Thoughts on the music of Jerry Ascione
When I met Jerry Ascione almost twenty years ago, we immediately "connected". Today, I feel this does not happen in music as often as it should. It seems that even musicians are becoming more insular and their lives more self-centered. But in the years since we met, my friendship with Jerry has expanded greatly, both personally and musically. Jerry is that rare person who is not only sensitive person and talented musician, but also an unselfish writer and artist.
Jerry has experienced a great deal of music over his lifetime. This is very obvious in his writing. Jerry is also a marvelous pianist, but because he is always looking to the bigger picture, he seldom features himself as soloist. Yet I want to state to everyone that he is an excellent one!
What I love about Jerry's music is that it displays the same qualities he exhibits as a person. While he has the "chops" to write those "flag-waving killers" so prevalent in larger ensemble music today, he chooses instead to use the musical influences he has absorbed over the years from Jazz and the classics to create musical excitement -- without all of the orchestrational acrobatics! Jerry's writing challenges the musical side rather than just the physical capabilities of musicians, allowing them to draw upon the myriad experiences they have culled from a lifetime of playing. From this comes the excitement in his music.
Whether writing original compositions or arrangements of other composers' music, Jerry understands the feelings he wants to express and conveys them beautifully. When writing for a soloist, he knows how to amplify the player's sound while allowing him complete creative freedom and musical expression. He gives the player the full palette of colors with which to paint his picture, but never forces him into any particular "bag." Jerry has written a number of arrangements for me, two of them arrangements of my own compositions. They always feel "just right." I never tire of playing Jerry's music, and it always seems to exhibit me at my best. What more can an artist ask for?
With Jerry, it's always about the music, never about himself; so the music happens because of him! This is why I so enjoy playing Jerry Ascione's music.
—Marvin Stamm - Spring 2008