

Q: What is your most memorable concert experience?

A: I’ve had many… maybe all of them!

Q: Do you listen to music in your free time? What kind of music? Do you like to listen to your own music?

A: I listen to all kinds of music. I do not think music should be approached in a sectorial fashion. Every genre has its masters, and from every kind of music there’s a different feeling, a different atmosphere to enjoy. I listen to different kinds of music in different moments of the day, and in different state of minds.

Q: How does the birth of a song originate? In agony or with ease?

A: Mixed, indefinable, can’t be labelled. Today, tomorrow… who knows? It can be defined an agony… until you reach the right inspiration. It can be frustrating and requires permanent dedication. But once the feeling has come, the focus is steady, and the magic comes. That’s the most beautiful and fulfilling moment, I cannot describe it.

Q: What is your definition of success?

A: There are three different aspects of what success means for me. The first is the self-development – that is the permanent inner growth you experience as a person, when you develop in your profession. Its necessary companion is the artistic growth, since my profession is music; growing as an artist is that everyday goal that I need to achieve. Third, I would be phony not to include popularity. Popularity is the proof that the public appreciates your inner achievements. Without that, every gain would remain self-centered, and a solitary experience. Instead, for an artist, the love and appreciation by the audience is the fuel that keeps you alive and happy.

Q: What would you like to change in the contemporary music industry?

A: The tyranny of numbers; more artistic choices than commercial ones. Too often the music market tries to model the production by anticipating what is perceived as the upcoming trend. But in so doing, the freedom of choice in art is clipped. Instead, I think the audience would most happily receive a sincere and free creation, rather than a “product” designed to be sold as a commodity. The art is the most important thing.

Q: What is the weirdest and the funniest question you have ever been asked in an interview? What did you answer?

A: This is the weirdest and funniest question I’ve ever been asked and this is my answer: do you have an alternative question? Thank you!! 🙂