Vito Rezza

Instructor/Actor/Adjudicator

  • Instrument

    Drums

  • Education

    Majored in Music and Theatre

Biography Vito Rezza

This week we put the spotlight on professional musician, Vito Rezza, who is also an Instructor at Arcadia Woodbridge.

You can sometimes judge a musician by the company they keep. In the case of Vito Rezza, that’s one highly impressive grouping. Artists who have called upon Rezza’s virtuosic skill as a percussionist include Michael Brecker, Richard Bona, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale, Guthrie Govan, Joey DeFrancesco, and so many other amazing musicians. The diverse nature of this star-studded list speaks volumes about Vito’s mastery of a wide range of musical genres.

The fact that Rezza was featured on the cover of the November 2011 issue of musician’s bible Downbeat further confirms this well-deserved reputation. AllAboutJazz.com senior contributor Raul d’Gama Rose has called Rezza “enormously talented and a virtual legend in the world of percussion. He is much in demand among musicians who value his eclecticism and rhythmic virtuosity as much as they do his harmonic and melodic sensibility.”

There is far more to Vito Rezza than superb stickhandling skills, however. He is also a bandleader and composer with a string of highly-acclaimed albums under his belt. For the past 22 years, Rezza has led Canadian ensemble 5 After 4, and the band has opened for the likes of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Spyro Gyra, Kevin Eubanks, Boss Brass, and Joe Henderson. 5 After 4 released their sixth record and most recent, Fragrance of Change, on the EMG Records label.

The album placed in the Top 50 jazz recordings of the year, and it scored unanimous rave reviews. AllAboutJazz.com termed it “a whirlwind tour of immediate, muscular but listenable contemporary jazz,” while jazmusic.com dubbed it “a ground-breaking, sizzling, vigorous, artistic success. It is conceptually rich, replete with music played by exceptionally talented artists and totally original in its compositions.”

The previous 5 After 4 record, 2004’s Drums Of Avila, earned comparable kudos. The creatively ambitious album featured such musical greats as Michael Brecker, Toots Thielemans, Joey DeFrancesco, Vinnie Colaiuta, Richard Bona, Guido Basso, Peter Cardinali, and Kevin Breit, all working their magic on Rezza’s adventurous and compelling compositions. Vito will soon return to the studio to begin work on a new Five After Four recording.

Producer/bassist/record label head Peter Cardinali has long watched the evolution of  Rezza as a writer, noting that “he just keeps getting better. Vito has an unbelievable sense of harmony and he writes beautiful melodies. He is a very romantic writer, and not many drummers can write that kind of in-depth material.” Cardinali is also a fan of Rezza’s ability as a drummer, enlisting him as a player on two of his internationally-praised One Take series of recordings.

On top of his musical skill sets, Vito Rezza is also an accomplished poet, film and television actor (his credits include the Stone movie series featuring Tom Selleck), and martial arts expert. Vito is nearing completion of a book and DVD on life and his philosophy of living with the drum and will soon begin his North American clinic tour. A deeply thoughtful and spiritual individual, he can indeed be termed a modern-day renaissance man

How did you first hear about Arcadia?

I know about Arcadia because of my father’s relationship with Pat and Maurizio’s Dad.

Do you have a social media/webpage where our readers can go and listen to your music?

I do have a website at: vitorezza.net and facebook page under 5 after 4 as well as my own personal page. I don’t let anyone listen to my music on any site. I think in this musical and business climate we already give up too much for free.

You’ve worked with some legends in the music business. Any stories you can share about working with these legendary musicians?

I have worked with Michael Brecker, Joey DeFrancesco, Richard Bona, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale, and Guthrie Govan, along with so many other great musicians. I would have to write a book including stories about so many of my friends and people I’ve worked with. I would gladly sit down over some food and tell anyone interesting stories.

What advice would you give to young musicians who want to attend/audition at a college/university music program?

From what I can see in regard to the music business currently, I would suggest having another vocation that one loves to do. Nothing ever goes back to the way it was and the technology has without a doubt, hurt us much more than helped us. It’s funny how corporations all over the world spend time and money designing technological equipment that mimicks the sounds of recording from the 70’s. Why bother? That was a golden period for everything involving the creation of Art.

What gig have you done in the past that sticks in your mind as THE best gig you’ve ever done?

The most fun gig for me was working with the legendary Long John Baldry. He was so accepting, kind and encouraging about my playing.

Are you working on anything new? Any plans for travelling, education, album recordings?

I’m careful with plans currently. They are more aspirations and dreams, just because I’m not sure of the state and fluctuation factor in the world today. I would like to record a new Cd which I have already begun doing. I will tour with my group next year at some point and I certainly plan on being a better father, husband, son and friend to my community.

Do you have any songs, performances, or videos of your music anywhere online that you’d recommend?

You can go to youtube and key in Vito Rezza and 5 after 4- fusion. It’s an EPK that will tell you a little more about us.

What can you tell us about your current projects, and are there any upcoming events?

Current projects are my band 5 after 4, who have just released CD number 6 entitled “Fragrance of Change”. We are currently with EMG. This was released on itunes earlier this year.

How has it been balancing your professional music career and teaching?

I don’t really balance anything at this stage of my career. There is lots of time to develop my own things and teach younger people who love music. Ultimately, the youth are the most important aspect of my life now.  I’m sure young musicians could use help.

If you had to recommend to a student a great song by any band, what would it be and why?

Songs in the Key of Life album is one of the great song books as far as I’m concerned. I need not explain why, Stevie’s songs do that by themselves. For me though, it’s about melodies that are strong, harmonies that are touching and deep and most importantly rhythmical content that grooves hard.

What’s it like working as a session musician and what are some of the required skills needed to be a great session player?

Requirements for being a “session player” don’t really exist. There really aren’t those kinds of players anymore. These days most people suffer from narcissism, self-entitlement and mediocrity so every musician thinks she or he is a session player. I guess to answer that through a retro lens it would be things like, great sight reading, great time, great attitude and a willingness to take direction. Check your ego at the door.

What are your views on music education? Do you feel it is an important part of a young musician’s training?

Music education today is about culture and having knowledge so to fill one’s life with beauty and understand on every human level not to mention the ultimate comprehension of Spirit. After all, that is what music does. This answer is yet another book I would have to write.

Any last thoughts, comments, suggestions?

My final comment is to be kind in whatever you are doing and remember that being different, unique and creative used to be the ultimate goal as a musician. So, if you do choose this path then you will need the love, passion and courage to dare to be different. Much Love, Vito.

Thank you, Vito!