Journal Square . Marion . Little India . Bergen Hill . The Island . McGinley Square . Sparrow Hill . Hilltop . Western Slope . Bergen-Lafayette . Greenville . City Line . Lincoln Park . West Side . the Heights . 440 . Dog Patch . Hackensack River Waterfront . Country Village . West Bergen . Society Hill ... what did I leave out?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interview with Pedro Giraudo

It was early March of this year, a work-at-home day, meaning I read and wrote and listened to talk radio in the background. That day Soundcheck, John Schaefer's music review program on WNYC radio, brought Pedro Giraudo's music and voice into my ears. Pedro was cool and present, and the performances soothed and lifted me up while I researched and wrote an essay. At the time, I didn't know he lived a block away from me.

I met Pedro a couple of weeks later at Ed's Salvage Co., also on our street, remembered the SoundCheck interview and nodded happily to myself to know another world-class musician among us.

Of course, I had questions, which Pedro kindly agreed to answer.

* * *

UC: How long have you been playing jazz bass?

PG: Well, I started playing the piano when I was three, at four I added the violin, both classical. I stopped playing violin at age six and continued with the piano. When I was 17, I was invited by one of my very best friends to join his rock band, so I bought an electric bass. In 1996 I moved to NYC and went to school to study music. Most of my classmates were not very welcoming of the electric bass, so eventually and luckily I switched to the acoustic bass which is my main instrument now and one I deeply love.

UC: What first inspired you to make music? To play jazz?

PG: I was in contact with music from the very beginning of my life. My mother used to sing in a choir, so I probably heard some of that while in her womb. My father was a symphony orchestra conductor, so I was in touch with music making and playing instruments from very early in my life. There isn't a pivotal moment when I got inspired to start making music, it has been a really natural and important part of my life from the beginning.

UC: How long have you lived in Jersey City? What brought you here?

PG: I've been in living in Jersey City for 5 years now. First, downtown, now near Journal Square*. After getting married, Jersey City offered me the chance to afford to rent a place for my wife and me, and later on offered me the opportunity to own our place. I really like it here, I have many friends in the neighborhood and there a lot of very cool stores and people.

Pumping up daughter Vera on the swings in Lincoln Park.

UC: What is your favorite non-jazz music/musician, and why?

PG: That's a very difficult question to answer. I play and listen to a LOT of music (jazz, classical, Cuban, Venezuelan, some rock, tango, Argentine folk music, etc.). I'll quote Duke Ellington. When asked about the two main types of music, meaning classical and jazz, he said those were not the two types of music, the real ones were good and bad music. I love good music, regardless of style.

UC: Do you think Jersey City is ready for a jazz fest? Would you participate?

PG: Absolutely! I know there are a lot of professional musicians in JC and also a lot of people would come out to hear live music. I'd LOVE to participate. I think we are also ready for a jazz club in Jersey City, a place that regularly presents some of the jazz talent that seems to stop on the other side of the Hudson River.

UC: Are your band members constant or do they rotate? Who are they?

PG: They are constant as they can be. The oldest members of the band have been with me since the very beginning, 2000, and the newest member has been with us for five years. All of them are outstanding players and we all have very complex agendas, so once in a while I have to find substitute players for our performances.

They are:
Will Vinson, alto sax, soprano sax & flute
Todd Bashore, alto sax & flute
Luke Batson, tenor sax, flute & clarinet
Carl Maraghi, baritone sax & bass clarinet
Jonathan Powell, trumpet
Tatum Greenblatt, trumpet & flugelhorn
Ryan Keberle, trombone
Mike Fahie, trombone
Jess Jurkovic, piano
Jeff Davis, drums
Tony De Vivo, cajon
Pedro Giraudo, bass and composition
Special guest: Sofia Tosello, Voice

UC: Do you eat breakfast? Your preference/s?

PG: I'm a light breakfast person. Mate is the drink of choice (Argentine tea-like beverage, drunk out of a dried gourd, filled 3/4 with mate tea, and sipped out of a metal straw. It is a drink you share and it has stimulant properties), sometimes with a toast or something like that.

* Footnote: Technically, Pedro lives in McGinley Square, but a lot of people don't know where that is so I left his more familiar reference to Journal Square. It's only a few blocks' distance anyway.
* * *

You can follow Pedro at www.PedroGiraudo.com and on Facebook.
Thanks to Ed Ramirez of Ed's Salvage Co. for introducing me to Pedro Giraudo.

And yes, Pedro is definitely a member of the Uptown Crew.

Lincoln Park photographs by
Trish Szymanski, for Uptown Crew.


  1. Thank you for the story of yet another talented person living outside of the downtown area. I would love to see one of the restored storefronts on Monticello used as a venue for the wide range of musicians, artists, poets and writers in our neighborhood to showcase their respective professions in this fabulous area of town.

  2. There are properties on Monticello Avenue that are for rent that can play a big roll in the arts movement.... 116 Monticello Avenue would be perfect.