Something New with Cecilia Sanchietti

Welcome to the next interview in our Women in Jazz Media series ‘Something New’ exploring new albums and books through conversation directly with the artist to share a little insight into their work. For this interview we invited team member Migdalia Van Der Hoven to explore the work of our guest Cecilia Sanchietti.

Migdalia Van Der Hoven by Caitlin Pennington

Migdalia is an International Award winning Mexican drummer currently touring with SIX the Musical across the UK and internationally. She is a Berklee College of Music graduate (where she studied and performed with Jackie Santos, Terri Lynn Carrington, Victor Mendoza and Mark Walker). She is also a Canopus Drums, Vater Percussion, Bosphorus Cymbals and RTOM Corporation artist and the UK Ambassador for Hit Like a Girl Contest. Migdalia was also honoured as “Woman of the year 2022” in Mexico in arts and culture for her contribution in music nationally and internationally.

Cecilia Sanchietti by Pasha VP

Award-winning drummer and composer, teacher and art director Cecilia Sanchietti is a versatile and highly experienced performer, with an impressive portfolio. She is also the founder of the brilliant Jazz Mine Network, an Italian organisation whose ‘main purpose is to promote the equal opportunities in Arts to fight the existing imbalances, through educational, advocacy and awareness-raising actions’. Cecilia has recently released two singles from her upcoming album Colours along with a book Leading behind the kit: Composer drummers in contemporary jazz.

MVDH: Tell us a bit about the recent single ‘Pink’ from your upcoming album Colours.

Pink is the last single part of the upcoming Album, “Colours” which will be out in September 2023. It has a new sound, thanks to working with Lutte Berg, a great Swedish/Italian guitar player, very well known in Italy, since he has been living in Rome for many years. The sound is electric, jazz/world music, close to lounge rock mood. Really new for my music! The pink colour for me is the picture of flamingos, angry and powerful flamingos! So that’s the tune cover, I really love it. Composing this tune was so much fun and I have created and alternated pink and blue atmospheres. So, Pink and Blue should be the correct name!

MVDH: As a composer and drummer – what are some of the challenges you face in the writing and performing process when it comes to composing and arranging when your instrument isn’t melodic?

It’s a long discussion and I think that every drummer has faced difficulties in approaching composition. But these obstacles are easily overcome because of the passion, will and love that lots of drummers have for composing and for music in general. To try to support this, I’ve published a book Leading Behind the Kit. in which I’ve interviewed some of the best drummer composers, to study their way of learning and give some examples. Like everyone in the book says and me too, yes, it’s not easy, but it’s possible, first of all because most of the drummer composers play piano and have studied theory and composition. Secondly because it’s not necessary to start from theorical knowledge or apply harmonies rules, usually the drummers compose in an instinctive way, starting from the melodies, cantabile melodies, finding them on the piano and, after that, building a song structure. So, what is false is that drummers are not melodic or they don’t think in a melodic way. It’s exactly the contrary, me and many others, love melodies and this is a first important step for creation. Also, we have other tools that other musicians miss – rhythm techniques, time knowledge, capacity of inventing groove and comp jazz ways. It’s really hard to figure out a drums comp in jazz for a not drummer musician. So, yes, I’ve sometimes had difficulties in composing, but I try to use alternative solutions and invent new ways, without taking care (not always) in respecting musical rules. I focus on music, which for me, is the main important thing. About writing music and arrangements abilities I’m really used to doing it and I love it, I don’t face many obstacles in creating music for ensembles.

Photo by Chiara Baldini

MVDH: What other instruments do you play and what are some tips for current drummers that would like to start writing their own music, especially jazz?

I play a bit of piano but I’m not a piano player. I can play what is necessary for composing. I’ve started to play bass, but I’ve stopped for now, I love it, but I don’t have the time for practicing. About the suggestions to the drummers that would like to start composing, I can say: feel your soul, your heart and desires, music is not an issue of formal competences and rules, when you write listen to yourself and the rest will be easy. Tell a story (how Philly Jo Jones said). If you have a story you want to tell, a sentiment, a message, start from that, find your notes, your own notes and nobody can say anything! Music is not something correct or not, it’s yours. So, yes, it will sometimes be hard and you need to study too, but you can do it. Mainly you have to try, more times, write lots of songs, make mistakes, compose some songs you will not like (not every song is the best one!), but it’s a process. Don’t stop it or don’t avoid starting because you think it’s impossible or it’s not “drummers stuff”.

MVDH: Tell us a bit more about your book?

Leading behind the kit: The drummers composers in contemporary jazz’, is a publication with interviews with some of the best drummer composers, from Terri Lyne Carrington, Edu Ribeiro, Magnus Ostrom, Israel Varela, Lisabeth Diers and more. Through their responses, I designed a typical picture of a drummer composer, from a personal and professional point of view. This was because speaking with them, I discovered some common aspects, starting from the reasons and way of composing, to the songs characteristics and writing strategies. I decided to produce it, to give testimony that drummers can be excellent writers, too and also create a didactic tool for students and musicians.

MVDH: What is the jazz scene like in Italy and Sweden? Especially for female composers and drummers?

Photo by Roberto Scorta

In my opinion, the jazz scene in Italy is going through a very difficult time, especially for important festivals. The artistic directions mainly involve international artists or the big Italian names or so-called young talents, who have already disappeared in the following season. So many good musicians remain in an intermediate level, which it is really very difficult to get out. The same for the type of jazz, now experimental, electronic jazz is very much in fashion and there are not many opportunities for other types of jazz. In Sweden it is slightly different, there are definitely more opportunities, more stages, more clubs and festivals that do jazz. This increases the possibilities. Jazz is also transversal, with a variety of offerings, although traditional, mainstream jazz is very much in fashion.

As for the situation with female musicians, it is very different, in Italy we are still very backward, few stages and opportunities and bands that are still not mixed. Women still have to prove that they know how to play, there are still many prejudices, even if not explicit, but silent, veiled and therefore more dangerous. In Sweden they have overcome this and now women musicians have obtained more rights. They are present and representative, the organisers are obliged to produce egalitarian programming, just as magazines must and will give balanced space. Here too there are obviously difficulties, but much less frequent.

MVDH: Who are your influences both as a drummer and a composer? I can see a few players listed in your book from a composing/drumming point of view…but what about performing in terms of style, genre and feel?

My main references for the drums, are certainly some of the drummers in Northern Europe who marked an important transition in understanding the drums not only as a rhythmic instrument. I am talking especially about John Christenseen and Magnus Ostrom himself. But also drummers who came from other musical genres and distinguished themselves by their sound, Jo Jo Mayer, Christian Meyer, Gavin Harrison, Larnell Lewis and Stewart Copeland.

You can buy Leading behind the kit. The drummers composers in contemporary jazz here

Purchase the new single Pink here

And follow Cecilia’s work through her website here

Last modified: April 11, 2023