TOFM: Fabrizio, you were born in Italy (Abano Terme, near Padua), but moved to New York as a teenager. How did that happen?
Fabrizio Sotti: ‘I started playing classical piano with my grandmother when I was five years old. A few years later I started to play guitar. Around the same time, I discovered Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and fell in love. New York is the only place on Earth where, on any night, you can see five or six major jazz shows. My goal as a kid was always to establish myself here. I wanted to learn at the real school of music.’
TOFM: When did you begin to establish your own guitar style?
FS: ‘To find your own voice is difficult. I think with my most recent album, Forty – I called it that because I turned 40 last year – I played with total freedom, just playing with my heart. It’s a new chapter in my life as an artist.’
TOFM: Has your work as a producer influenced your playing?
FS: ‘I’ve always kept these two careers, of producing things like hip hop and R&B and then the songwriting. My model was Miles Davis, because he proved that you can switch genres, but still keep your sensibility, your ability to improvise, your signature. Producing in different environments helped me become a better jazz musician.’
TOFM: You launched Forty at Ferrari New York on Park avenue. Why?
FS: ‘Like every good Italian, Ferrari is in my DNA. When I visited Maranello, it felt like part of my Italian heritage. I could recognise a Ferrari before I learned to read and write. There’s no other company in the world like it. It’s a way of life, but also a way of thinking – about aesthetics, innovation and passion.’
TOFM: You’ve got quite a collection: a 308, Daytona, 488 GTB…
FS: ‘When I started to enjoy some success, one of the first things I did was buy a used F355. That was the start of my real, tangible relationship with Ferrari. They have all this incredible engineering and innovation, but with any Ferrari there’s a certain fascination, a feeling… I’ve owned pretty much every new model that came out since then. The only other jazz musician I know with a Ferrari is Herbie Hancock, but Herbie’s not a good driver! If you see a Ferrari parked in front of a New York jazz club, you know it’s me playing in there.’
TOFM: Does your music production work, the love of detail, of elements coming together, perhaps find an echo in the production of a Ferrari?
FS: ‘The details are incredible, especially with this new phase of Ferraris. Being able to customise your car is incredible. With Tailor Made, you can make your dream car, without compromise. I just took delivery of a 488 GTB. We didn’t get into the Tailor Made thing, because the options that were available matched what I wanted, the black and red interior, the little Italian flag on the back, it was all already there. But I’m planning to get a Tailor Made car very soon…’