Hello out there in the Modern Drummer universe! My name is Robert Castelli, and I’ve recently released a new CD, Robert Castelli/Boom Quartet, which is my first as a leader. I’ve been a fan of the mag since I was a kid (which seems like yesterday), and I’ve been playing drums since I was eight years old. My father, Tom Castelli, was a pro in NY between the ’40s and the ’80s. His brother Jimmy was also a pro for a while, and my grandfather and another uncle also played.
In addition to learning the basics from my father, I’ve had the good fortune to study with some of the best drummers in the world. The two that I studied with the longest and who affected my playing and approach the most were Ed Soph and Kim Plainfield. They’re great drummers, great human beings, and amazing teachers. I’ve also studied over the years with Gary Chester (a boyhood friend of my dad), Robbie Gonzalez, Tony “Thunder” Smith, Robbie Ameen, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, and Joe Ascione. Every one of those guys blessed me for life, and I try to live up to those blessings every day.
My first time on stage was when I was eight, playing for a visiting African diplomat at the AFM Hall in Mount Kisco, New York. My dad was a lifetime member of AFM 802 (NYC) and 82 (Westchester County). I played claves. After that, I played in rock bands in high school. I even did a few gigs with one of my substitute teachers! I then got into Weather Report and fusion, and then worked backwards to bebop. Of course, living in New York, I was exposed to Latin, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban music. I kicked around NY playing everything I could get. All the usual–weddings/club dates, small clubs, musical theater, and later small stadiums and small tours on the East Coast and in Europe. I’ve been fortunate to have my music written about in several publications in the States and in Europe. I’ve since relocated to Vienna, Austria, and I’m married and have a daughter.
This new CD has nine tunes, five of which were written by me. It was recorded with Austrian musicians, although since being here I’ve played in an all-Brazilian band (repertoire and musicians), an all-Turkish band, an all-African band, and an all-Balkan band. Of course, I’ve had many wonderful playing experiences with “mixed” bands, but the truly authentic ethnic stuff was quite an education. I’m still digesting it all.
The band will continue to play in Austria and Germany in the fall, and I hope in London, Belgium, and NY next year. I’m working hard trying to finalize these gigs and STILL GET PAID! I’ve had some bad but not horrible experiences with club owners and promoters, as I’m sure many of you have.
You can find out more at www.myspace.com/robertcastelli. The CD has gotten positive reviews from journalists and magazines in Canada, the US, Belgium, and Austria, and Jazzwise London has a blurb in the August issue, out next week. I honestly don’t know what they wrote, so please send me positive vibes! If you’re interested, the CD and downloads are available at www.abstractlogix.com.
Bless you all, and thanks, Modern Drummer. Keep up the good work.
All the best,