As anyone who has seen us perform knows, our trio embraces the idea of collective arranging and improvisation. We know the tunes, the chords and melodies, and from there we jump in and try to create a piece of music that is living and developing NOW, in the moment. Each of us is involved is in creating our own part while interacting with the others, bringing our own personalities together with the trio's collective identity.
Whew! That's a mouthful!
What makes it a pleasure for us, and interesting for the audience, we hope, is the genuine musical respect and personal affection we have for each other as life-long friends. We communicate what our musical intentions are to each other so instantly sometimes that it's uncanny, especially to us!
The audience feels it, too.
We've played together so much and with so much interaction that sometimes people think we spend many hours rehearsing to get it right. No, it's just the way we play "on the fly." We listen to each other and react to the music.
It's great fun for us, and I know a lot of you have come to our gigs time after time to see that aspect of our music. It's not just about one musician soloing over a background of chord changes. As wonderful as that can be this is more about three good friends making a new piece of music every time we play together.
We're thrilled that our friend Ben was able to get a recorded snapshot of our music. We're glad to finally be able to bring some of it to those who have been asking for years, "Where's your CD?"
Well, here it is. We hope you enjoy it!
Carmen, Cosmo and Rick
from The Daily Press, June 29, 1984
Review by Stephen Roberts
The Carmen Caramanica Trio serves up some of
the finest music in the Upstate New York area.
The trio, fronted by gifted guitarist Caramanica,
excites and challenges listeners without going
off on tangents that would lose any audience
member who is willing to listen open-mindedly.
What the group plays is primarily - but not exclusively - jazz, and there are numerous elements of improvisation, too. They'll take a standard ballad, such as "My Funny Valentine," and work it carefully, looking at melodic nuances, and the chord structure, and then trade off solos with guitar, bass and drums all having their time in the limelight. The interesting part is that for all of the technical intricacy that's going on, there's nothing obscure; nothing impossible to fathom.
The trio, Caramanica (guitar), Cos Castellano (bass) and Rick Compton (drums) works well as a unit. They've been together for more than thirty years, and they're obviously an extremely compatible bunch of musicians - which is absolutely necessary for an improvisational work to fly. And although each of these musicians is a first-rate and dynamic soloist, there's never a push for front stage.
"It's our aim," Caramanica said, "to reach our audience. We're not up there just to jam, and to go our own way; we want to keep listeners involved in our process."
It's clear that the trio strives to play at a high level of musical accomplishment, but they want to make what they're doing accessible to their audience, and want to make it enjoyable, too. That's another reason why the group "mixes it up." On any given night that the group performs, you're likely to hear not only jazz, but also rock, funk, Latin, bossa nova and classical music. And while it isn't a jazz-rock fusion group in the sense the term is used nowadays, the three try to choose from a wide arena of musical styles.
Bassist Castellano, for instance, has logged a lot of time as a classical performer and he brings that experience with him. Drummer Compton is the author of "Jazz Drumming; Time and Improvisation", a drum set method book. Both Castellano and Compton have bagsfull of musical experience. Each has played with illustrious jazz musicians and each has worked with several other groups before joining Caramanica in the trio.
Caramanica is one of Utica's leading and best-known musicians. He toured as a featured guitarist with pop singer Tony Orlando, and has previously worked as a musical director/arranger/conductor for jazz/soul singer Lou Rawls.