What is your earliest memory of holding an instrument?
I started playing drums when I was 22 years old. It had started out as a hobby, and at that time I was reading for a degree in marketing and working other jobs unrelated to music, so my focus wasn’t completely there. However, I always felt a strong connection with the drum kit. I was very much into heavy metal, so I used to try and play along to some of my favourite bands and copy what the drummers were doing. A few years later, I started upgrading my equipment, got together with some bands and started performing regularly. It was then that my interest in becoming a full time musician had begun.
I started to listen to more popular and contemporary musical styles and got involved in different projects and it basically took off from there. When I was 27, I then started getting professional tuition which then led me to pursue my music education locally and abroad. I was lucky enough to meet some great artists and also study and share experiences with them. I believe that listening to these people is the greatest lesson one could learn.
How did the Montaldi Project start and what can your audience expect from your music?
The Montaldi Project is a musical venture formed by three musicians from Italy, Malta and Lithuania, with Mirko Montaldi on guitar, myself on drums and Gediminas Stepanavičius on double bass. The project focuses on free jazz, improvisation and structured music. I met Gediminas and Mirko at the conservatory. They’re great players and individually great people. We used to get together and just play jazz tunes and learn from each other. Later on, we decided to get the project together. Mirko, who is the band leader, always brings a lot of energy to our rehearsals. He chooses a lot of the compositions/arrangements and also composes his own material.
What inspires your composition?
Our main focus is the jazz tradition, early and modern jazz, the language and also the energy. We inspire each other and compose on the spot around a given form or melody.
If you had to create a line up for a concert, who would be on the list?
Well, that’s a tough question. There are several people with whom I’d like to play, but some of them have passed on and some are in their 80s now. My dream team would be Wayne Shorter on sax, Paul Chambers on bass and McCoy Tyner on the piano.
Where does the band see itself in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully touring, composing and making music together. It’s the journey and the experience together which is most important rather than the popular success of ‘stardom’.
The Montaldi Project will be performing original pieces as well as compositions and arrangements commemorating the late Ornette Coleman and also Thelonious Monk at St James Cavalier on the 28th November at 8.30pm. This will be followed by a jazz workshop on the 29th, which is open to musicians and the general public at 5pm. Tickets for both events can be purchased here.