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Sandro Dominelli
Sandro Dominelli has been called one of Canada�s most tasteful drummers

Setting the Groove with Sandro Dominelli

Sandro Dominelli parlays the rhythm and flavor of the streets into an award winning album called The Alvo Sessions.

By Shelley Gummeson

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Alvo – meaning very good, excellent; “cool or awesome”. 

There is plenty of cool in Sandro Dominelli and his latest album The Alvo Sessions. He came away with a Western Canadian Music Award for Jazz Recording of the Year, on October 24 in Kelowna.  Dominelli also won the same award for his first album Café Varze Jazz in 2003, in addition to a Juno nomination.  The elated musician says of receiving this nod for the second time at the WCMA’s, “It’s sweeter. It’s a little nerve-wracking.  You’re sitting there and they’re calling off all the nominees.  All those records that were up were really great. I actually checked almost all them out and I thought it was anybody’s award.”  Not only was Sandro there for the awards, he had two performances in the city as part of BreakOut West, a music industry conference and festival.  The rest of the trio, Rez Abassi (guitar) and Chris Tarry (bass) flew in from New York to give The Alvo Sessions experience to a new audience. Abassi and Tarry are both acclaimed musicians in their own right. The I�m always in search of my own voice at the same time pair flew home to New York in the wee hours after the gigs, leaving Sandro to face the music with the support of his wife Brandy.  “No matter how long you’ve been doing this,” says Sandro, “It’s still a beautiful thing to be recognized for your hard work.”  He gives high praise to the host city, noting the warm welcome and electric buzz generated around the event.

What brings this drummer out from the traditionally supportive role of the drums, to that of a successful leader?

Sandro notes that a lot of times a drummer will play with a number of different people and then make a record because they want to do their own thing.  “I do work with a whole bunch of different people, and fortunately I’m still doing that,” he says.   “As a player, when I do perform with other artists, most times I’m playing a certain role, to make sure that the music I’m playing for them is within the boundaries. This is my opportunity to really challenge myself as a musician, a writer, and a band leader.  I’m always in search of Sandro Dominelli accepts award for Best Jazz Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards October 2010
Sandro Dominelli accepts award for Best Jazz Recording of the Year
at the Western Canadian Music Awards October 2010
my own voice at the same time,” says Dominelli. “To be able to do my own records let’s me be that person.  To stretch out and try to have a unique sound.”  It is evident that Sandro Dominelli has music simmering in his blood.  He has done his own thing four times, to fan and industry acclaim. 
Thoughtfully addressing the difficulty of transitioning between the two, Sandro says, “Really, it’s not too difficult when you’re writing the tunes especially. It’s your music.  Also, I can sort of send music in a different way, like the dynamic of it, the groove of it, and the rhythm of it.  I can put my voice up front, and when you have such great players as I did on this particular record, they fill in the cracks and bring their personality to it.”

Dominelli’s distinctive sound on The Alvo Sessions can be attributed in part, to the fact he likes to take to the streets of the cities he finds himself in.  He arrived in New York five days prior to recording The Alvo Sessions specifically to capture the flavor of the city streets before recording. Finding himself turned around in an unfamiliar neighborhood, while looking for the recording studio, Sandro took the time to embrace the sights, sounds, and No matter how long you�ve been doing this, it�s still a beautiful thing to be recognized for your hard work vibe in a full sensory onslaught.  He infused the feel of the streets into the music by bringing together the slightly eastern, exotic overlay of Rez Abassi’s guitar, Chris Tarry’s progressiveness on the electric bass, and his own intuitive brush and stick work on the drums. This trio reached a high level of musical communication in an exquisitely nuanced manner.  “This is something that I’ve envisioned for probably three years,” recalls Sandro.  “I like the trio format, because it gives me more room to open up and play.  It is unique, I think because of the ensemble, electric guitar, electric bass and I would call it acoustic drums, acoustic sounding in terms of tuning.  I’ve always wanted to put out a little more of an aggressive sound.  I play a lot of different styles of music and this was almost something I needed to do.  Some of it is pretty and some of it is aggressive.  The aggressive part is something that my other records didn’t have.   I think I’m doing the right thing.” We did a cross country tour this past summer and I believe people liked it.  There was a buzz and energy around it.

There is certainly no lack of energy where Sandro Dominelli is concerned.  Busy for him incorporates many things, from composing, playing drums, to teaching at Grant McEwen College in Edmonton, Alberta.  He also does workshops, master classes, music clinics or camps and says the studio business picks up the slack.

He has been called one of Canada’s most tasteful drummers and you can take that two ways.  Not only is he an award winning musician, and producer he’s also a chef.  When asked what his specialty in the kitchen is Sandro carefully considers his culinary endeavors, “I’m not sure what my specialty is, but the longer it takes to do a dish, that’s the one I like to do. If it takes say three and a half hours to do a sauce and another forty minutes to finish off the dish, that would be my favorite one to do.  I get to hang out with the food all afternoon.” 

Whatever this dynamic drummer chooses to do, the common ingredient is passion.

For further information on the artist, producer and chef, as well as some mouth watering recipes visit www.sandrodominelli.com
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