Jazz at it’s best
Robert Castelli and Boom By George R Glasser.
Robert Castelli is a third-generation drummer behind his father and grandfather. His album “Party at One Wrld Plaza” pretty much exhibits Castelli’s genetic predeposition for playing drums and mastery of the craft.
“Party at One World Plaza” is a memorable, well-executed, and engineered album.
Listening to the band, I can close my eyes and imagine I’m sitting at the best table in the house sipping Cuba Libres with my favorite girlfriend. It’s the type of band that if you walk past a club and hear the music pouring out onto the street, you’re going to stop, listen, ante-up the cover charge to stick around and dig an evening of great Jazz. Then after the last call, the echoes of what you heard linger on for days.
As a drummer, Castelli is dominant while ironically not appearing to dominate the tunes. His drumming fades in and out, and when he comes out from the shadows, you realize you’re listening to a guy who is in the same league as Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, and Art Blakey.
The whole band is comprised of journeymen musicians.
Being a Jimmy Smith fan, I was particularly struck by Gilles Estoppey on the Hammond B-3 organ.
Dani Perez’s guitar work is reminiscent of the guitarists’ Miles Davis used during his Fusion period – fiery to understated instinctively feeling out what a tune called for.
Emilio Martin did what good bass players do – held down the groove with some nice runs – the bass player is the glue that bonds a band together, and Martin did a superb job.
Finally, my hat’s off to the engineer, Viktor Haraszti, for a flawless mixing and mastering job.
Every track of “Party at One World Plaza” is topnotch and there’s not a boring moment. Castelli doesn’t waste time on pretentious, self-indulgent intros; he dives headfirst into a tune and you’re off on a whitewater rafting trip – it’s all exciting hold onto your seat action.
There’s nothing better than an accomplished rhythm section driving the other members to do their best.
Castelli is one of those quintessential Jazzmen that can set a club on fire.
Being curious after getting into his backstory, I asked Castelli what it was like being the son of a professional musician and about his experiences coming up the ranks:
“You can imagine being a wide-eyed kid when your dad’s a musician.
“I used to help my dad load the kit into the car and help him with the set up wherever he played. Then at two in the morning, my mom would wake me because she didn’t like to drive alone at that time, and we’d go pick him up. That’s when I actually saw him really play!
“You know how it is at a gig like that. An hour of light background ‘cocktail’ music, but the last set, everyone is blasted & going nuts! So, from a playing point of view, beginning, BORING, the end, CRAZY!!!
“I also remember many times at theatres and even the Circle Line, where my dad knew the band or someone in the band, and they’d shout ‘Tommy! Come up & play!’
“I was so excited & wanted to be a drummer!
“When my dad was young he played in a big band. The Palmer/Tanno Orchestra. They bought a car and put the band’s name on it. They drove up & down the east coast doing gigs. That was way before I was even an itch as they say.
“My father was almost blind so he never drove a car. My mother used to take him to gigs and back. I have crazy stories about how he got to gigs before they were married.
“In addition to learning the basics from my father, I had the good fortune to study with some of the best drummers in the world.
“The two drummers I studied with the longest and affected my playing and approach the most were Ed Soph and Kim Plainfield. They’re great drummers, great human beings, and amazing teachers. I’ve also studied over the years with Gary Chester (a boyhood friend of my dad), Robbie Gonzalez, Tony (Thunder) Smith, Robbie Ameen, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, and Joe Ascione. Every one of those guys blessed me for life, and I try to live up to those blessings every day.
“My first time on stage was when I was eight, playing for a visiting African diplomat at the AFM Hall in Mount Kisco, New York. My dad was a lifetime member of AFM 802 (NYC) and 82 (Westchester County). I played claves at that performance. After that, I played with rock bands in high school. then I got into Weather Report and Fusion and worked backward to bebop.
“Of course, living in New York, I was exposed to Latin, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban music. I kicked around NY playing any gigs I could get. All the usual–weddings/club dates, small clubs, musical theater, and later small stadiums and small tours on the East Coast and in Europe.”
Castelli’s range of experiences is evident upon listening to his work and can’t be taught in a university – it comes from experience. All the tracks are original compositions by Castelli.
“Party at One World Plaza” can be purchased and previewed at Bandcamp.