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As guitarist Riccardo Misto has explored several genres and styles, mastering both acoustic instrument (classical, 6 & 12 strings) and electric, from country to rock and fingerpicking, blues and jazz. His training is basically self-taught, with some brief studies with American legendary guitarist Larry Coryell, who had words of high appreciation and encouragement to him.

Riccardo Misto plays guitar along with great drummers
Video Studio Performances

After the "Sarod series", dedicated to indian Sarod and seven John McLaughlin's compositions, a new chapter of so called "Video Studio Performances", where protagonist is the electric guitar, played over different tracks, in which the rhythmic section is leaded by great drums masters. Even if the project is based on drummers, it's not a case that in all the titles there is again the genius of John McLaughlin, as composer or player.
The guitar played by Italian multi-instrumentalist Riccardo Misto is the electroacustic Epiphone Sheraton by Gibson, modified with a Bigsby vibrato, and with scalopped fretboard. It's been recorded directly, processed by a Roland GP 100.

N.1. Dark Prince (Tony Williams, Trio of Doom, 1979)
The first drummer of the collection is Tony Williams, one of the most prestigious masters of contemporary drumming. The track has been realized extracting the intro of Dark Prince, the piece recorded live by supergroup "Trio of Doom" (with John McLaughlin and Jaco Pastorius).
On May 3, 1979 the U.S. State Department sponsored a visit to Cuba for a three-night festival in Havana, known as the Havana Jam.
The different sections of the drum intro have been assembled together in a loop. No other instrument has been added but the guitar, interplaying freely with the drums without any reference to the original composition.

Read article on Allaboutjazz

n.2 - Hunting/The witch (Trilok Gurtu) John McLaughlin -- Molom, 1995.[3:03]
Various clips of the original track (from "Molom" film soundtrack) were extracted and reassembled, trying to avoid the original guitar. On the new base so structured, improvisation unfolds with clusters of nerve and fluent phrasing.

Molom - J.McLaughlin (see details)

n.3 -Tones for Elvin Jones (Dennis Chambers e Zakir Hussain, Live at Crossroads Guitar Festival, 2004)
The backing track has been realized taking the duet section between drummer Dennis Chambers and tablist Zakir Hussain, from live performance with John McLaughlin at Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004, an homage to the great drummer's death. The original studio version was in 1995 CD "After the Rain", where we find just Elvin Jones on drums, together with McLaughlin and Joey DiFrancesco on Hammond organ.
A further track with synth and tanpura has here been overdubbed, conferring a Indian mood, considering the modal aspect of this jazz-raga rendering. Guitar impro is based on Vachaspati scale, n. 64 from South Indian Melakarta, corresponding to the C lydian b7 mode of jazz minor.

Original video here


- With the new video series "Jamming with" and "Jazz guitar standards”, it seems you have abandoned the thread with the Indian sarod, to return back to your first love, the guitar.
- Not really: surely this time I took up the guitar, especially the electric one, with these two new projects of videos on You Tube. But this is not a choice that goes to exclude the "Indian" side, which remains as my prime and parallel way of expression and research. In July, I will play the sarod with the great tabla player from Calcutta Angshubha Banerjee, two Italian concerts (Padua and Vicenza), also attending the event to raise funds for Tibet to be held at the Hotel La Perla in Corvara, promoted by Costa Family Foundation: in this performance there will be at my side percussionist and multi instrumentalist Max Castlunger, for many years collaborating together in testing etnojazz. In autumn, then I’ll return to play sarod, afghani rebab and chinese yangqin with Nihar Mehta, Indian tabla player based in Nice, in Musique sans Frontières, a concert promoted by cultural center La providence . In all these occasions there will always be my wife Silvia Refatto on tanpura.

- Tell us then the idea behind "Jammin" and "Jazz guitar standards”. So far you have released three videos.
- The performance of virtual project with great drummers (which requires at least 5 versions) was born quite by chance, listening to extracts from a concert by Trio of Doom, the supergroup of John McLaughlin with the two superstars Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams: it was just the intro of "Dark Prince" to give me the idea to develop a drum loop to play the electric guitar. I then digitally stitched together the piece, fragmenting to make it more varied and on this groove I improvised freely with my Epiphone, inspired only by the basic rhythm of drums. The result is very dry, essential, but just for this very interesting and stimulating. Sometimes the simplest solutions are those that offer more creative space, allowing more easily to escape from usual and already exploited schemes.
The second video is based on one of the most interesting pieces of soundtrack that McLaughlin had written as commentary for the film "Molom" (set in Tibet), involving the Indian tabla player and drummer Trilok Gurtu. In this case the base uses, as well as drums, the original synth carpet, cut and reassembled here, however, to remove the original guitar. My improvisation, formally, is not too much different from the line made by McLaughlin.

- It seems that in this project you are strongly influenced by the great Scottish guitarist.
- It's true, though initially it was not planned, because the foundation on which I wanted to work was related to the drummers. But then the choice is gone -- I do not know how unconsciously -- to those compositions in which McLaughlin was involved in some way. On the other hand, there is to say that all the greatest drummers have worked with him, and it was so easy to find him, or as author or as performer. I must also acknowledge that my youth idol was John, a musician who influenced me a lot and that is still valuable source of inspiration. I still believe that its value is now universally accepted.

- In the third video we see a very strong connection to Indian music ...
- It 's true, my solo is entirely based on a scale that can be considered Indian, because it corresponds to so-called Vachaspati, n.64 of South India Melakharta , but from another perspective it is instead one of the most used jazz scales, the Lydian b7 (a mode of so-called jazz minor, or melodic minor). This also means that there is a deep similarity between jazz and Indian raga, both based on improvisation. In this track the Indian mood is deeply given by the tabla (played by Zakir Hussain), and the tanpura, which I have added just regarding the modal-indian aspect I wanted to sharpen. The song is both a tribute to Elvin Jones (as in the author's intentions) and to the drummer who is playing there, Dennis Chambers. The section that I extrapolated from the live concert at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, refers to the duet between drums and tabla, where McLaughlin's guitar is present only in the short ostinato counterpoint phrase, that I could not delete.

- Was the choice of a scalopped guitar borrowed from McLaughlin?
- No, this is not to emulate extreme bendings (like on Shakti guitar): in this case it’s been a necessity due to the fact that, to play the Indian sarod, I have two left hand fingernails long, which gives me clear great problems in playing a guitar with a normal fretted neck: so I had to ask my friend luthier to modified my fretboard so to reduce the fingering difficulty, though not entirely.
By McLaughlin, instead, for sure I took the use of vibrato lever, which I mounted on my Epiphone (a Bigsby model). The use of vibrato allows remarkable expression subtleties, allowing those leveling microtones that only a wind instrument can produce, and that approaches the guitar with the potential of the human voice. I would say that, nowadays, I could not forego the benefits that vibrato bar and scalopped fretboard offer.

-The sound of your guitar is very interesting. Can You tell us how did you get it?
- I used an Epiphone Sheraton by Gibson, ES 335 type guitar, but with a shorter scale lenght. It’s an instrument I’m very affectionate to, and I prefer to a more prestigious that I have, a Gibson ES 347. The sound was produced by a processor, a Roland GP 100, an older model that I have for years. This is not a preset patch, but I've worked a lot to modify various parameters for that particular tone that interested me. It 's a sound with not too much distortion (which I use with three different levels) but sufficiently dense and warm, with a slight stereo chorus. In the mixing it has been further equalized. For the solo parts I find it very "fair." For the rhythm and pure sound, instead, I’ve developed a different setup, cleaner and less aggressive: it is used mainly in the series devoted to the Jazz standards.

- Tell us about Guitar Jazz Standards project.
- It’s parallel to the first born, which was more directed to exploring the solo improvisation possibilities. I felt somehow legitimize the need for freedom of expression that solos allow me the, sometimes with great freedom and spirit of adventure, first showing myself to have the right and necessary bases that standards can give. The study and practice of the great themes of the past jazz repertoire, offer a great opportunity to mature and provide an important stimulus for growth of inspiration, opening the doors to personal stylistic and compositional evolution. So I fished out some of my favorite songs from the classics, adapted and structured for solo guitar. I find it extremely interesting and rewarding this technique, which simultaneously performs the solo part of the theme and its harmonization.
Personally I think that standards should be a process of continuous study and analysis, but should not be part of the main repertoire of a jazz musician, who instead must explore and find new ways, unknown and sometimes dangerous, taking the risk that genuine improvisation necessarily involves, but in my view this is the true nature and beauty of jazz. Unfortunately, however, many jazz purists, bound to tradition, merely repeat mechanically fixed and discount schemes, locked in a repetitive self-referential nonsense, in open contrast with the freedom and adventure that jazz can and should give.

- Can you anticipate future publications on You Tube?
- For "Jammin" is certainly in program "Encuentros," McLaughlin’s composition with Elvin Jones on drums and Joey Di Francesco on Hammond organ, and "Freedom Jazz Dance", in the Miles Davis’ quartet version with Tony Williams on drums yet. Then maybe there will be two other versions, but I have not yet clearly identified.
The series "Jazz Guitar Standards', however, includes surely these songs: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Charles Mingus), Blue in Green (Miles Davis / Bill Evans), Django (John Lewis) Naima (John Coltrane) and The shadow of your smile (Johnny Mandel).

"Arena Romana Estate 2007" by Promovies,
in collaborazione con l'Assessorato alle Politiche Culturali e Spettacolo del Comune di Padova,


“GUITAR MOVIE“ Original soundtrack for an imaginary movie
Guitars Live concert with Riccardo Misto
Regia di Silvia Refatto

friday 24 augost 2007 h. 21.15

Palazzo Zuckermann, Corso Garibaldi 33 a Padova

Vaseline machine gun (Leo Kottke)-Palazzo Zuckermann, 24/08/07

Cripple Creek (Trad.)

Hoockfoot Blues (Hoockfoot)

"Meeting of the Spirits" (John McLaughlin) ottobre 2007

Riccardo Misto plays a "cosmic" version of "Django" (John Lewis, modern jazz Quartet)at Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua, Italy,during non stop show "for Mondial day of Poetry", 25/03/06.