Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ernesto Snajer 13 questions

Photo Alvaro Alonso

Ernesto Snajer was born in Paternal, in the city of Buenos Aires, on April 6, 1968. Guitarist, composer and music producer, his style as a performer has proved difficult to label, since it reflects a broad range of musical influences (jazz, tango, South American folkore, rock). This familiarity with playing different genres has enabled him to participate as a recording artist in over seventy albums, including most notably his contributions for León Gieco and Alejandro Lerner, Calle 13, Julieta Venegas, Soledad, Jairo, Kepa Junquera, Axel, Miranda, Ariel Ramírez and Patricia Sosa, Peteco Carabajal, Litto Nebbia, Liliana Herrero, La Bruja Salguero, etc.

with Palle Windfeldt

He has combined his career as a performer with regular teaching activities, giving workshops and guitar courses throughout Argentina.
In addition to the electric and Spanish guitars he plays, from a young age he incorporated the ten-string guitar into his usual set of instruments, inspired by his role model Egberto Gismonti. Ernesto’s interests cover a wide range of sounds and he feels comfortable with acoustic projects as well as more experimental tones. He has been playing MIDI guitars for most of his career. The Argentine guitar maker Esteban González recently asked him to endorse his products and designed a signature model especially for him, the Camarada nylon MIDI guitar.

Photo Santi Yaniz

In 1985, he met the pianist Hernán Lugano. Together they formed the Argentine music group Semblanza, initially with Quique Condomí on violin, and later with Gustavo Toker on bandoneon.In 1987 he had entered the Escuela de Música Popular de Avellaneda, where he took classes in tango with Aníbal Arias and in jazz with Armando Alonso, but he was not able to finish his studies, since touring with Semblanza meant that he was spending more of the year in Europe than in Argentina.

In 1991, he went to live in Copenhagen for a year, at the invitation of Palle Windfeldt, the Danish guitarist with whom he formed Copen-Aires. They have been playing together as a duo for the last 20 years and have performed in Denmark, Sweden, France, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Flesh and the Devil. Photo Carlos Furman

From 1993 to 1995, he accompanied Pedro Aznar (known for his work with the Pat Metheny Group) in the shows “Tributo a Gardel”, “Juntos por Troilo” and “Homenaje a Piazzolla”. He collaborated on Jairo’s CD “Cielos” (produced by Pedro), recording a duet with the Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelembaum. In July 1994, following an audition, he joined Lito Vitale’s group Los Argentinos (the most highly regarded Argentine instrumental music band at that time) along with Javier Malosetti, Marcelo Novati and Manuel Miranda. Between then and 1997, he recorded two CDs with the band. He participated in the recordings for the TV programme “Ese amigo del Alma”, and the presentation tour of “El Grito Sagrado”, which concluded at the Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires.

Photo Alvaro Alonso

He participated as a guitarist on the re-release of “Mujeres Argentinas”, one of the emblematic albums of Argentine music, by Ariel Ramírez and Patricia Sosa. In 1998, a childhood dream became reality when, after handing him a disc at a concert, the maestro Egberto Gismonti produced a CD by Copen-Aires for his label Carmo/ECM. Since 1999, he has led his own formations. So far he has released five discs as a leader. His group members have included: Pipi Piazzolla, Guillermo Romero, Nicolás Gurschberg, Oscar Giunta, Guillermo Delgado and Víctor Carrión. Between 2001 and 2005 he was part of a trio with Verónica Condomí and the percussionist Facundo Guevara, with whom he recorded two CDs (“Cielo arriba”, short listed for the Premio Gardel and “De los tres”).

Photo Alvaro Alonso

In 2003 he directed the teaching project “Argentine Music Week” for the Copenhagen Rhythmical Conservatory. The teaching staff, who travelled over, was made up of: Aníbal Arias and Osvaldo Montes, Negro Aguirre, Fernando Suárez Paz, Ricardo Lew, Nicolás Ledesma, Omar Moreno Palacios. In 2004, for the purpose of presenting the CD Toque Argentino, he undertook a 15-concert tour of Argentina. In 2006, he was invited along with Raúl Fernández to direct the bi-national project “Immigrasons”, commissioned by the Mercat de Música Viva de Vic (Spain) and the Secretaría de Música de Buenos Aires. The commemorative disc of this encounter features the voice of the great Silvia Pérez Cruz.

De Dos Argentinos Photo Seba Pappalardo

Since 2005, Ernesto has headed his own trio alongside two of the most sought-after musicians on the Buenos Aires scene, bass player Guido Martínez and drummer Diego Alejandro.
With this line-up he has given a series of concerts in Buenos Aires, entitled “Snajer trio con Invitados Especiales”, playing with guest musicians that have included Javier Malosetti, Franco Luciani, Negro Aguirre, Juan Quintero, Horacio Fontova, Mariana Baraj, Lisandro Aristimuño, Juan Carlos Baglietto, Edgardo Cardozo and Daniel Maza. These shows were recorded on the DVD, “Doble y falta”.

Con Liliana Herrero Photo Santi Yaniz

The highlights of his work as a producer include the records “Igual a mi corazón” and “Este tiempo” by the great singer Liliana Herrero, both of which won the Premio Gardel, the highest award for recording artists in Argentina. In 2011, as part of the prestigious cycle entitled “Raras partituras”, the Argentine National Library invited Ernesto and his trio, along with guest singer Luvi Torres and saxophonist Ramiro Flores, to produce a live recording of “Lecturas Argentinas”, an album of cover versions of tunes by the country’s great musical composers. He has worked extensively as a composer of original soundtracks for theater, cinema and TV. His most recent offering was the score of “Desierto verde”, a documentary film about the problems of the world food supply.

Between 2010 and 2012 Ernesto presented two duos. One alongside the pianist Diego Schissi, performing covers of Argentine composers. The other, with the writer Pablo Ramos, in a show combining music and literature. Since 2012, he has been presenting the music program “Notas de paso”, transmitted by Canal Á, a dedicated cultural TV channel that broadcasts in Argentina and Latin America. The long list of guests that have participated in the program includes Ralph Towner, Hermeto Pascoal, Naná Vasconcelos, the Ron Carter trio and Sylvain Luc. In 2014, for a movie festival in Buenos Aires, he composed and performed live his version of "Flesh and the Devil", silent movie starring Greta Garbo.

Photo M. Katz

As a performer, Ernesto currently divides his time between concerts with his trio and two duos: De dos argentinos alongside the guitarist Matías Arriazu and Zabeca Duo, with Mariano Cantero, a percussionist and singer known for his work as a member of the Aca Seca Trio.

What do you remember about your first guitar?

I clearly remember coming back from school one afternoon, and seeing this little nylon guitar sitting on the couch. Nobody said or asked me anything. The thing was just there.
And I went crazy, it became my favorite toy, and sometimes the only one (at that time there were no computers, and the TV in Argentina was just in black and white)
So, I spent a lot of time trying to play Beatles' songs.
The instrument’s quality was horrible, and the strings were very high on the fretboard. I thought that it was normal, so I developed a lot of strength in my hand, and when I switched to a good guitar, it seemed to me really easy to play!

Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

first: Machine head Deep purple when I was 11. Stoned me…
last: Led Zeppelin II (for my son’s 17th’s birthday) Still stones me….

Which work of your own are you most surprised by?

I have no doubt, making this TV thing surprised me a lot, in a very good way.
I was skeptical at the beginning, about everything. But soon, I realized that I started to learn interesting things from the guests. Not only musical material, but history and work-related things. It was like having private lessons with people that I admire a lot. And what I liked most, I was able to perceive the purely human side of some great artists. For instance, Hermeto Pascoal told me a couple of things that really are still reverberating in my mind.

What is your relationship with the musical traditions of your country?

I have a really good one, since I love the music of my country, and the rest of Latin America as well. However I have had a few problems with some traditional musicians.
But it has happened to many musicians in my position here, and it seems that is normal in all parts of the world…
I believe that our music in a pure state is great. But I don’t feel any desire to play in that way. I prefer to do my thing, good or bad, it doesn’t matter to me. What I really care about is being honest about what I want to do.

What’s the difference between a good instrument and a bad one?

For me it is such a big difference. But only in terms of playing myself. This does not apply when I have to listen…
The good instrument motivates you to play at all the time, every moment. But I think that you only know the difference when, like me, you’ve played with horrible instruments.
And of course, this is just a personal point of view, and clearly there is a lot of fantastic music played and recorded with bad instruments. When I like something, I do not care what instrument was played.

Define the sound you're still looking for.

Sometimes I dream about that sound…
But I find it hard to describe in words
I think it’s a mix of every sound I love.
And I suppose that my dream it’s not only about a specific sound, but a combination of chords.

What personal, special or strange techniques do you use?

I’ve experimented a lot with MIDI technology, and I’m still working on it very hard.
That’s not very personal, a lot of good guitarists do such a thing.
Maybe something really personal, is the tuning that I use in my ten stringed guitar
It is from 1 to 10: E B G# C# A B (bass) C#(high) F# (bass) D# (high) E (bass)
I found this tuning when I was a kid, in an attempt to differentiate myself from Gismonti’s playing.

Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?

I can mention a lot, but there’s a top five from my childhood:

At 6: listening to Sergeant Pepper, which was not only my first Beatles record, but my very first record
At 10: playing a Gibson Les Paul at my guitar teacher’s house
At 11: listening live to Mercedes Sosa
At 12: listening live to León Gieco
At 13: listening live to the band Seru Giran with Pedro Aznar on fretless bass

Where are your roots? What are your secret influences?

My roots are in the city of Buenos Aires, I’m a typical “porteño”. Tango, folklore, rock, football. For many musicians here is normal to play a tango or a blues, jazz and folklore. Zamba or samba.
Besides music, my great passion is basketball. I was a limited player, and in spite of this I managed to get to our local competition. That basketball experience, I think, has helped me a lot in music. Specifically, developing in me a lot of patience and a sense that we must not abandon our ideals at the first failure, things are not defined in a single game, every season has a long championship… When I was young I knew a lot of good musicians here in Buenos Aires who quit the music business after seeing that nothing was going to be easy and seeing that the environment did not encourage the music that they thought was the best.
I still keep this competitive feeling that you get when you lose a game: next week we’ll see who wins…

And besides basketball (and Manu Ginobili, my biggest idol from any era) I have a lot of things outside of music that influence me. Here are just a few:

Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Auster, Raymond Carver, Juan Carlos Onetti
The three stooges (Moe, Larry, Curly), Get smart, Peter Capusotto, Roberto Fontanarrosa
Marcelo Bielsa (former Argentine national football team head coach)
The pink panther (cartoon), Patán (Muttley),
Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, New York
Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek
Inspector Morse, House of cards, Better call Saul
Evita, Estela de Carlotto
El Bosco, Escher

if you could, what would you say to yourself 30 years ago, about your musical career?

Nothing happened as you planned
It just happened better.
What a lucky guy!

Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

Astor Piazzolla
Luis Alberto Spinetta
Miles Davis
John Lennon
Paul McCartney

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

It happened when I first met Egberto Gismonti in Rio de Janeiro. I has just turned 30, had just become a father and he told me: you are a good musician, but terribly disorganized. You must face the fact that music is your love but also your profession, and if you want to make a life out of playing the music that you love, you must be as professional as you can.

What do you like the most about being a musician?

I love almost everything about being a musician.
But if I had to choose one really nice thing, it would be that feeling when you wake up every morning and realize that you’re about to have a great time playing at home instead of running to an office to work.


Selected Discography

Ernesto Snajer - Semblanza Semblanza
Semblanza (1992, Slow Motion, Alemania)

Ernesto Snajer, Gustavo Toker, Juan Pablo Dobal, Abel Rogantini 

Ernesto Snajer - Preludio Ernesto Snajer
Preludio (1999, Arlyd)

Javier Malosetti, Marcelo Novati, Pedro Aznar, Lito Vitale, Manuel Miranda, Santiago Vásquez, Emil de Waal, Kaare Munkholm, Nikolaj Cavallius, Ale Devries, Ernesto Snajer
Ernesto Snajer - receurdo de argentina
Ernesto Snajer
Recuerdo de Argentina (2000, Arlyd)

Guillermo Romero, Guillermo Delgado, Oscar Giunta (h.), Juan Cruz de Urquiza, Facundo Guevara, Ale Franov, Ernesto Snajer, Quique Condomí, Irene Cadario
Ernesto Snajer - Toque argentino Ernesto Snajer y Grupo
Toque Argentino (2004, Arlyd)

Ernesto Snajer, Ale Devries, Guido Martínez, Facundo Guevara

Ernesto Snajer & Grupo - Despues de todo Ernesto Snajer y Grupo
Después de todo (en vivo) (2006, Arlyd)

Ernesto Snajer, Guido Martínez, Diego Alejandro, Víctor Carrión, Ale Franov, Ale Devries, Diego Schissi, Franco Luciani, Quique Condomí, Mariano Cantero
Bom Zapar Ernesto Snajer Trio
Bom Zapar (2008, Arlyd)

Ernesto Snajer
Guido Martínez
Diego Alejandro
Doble y Falta DVD Doble y falta
Ernesto Snajer trio con invitados especiales (2010, Arlyd):

grabado en vivo con la participación de Baglietto, Liliana Herrero, Negro Aguirre, Juan Quintero, Vero Condomí, Mariana Baraj
Letras Argentinas Lecturas argentinas
Ernesto Snajer Trío.

(coproducción Biblioteca Nacional -  EPSA)

Como parte de la colección "Raras partituras", grabado en vivo, noviembre 2011, en el auditorio Jorge Luis Borges de la Biblioteca Nacional.  Ernesto Snajer trío (Guido Martínez, Diego Alejandro) y Ramiro Flores (saxo) y Luvi Torres (voz) como invitados especiales. Homenaje a grandes compositores argentinos
rnesto Snajer y Palle Windfeldt - Guitarreros Ernesto Snajer y Palle Windfeldt
Guitarreros (1999, Carmo / ECM)

Producido por Egberto Gismonti. Palle Windfeldt, Ernesto Snajer, Flemming Nilsson, Kristian Jorgensen, Kaare Munkholm
Ida y Vuelta
Copen-Aires guitar duo
(Ernesto Snajer- Palle Windfeldt)

Ida y vuelta (2009, Arlyd)
Segundo disco de Snajer- Windfeldt, grabado en Copenague en abril de 2008

Veronica Condomi - Cielo Arriba Verónica Condomí, con Ernesto Snajer y Facundo Guevara
Cielo arriba (en vivo) (2001, edic. independiente / Arlyd)

Verónica Condomí, Ernesto Snajer, Facundo Guevara, Javier Malosetti, Rodolfo Sánchez, Quique Condomí, Irene Cadario

Condomi, Snajer y Guevara - De los tres
Condomí, Snajer, Guevara
De los tres (2005, Arlyd)

Verónica Condomí, Ernesto Snajer, Facundo Guevara, Chango Farías Gómez, Raly Barrionuevo, Carlos Aguirre, Lito Vitale

As Sideman
Lito Vitale - cuentos de la media luna Lito Vitale y Los Argentinos
Cuentos de la medialuna (1994, Ciclo 3)

Lito Vitale, Javier Malosetti, Manuel Miranda, Marcelo Novati, Ernesto Snajer
Lito Vitale - Un solo destino Lito Vitale Quinteto
Un solo destino (2002, Ciclo 3)

Lito Vitale, Ernesto Snajer, Diego Clemente, Guido Martínez, Pipi Piazzolla
Julieta Venegas
Limón y Sal
(2006, Sony BMG)
Victor Heredia
De amor y de sangre
(1995, Polygram)
Sabe quien...
(2006, Artes Group)

Alejandro Lerner
Buen Viaje
(2003, Universal Music)

Luciano Pereyra
(2004, Emi)

(2001, Sony Music)

Entren los que quieran, Calle 13 Calle 13
Entren los que quieran
(2010, Sony)

(2008, Universal)

Ariel Ramirez y Patricia Sosa
Mujeres Argentinas / Cantata Sudamericana
(1997, Emi)

(1995, TST)

Pedro Aznar Pedro Aznar
Parte de volar
(2002, Tabriz Music)