Renowned Argentine musician Ramiro Nasello is a master trumpeter who infuses his music with a rare level of energy and skill that leaves an indelible mark within the minds of listeners.
Nasello has been handpicked by an impressive collection of international musicians as both a solo and lead ensemble trumpeter on albums including Alejandro Herrera’s “Minority Report,” the Latin jazz band Latinaje’s self-titled debut, Roberto Fats Fernandez’s “Tangos & Standards,” “Fats Live Birthday” and “Montecarlo Jazz Ensemble,” Quique Ferrari’s “Grave” and “Imperfecto,” as well as many more.
His ability to express emotion through the sounds of his trumpet and naturally capture the essence of any song he contributes to has been a major factor in his success.
Regardless of whether he’s playing big band, Latin jazz, popular music or a blend of all three, the vibrant passion that he emits every time he picks up his instrument has continued to impress fans and fellow musicians for more than 25 years.
On its own, his music tends to elicit strong visual qualities, but he is also able to translate prearranged visuals, like those in a film, into his playing. Nasello was chosen to play the song ‘Torna a Surriento’ for the multi-award winning film Toca Para Mi (Play for Me), which sets the tone of grief and sadness during the pivotal scene where the characters in the film mourn one of their dearly departed comrades.
At the start of his career back in the early 90s when he was still a teenager, Nasello held the Principal 1st trumpet chair for seven consecutive years with the Olavarria Symphony Orchestra in Argentina, one of the nation’s most prestigious orchestras; and he went on to record the Olivarria Symphony Orchestra album in 1998. At around the same time Nasello was also playing with the Olavarria Orquesta Tipica (Olavarria Tango Orchestra) performing in popular shows including “Musica De Las Americas” and “Una Noche En La Zarzuela.”
One of the things that inspires Nasello most is sharing his knowledge and skill with those who aspire to learn and perfect their musical talent. Not only has he been leading trumpet clinics for musicians across Argentina for the last few years, he also recently finished a clinic book that will be released in 2016.
Nasello is currently working on a collaboration called the D’Angelo-Nasello International Jazz Collective Project with Italian drummer Andrea D’Angelo, and they plan to begin recording their first album at the beginning of 2016.
To find out more about this incredibly talented musician make sure to read our interview below!
Where are your from?
RN: I was born in Olavarria City, right at the center of the Buenos Aires Province in Argentina.
How and when did you first start playing music?
RN: One day when I was 10 years old, for no particular reason I told my mother that I wanted to play the piano. I don’t really remember why I did it other than my tween brother and I started basketball and some other sports like tennis; and, while he loved it and was very good at them, I never enjoyed it much, perhaps because I sucked at sports! hahaha I never was a sports kind of guy. I do enjoy watching them though. But then I started piano at the conservatory of music and felt comfortable around music and musicians right away.
What was your first instrument?
RN: Even though I started with piano, two years later, my best friend Pablo was playing trumpet at the Youth Brass Band of Olavarria. He used to play some when we were hanging out and I got interested right away, and he said to me “why don’t you join us? We’d be fun.” So I did.
I met Maestro Luis Tripichio, he was the conductor of the Brass Band. He was my first teacher, I remember he gave me a silver plated flugelhorn and let me take it with me. I remember the first time I was trying the first sounds on that instrument in a little room at the back of our house, it didn’t sound very good, but I still remember the excitement, and right then and there I fell in love with the sound, and have never stopped since. Three or four months later I was playing songs with the Brass Band. It was fun indeed, because we got in contact with the music, playing popular songs right away, while at the same time learning to play the instrument.
What time of music do you play? Why did you choose this specific genre of music?
RN: For a long time I navigated between the waters of playing classical and popular music. Nowadays though, I stick to a combination of jazz, Latin jazz, popular music in general. At the Olavarria Conservatory of Music I started with classical piano, and then moved on to popular music, songs, and marches on the trumpet with the Brass Band. Then my dad showed me a couple of big band albums, he is a huge music lover, and I then bought a cassette of Louis Armstrong’s “Hot Five and Seven” and that got me excited. Around the same time I also bought a Maurice Andre album called “Trumpetissimo,” one of the greatest classical trumpeters ever, and I loved his sound. That kind of put me into the two directions of playing popular and classical music, and my style was further defined after I met my second trumpet teacher and mentor Roberto Fats Fernandez.
What has been the best moment of your career so far?
RN: It is hard to tell, because for me the best moment is when I feel the music flows, that something divine is going trough you, it’s a magical moment that happens when interacting with other musicians. Those moments when you feel complete and connected and when it happens it is the greatest moment so far, I guess that is why most of us still play and dedicate our lives to music, and something tells you the best is yet to come.
I can say that when I met Wynton Marsalis when he came to Argentina in 1993 when I was 17 years old was a pretty life changing moment. He is a great friend of Mr. Fernandez and he invited Wynton to be his guest artist on the album “La Musica Y la Vida” (The Music And The Life). Wynton came to the studio and started playing “Luces De Mi Cuidad” (Lights Of My City) a beautiful song my teacher wrote to be performed by Marsalis. He did one take, and he was playing so beautifully that I started crying like a kid. I also played for him. He was very nice to me and very encouraging.
Who were some of your mentors, and how did they affect your growth as a musician?
RN: I have to write a long list of the names of people who helped me a lot trough my career. But my mentors were Roberto Fats Fernandez and later on Bobby Shew.
Mr. Fernandez showed me lots of things about music and the trumpet. Even though he is a jazz musician he knew about other music styles in general and taught me how to approach the classical style and concertos, as well as different styles of music, and improvisation. It was a big step up for me as a musician and trumpet player at that time that helped me very much.
Then in 2003 I’ve met Mr. Bobby Shew, and I flew to L.A. to take lessons with him. That was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career, for me, studying with B. Shew was a before and after kind of transformation. He showed me how to be more efficient, to play with less effort, improve my lead and section playing, how to listen to music with closer attention and manipulate the sound into different colors. I really appreciated the fact that he offered to show me around the city and even took me to some of his concerts, master classes and shared greats stories with me. It goes into one the best moments in my career meeting Mr. Bobby Shew, for he is not only a great teacher, trumpet player and musician, but one of the kindest people I have ever met, and he treated me like a good friend.
Who have been some of your favorite people to collaborate with so far, and why?
RN: I did a collaboration with the Latinaje Project, a Latin jazz band led by the great bassist, composer and arranger, Guido Martinez. We played lots of high intensity music. They put me in charge of the trumpet and flugelhorn solos. That was an all-star band that I was fortunate to be part of with musicians like Daniel “Pipi” Piazzolla, Astor Piazzolla’s grandson. We played many concerts and I participated on the self- titled debut album with them, which was edited in Spain and voted the best album of the year by La Nacion News critics.
With Wayne Bergeron, a great LA studio lead and soloist trumpet player, I was part of the Florida International Jazz Band. We did a concert tribute to Maynard Ferguson, one of the greatest trumpet players of all time. It was a very challenging concert playing Maynard’s stuff, we were exhausted by the end. Mr. Bergeron was brilliant. It was such a great experience playing that concert with him. He was very humble and easy going, he hung out and shared his experiences with us too.
Can you tell us about some of the albums and tours have you been on?
RN: I played with the trumpets section on Roberto Fats Fernandez’s album “Tangos & Standards” and “Fats Live Birthday.” I also played a trumpet solo on his album “Montecarlo Jazz Ensemble,” which was an album recorded for UNICEF for a fund raising initiative for the Indian descendants in the North of Argentina. It was a collaboration of the most renowned artists of the Argentinian music scene for a good cause.
I was the principal trumpet player and soloist on the Olavarria Symphony Orchestra album recorded in 1998. I liked the fact that the album incorporated some Argentinian composers as well. Plus it involved demanding trumpet parts and required a lot of ensemble work and rehearsal, which paid off when we heard the tracks.
In 1999 I played the famous Italian song ‘Torna a Surriento’ on the soundtrack for the movie Toca Para Mi (Play for Me). I had to put a lot of emotion into each note, and express extreme sadness because the song was for a scene where people gathered together to bid farewell to a beloved character that passed away. It took me a while to get to a state where I could express those feelings trough my trumpet sound.
It was wonderful playing trumpet and flugelhorn solos, as well as being part of the ensemble on the “Latinaje” album. I loved working with that band, and it is comprised of a group of good people and great musicians. It took a lot of love and courage to put together a 16-piece band, all with original composition and arrangements. I have great respect and admiration for Guido Martinez, the bandleader. He let me be free to put my ideas and interpretation into the solos.
I had so much fun playing with the Alejandro Herrera Quintet band on the album “Minority Report.” It was a high intensity group, and again, I was very fortunate to be part of such a talented band.
I played trumpet on Quique Ferrari’s albums “Grave” and “Imperfecto.” Quique is a lifetime friend, and a great artist who I’ve shared many stages and musical moments with. He invited me to record on his albums because he said my sound and the way I phrase music fit perfectly with the concept of his music, of course I was flattered by this and tried to deliver my best. There is a lot of improvisation as well as ensemble playing on the album.
I played on Andres Beeuwsaert’s album “Cruces.” Andres is a great friend of mine, a brother from another mother. We started playing together in the beginning of both our musical careers and even though we took different roads we are still close and share music together frequently. He’s now a distinguish artist in Argentina, and recently won a Konex Platinum Award with the Aca Seca Trio. He invited me to record a few tracks on his album that was going to be edited and release in Japan. His music has a very distinct sound quality, lots of Argentinian folk elements, with complex harmonies, and beautiful orchestration. Subtleness and blending was key to working with Andres’s music.
I also played on the album “Tribute To Edith Piaf” with Juan Hermida, the pianist, arranger, and winner of the Carlos Gardel Award, Pascale Guertin, a Canadian singer, and Claudio Maxit, a drummer and composer. It was a beautiful project recording Edith Piaf’s music, and it was very well put together by this talented group. We recorded the horn section, trumpet, sax, clarinet and trombone. Arrangements were tastefully done and the challenge was to make a sort of 30’s and 40’s type of sound. We did it in one afternoon, and we had a blast. The end result was indeed a very honoring tribute to Edith Piaf where everything was balanced from Pascale Guertin’s voice and expression that cached Edith’s essence, arrangements, performance and studio work. I was proud to be called to contribute to that project.
What projects are you currently working on?
RN: I’m at a point in my career where I want to focus more on my own collective projects, and start composing and arranging more. We already started working on a project with the great Italian drummer Andrea D’ Angelo. We have a great musical connection. We want to create a collective musical statement, based on a stable group where the chemistry is key. I took a year sabbatical and went to Las Vegas for 6 months to start working with Andrea. We have already formed a quintet, and this project includes original compositions as well as some South American and European songs with individual and collective arrangements. We are shooting to record our album in February 2016 and it will be called “From Inside Out.”
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’ll be working on in the next year that you can tell us about?
RN: We have a project set for 2017 that will combine our quintet with a string ensemble plus bandoneon called “Tango meets Jazz.” It consists of presenting some of the classic tango songs of the 20th century fused with elements of jazz harmony and improvisation. We will be presenting it in the form of an octet featuring the voice of the trumpet and flugelhorn. We have recording sessions tentatively planned for June 2017.
What awards have you won so far?
RN:I have won two awards in 1993 and 1996 for the Outstanding Youth of the Olavarrian Culture. They chose one individual of each area of the artistic culture. Dance, Music, Writing… I was chosen for my work with the Symphony Orchestra, Tango Orchestra, T K jazz group touring with Fats Fernandez in the States and Argentina.
From a music point of view, what are the differences between the music scene in Argentina and the United States?
RN: In the US they have a bigger market with well-developed jazz programs in schools. Because music is a powerful healer, it is something that connects us all regardless of nationalities, race or age. The fact that it touches peoples hearts. When you have a bad day, and listen to a song that you like or a certain artist, somehow afterwards you know everything will be ok.
Why are you passionate about music?
RN: As a musician practicing really keeps me going, because the fact is, there is no end to learning more and you are continually evolving. There is always the next song, or better tone or expanding the harmonies etc. As a player and as a listener, there is way more things that I hear now that I didn’t 20 years ago, and on… As performers we are healers in a way and we are responsible to be attuned, so the music can flow through us and let it happen.
Another reason is, when somebody comes to me and says, “Thank you for your music” or similar expressions, and I can see it in their eyes that they enjoyed the moment, we felt the magic of music and they felt it too, it really is a beautiful thing when that happens. Or when I can provide some inspiration to a student, and help them discover new venues in music.
At some point earlier in life, I just fell in love with it. And to me, it sort of feels like a spiritual call. Ever since I was 14 years old I knew I wanted to be a musician, and never doubted about it. It is not easy to make a living as an artist in general, but If I had to choose again I wouldn’t change my mind.