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A Diamond in the Rough

Joseph Diamond is a new major jazz piano talent to emerge on the contemporary scene! His sound is fresh, innovative, colorful, and alive with techniques that reveal his unique piano personality!

His first CD, "Not Your Typical New Yorker," see the new CD review of it on Jazzreview.com, is a highly successful and original group of songs composed by Joseph Diamond with a distinctive Latin Jazz sound.

Joseph Diamond is a new name to join the ranks of the first class jazz pianists performing today! His music will find many new listeners with its beautiful harmony and melody approaches, and its ability to linger in the mind long after the songs are performed!

JAZZREVIEW.COM: Joseph Diamond, it is a pleasure to visit with you, and let me start this interview by saying I believe your CD, "Not Your Typical New Yorker," is destined to become a jazz classic. As a composer, you are in top form on this CD, and each composition is flawless. What was your inspiration in putting together, "Not Your Typical New Yorker?"

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I thought it was time for me to make a statement about myself and my music. I've never had the courage or conviction to really stay focused and do something of such magnitude. I've always written music all my life, but never did anything with it. I just decided I wasn't going to wait for something to happen, I would make it happen.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: You have an unusual background in music, and would you please share some of the highlights with your fans and the readers? Did it all start out at Liberty, New York?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: That's where I was born and grew up . I have 3 brothers and when I was young my mother had all of us take piano. I studied a lot of classical music when I was young and didn't immerse myself in jazz or Latin until I was much older. My first exciting gig was playing in Aruba in the early eighties with an all-Argentinian Show band. It was my first time really away from home for a long period of time and it was real exciting. I have also worked on cruise ships that have gone on world cruises and have picked up a lot of my musical character from all the places I have visited.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: I have listened to your CD many times, and I am amazed at the beauty of your stylings, and technical gifts as a pianist. I could not help but visualize through hearing, the graceful and lyrical clarity of your piano playing.......in fact, I place you in the same intricate mood of stylings that pianists Peter Nero and Bill Evans pioneered, with the comment that you seem to bridge both and go even further! I found this particularly true of your beautiful composition titled "Broken Heart," which by the way, deserves much air play over the radio! Who are some of your favorite pianists, living or dead, classical, pop, or jazz?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: Unfortunately Broken Heart is I think a little to eclectic for Mainstream Jazz and Smooth Jazz Stations for them to play. It would go great in a movie score as the song has a very haunting and melancholy feel to it and it really was really written at a time in my life when my heart was broken. As far as pianists I have listened to and admire the list is so long that I couldn't begin. Let's just say I have put the time in to study all the great pianists from Art Tatum to Herbie Hancock, latin pianists from Oscar Hernandez to Papo Luca. As far as Peter Nero and Dave Brubeck go I really didn't do much listening to them, in fact I don't think I ever listened to Peter Nero.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: Which of those pianists influenced your development as a pianist the most?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: Well if I have to name real influences I would say, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Kelly, Joe Sample, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Oscar Hernandez, and many more.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: You have a true affinity for Latin Jazz. How did this come about, and what other forms of jazz interest you?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I've always loved latin music, including Salsa, Brazilian, Bomba y plena, Afro Cuban, but didn't really start to study it until I went on my World Cruise and started spending time in these cultures and countries where I listened to a lot of the music. When I moved to NYC about 6 years ago I studied at a Conservatory named Boys Harbor in " El Barrio" and began to listen how great latin pianists constructed their " montunos". I noticed that I was able to really pick up on this rather fast and suddenly my writing started to incorporate this latin feel. As far as other forms of jazz I like, I listen to most everything. I like to stay open to all types of music and styles.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: When did you first know you would become a jazz pianist, and what were the circumstances?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I had a teacher in high school who saw something in me that I didn't see. He told me to pursue music because he felt that I could do something with it. Also my best friend and musical mentor Drew Francis (He tragically passed away last year not long after recording, he played sax and flute and synthesizers and helped me produce and mix the CD) really showed me many things. Our friendship goes back 20 years and he really was the first truly outstanding musician I met in my life. He saw something in me and always liked to work on music I had written.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: When you are composing, what is your process? What is your secret, Joseph!! The music is complex yet so accessible, so beautiful!

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I think my melodies are real strong and memorable. The songs have a lot of sections but flow nicely into one another. Lastly, it feels good. I see people moving when they listen to the music.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: As you probably have heard, there seems to be a jazz resurgence going on in the Southwest.....do you plan to tour the USA, take in places like New Mexico and Arizona in the immediate future?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: Well right now the big thing is to get the music exposure. Being an independent I don't have the resources of a huge conglomerate but slowly and surely I am making headway. Right now the CD is available in most major chains (Coconuts, Recordtown, Camelot Music, Tower Records, HMV, Borders , Peaches, Spec's Music) online (josephdiamond.com, Amazon.com , Twec.com) and if it is not in your local store most stores can order it. The big thing right now is to get it on radio. I feel like the music can crossover into a few different formats. Once people start hearing the music and getting familiar with it I think it will be a whole different story.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: To what do you attribute the continuing popularity in Latin Jazz?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I think people enjoy the combination of percussion and clave with a lttle improvisation.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: You use the name, "Montoya," and would you share with the readers something about this, please?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: It goes back to my days in Aruba. The band I was playing with gave me the nickname Montoya and it stuck. The song Montoya actually was written in Aruba in the early eighties but I later updated it to add the montuno section.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: Is sheet music currently available of your compositions?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: Not at this point but as the music becomes more exposed I plan on doing this.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: What is your next CD going to be like?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I already have all the music written and we have been rehearsing it. I dare to say that it will be even better than the first record. Vince and Leo (drummer and bassist in the band) think the music is simpler and more direct.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: Joseph, it has been a pleasure and fun visiting with you. Is there anything else you would like to share with the jazz listeners and jazz readers who enjoy your excellent piano performances?

JOSEPH DIAMOND: I just hope people will go out and tell some people about the music and support my efforts as an independent artist trying to go against all these major labels who have so much more money and resources to get the music out than I do. I really feel my music is unlike anything else out there, and there is real honesty in the music. I think that's what comes across. Thanks for letting me do this interview and your kind words in your review.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joseph Diamond
  • Subtitle: An interview with jazz pianist Joseph Diamond
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