The Bergen Record

                                                                                                         The Record, Wednesday, March 13,1991

By Lisa Rein

Record Staff Writer

    At 4 when most kids watch cartoons, Vincent Venezia was playing 45’s on his record player. Mostly he flipped Beatles hits over and over. At 8, he was strumming Sixties rock- and-roll on the guitar.

    In high school, rock gave way to jazz and stuck. Now, at 30, the Cliffside Park musician is well on his way to establishing himself in the New York jazz scene. Along the way, he’s searching for his own style.

    “For now I’m going along, and when I find my own voice, it’ll happen,” he says. “I’m working hard and studying trying to take command of the instrument.”

    The club scene isn’t the only place he’s getting noticed.

    In January, for the second year in a row, Venezia’s guitar playing won him a $3000.00 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to study with Michael Stern, formerly a guitarist for legendary trumpeter Miles Davis.

    "I'm really, really flattered by this," he says, sitting on his couch in his Morningside Avenue apartment which doubles as a teaching studio.



“In music you’re always looking for artists whose musicianship you can aspire to, so this is a real help."
    He competed with almost 400 musicians for the jazz fellowship grant, one of 51 the NEA awarded across the nation to jazz musicians for composition, performance and study.    Venezia’s taped improvisations on three jazz standards—“Cherokee,” “Have You Met Miss Jones,” and “Like Someone In Love”—won him the award.     Venezia supports himself with teaching and traditional gigs---weddings and social functions. They're far from the New York jazz scene he aspires to full time, but for the time being, he finds challenges in that world.    “I try to make the best of it,” the curly haired musician says with a laugh. “Just getting a pickup band to sound like you’ve been playing together for 10 years isn’t always easy.”    His dream is one familiar to all musicians---to support himself with jazz engagements and eventually recordings. "To make a living that way...well, I just have to be patient," he says.


     Venezia plays steel-string guitar with a gentle touch, borrowing, he says, from Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery and Bill Frisell. He’s got five guitars, ranging from a nylon stringed classical instrument to a solid body electric guitar.           
    He’s played the jazz club circuit in Hoboken, and, in January, he performed with bass player Kermit Driscoll at the Knitting Factory, a trendy Manhattan club.
    Lately, he says, he’s been writing and composing on guitar but trying to find melodic lines for a horn. He hums what he says will be a horn line as he plays a few bars of a recent effort---unnamed for now. 
    After years of playing guitar for up to eight hours a day, Venezia says it hard for him to explain why he chose the instrument. He mulls this, plays some more, mulls again, and it comes to him.
    “It’s an instrument you have a kind of physical relationship with, he says. “I think that lends itself to lots of different ways to express yourself.”   

Make a free website with Yola