Interview with the Kaleidoscope Quartet, winners of the Conad Jazz Contest 2023
We have interviewed for you the Kaleidoscope Quartet, winners of the Conad Jazz Contest. The Kaleidoscope Quartet band consists of Lorenzo Vitolo on piano, 25 years old, Genius Lee Wesley on drums, 20 years old, Joshua Schofield on alto sax, 28 years old and Josef Zeimetz on double bass, 25 years old.
Lorenzo Vitolo, pianist of the quartet, answers.
How do you feel after winning the contest? What are your initial emotions and reactions?
We feel excited to be able to come back and do more concerts in Italy in the coming period. Surprised too, because during those three days, we heard many great bands at the Conad Jazz Contest. Finally, grateful, because the jury appreciated our music and the group and because Conad and Umbria Jazz have given us this opportunity with this contest.
How was your quartet born and what was the inspiration behind your musical project? What are you aiming for?
Josh and I wanted to try our original music with a band in Basel, we found a good feeling with Josef and Genius and that’s how the Kaleidoscope Quartet was born. We want to evolve the sound of the band, especially in terms of groove development decisions and the role of instruments in the music.
Have you had the opportunity to perform in other contexts before participating in this competition? How have these experiences influenced you as musicians?
Before entering the competition, we had already given a few concerts as a group in Switzerland. Before that, Josh and I often played together as sidemen in different projects and especially during the prestigious program Focusyear ’21, directed by Wolfgang Muthspiel. The Kaleidoscope Quartet, therefore, seems to be the natural evolution of our musical relationship.
How would you describe the musical style of your quartet? What are the main influences and what distinctive elements characterize it?
We have a wide range of influences, many of which we share during listening sessions or on records in the Basel Jazzcampus library, where we all studied. We listened to music from Art Tatum and John Coltrane to Thad Jones and Miles Davis. We believe that all this music somehow influences ours.
How was your preparation process for the competition? Did you have the opportunity to rehearse together or did you work individually?
We already had a repertoire from other concerts, added a new Josh song and rehearsed the old material in two rehearsals before the trip.
What do you think impressed the jury during your performances? Was there any particular moment that you felt made a difference?
We believe that the emotion of being on the prestigious Umbria Jazz stage emerged in our performance. I think the jury appreciated the sound of the group as a whole and the compositions themselves, and we are grateful for their appreciation and recognition.
What are your future goals as a quartet? Are you planning to record an album or perform at other major jazz festivals?
We plan to develop the music over the next few concerts and to record an album next year.
You come from different places even though you now live in the same city: how have your different origins influenced your approach to jazz music? How did each of you’s cultural environments contribute to your musical education? What do you have in common and what did each of you bring to the group?
We come from different places and backgrounds, but our passion for this kind of music has brought us together as a group.
We believe that in this age of interconnectedness, we are all influenced not only by the culture of the country we come from but by other cultures as well. This too is a peculiar aspect that we share.
Josef and Genius have studied and played a lot together even outside of this project. They enjoy working on details as a rhythm section and always try to play as a whole. Genius has a particularly in-depth knowledge of 60s jazz and brings it to our music.
Josh and I have played together a lot, so it’s easier for us to connect when he does the solo and I do the backing. Thanks to my classical piano studies, I sometimes find myself spontaneously inserting classical influences into my compositions. Overall, Josh and I bring in the compositions for this project.
Is there a specific experience or performance that you consider a turning point in your musical career?
As a group, playing at Umbria Jazz and spending an extended and continuous period together was a great development opportunity for us. The people and musicians we met in Perugia during those days will allow us to advance our careers as a group and as musicians individually.
What advice would you give to other young musicians who are trying to make their way into the jazz world?
As young musicians, we do not yet feel qualified to answer this question definitively. What we can say, however, is that it’s helpful to surround yourself with the best possible musicians and try to work with them. As well as being open to appreciating as many different music and cultures as possible.
Who are the band members:
Josh Schofield is a British saxophonist currently based in Basel, Switzerland. Named as “one to look out for” in Jazzwise magazine, he recently completed a year as a member of the prestigious Focusyear ensemble at the Jazzcampus Basel. During this period he had the opportunity to perform with musicians such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lionel Loueke, Jeff Ballard, Jorge Rossy, Miguel Zenon, Ingrid Jensen, David Virelles and many others. For several years he has performed with his groups and as a collaborator throughout Europe, in venues such as the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, Kings Place in London, Porgy and Bess in Vienna, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, the Nova Jazz Cava in Terrassa and the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
“He shows a remarkable maturity and an equally important ability to assimilate and rework, which are the axioms of the creative process”
(Jazz Music, 04/22/20)
His musicality has allowed him to collaborate with numerous different ensembles and to obtain recognition in various international competitions: finalist at Parmigiani Solo Piano Competition ’17 (Montreux), 3rd place at UNISA International Piano Competition ’20 (South Africa), Leiden Jazz Award ’19 (Netherlands), 1st Prize, Audience Award and Freedom Award of the CHICCO BETTINARDI competition 2014 (Italy), 1st Prize “Lucerne School of Music – International Jazz Piano Competition 2019 (CH).
In 2021 he participated in the Focusyear project in Basel, which allowed him to perform with great musicians such as Jorge Rossy, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lionel Loueke, Jeff Ballard, Wolfgang Muthspiel or Miguel Zenon and many more. In 2022 he was selected by the artistic jury of the Conad jazz contest as the most promising musician and was awarded participation in the Berklee Summer School at Umbria Jazz Clinics 2023.
His first album as a leader, “Changing Shapes” (Challenge Record Int.), was released in 2020 and was highly appreciated by the press in Italy and abroad.
He currently performs in Europe with his projects and as a sideman.
Since his childhood, Josef Zeimetz has been looking for new means of expression. Growing up in Dresden in a musical family, his musical journey with cello, trombone, double bass and electric bass led him to jazz and many other musical genres.
After completing his BA studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, he continued his studies with Larry Grenadier and Ambrose Akinmusire in Basel.
In addition to performing and writing for his band WUROPE, Josef Zeimetz works continuously with a variety of musicians, including pianists Julia Perminova and Vincent Meissner. With the latter, he recorded the album “Bewegtes Feld” (2021), produced by Michael Wollny for ACT Records.
At 25, Josef can look back on a successful career in the jazz world, having won prizes such as the soloist prize of “Jugend Jazzt”, the first prize of the Middle German Jazz Award (2020), the first prize of the Young Munich Jazz Prize (2021) and the first prize of the UA International Jazz Competition (Aveiro, 2021). Concert tours have taken him all over the European continent, from Portugal to Turkey.
Genius Wesley has been hailed as a prodigy of jazz drums and percussion. By the age of 20, he had already performed with such luminaries as Sean Jones, Buster Williams, Cecile McBee, Azar Lawrence, Bill Bell, Curtis Lundy, The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol, Kalil Wilson, Gerald Clayton and many more. He regularly performs and teaches young musicians with the late Khalil Shaheed’s Oaktown Jazz Workshop and Young Musicians Choral Orchestra. He resides in Basel, Switzerland where he studies with Jeff Ballard at the Jazzcampus on a full scholarship.
In the coming months, we will follow the Kaleidoscope Quartet for you in the various stages of the tour dedicated to the winners of the Conad Jazz Contest and get to know their music better. In order not to miss the updates on the band, we invite you to follow the official social channels of the Contest: