Dominic Fallacaro lives in jazz world, not constricted by it

Pianist enjoys freedom to play in a variety of genres

Thursday, January 14, 2010
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Niskayuna native Dominic Fallacaro will play a concert celebrating his CD release Saturday night at Proctors.
Niskayuna native Dominic Fallacaro will play a concert celebrating his CD release Saturday night at Proctors.

Pianist Dominic Fallacaro loves jazz music, but what he really loves is just music in general.

“I love to play music — sometimes that means playing keys and organs in a rock group, and sometimes I support a singer playing standards,” Fallacaro said from his home in Brooklyn. “I just enjoy being able to play. The styles range drastically from night to night, and I prefer it that way.”

The 23-year-old Niskayuna native has always had a voracious appetite for music of every genre, from ’70s progressive rock to classical (which he studied exclusively for 10 years). One of his favorite artists, Herbie Hancock, illustrates this point.

“He’s someone that lives in the jazz world, but he’s not constricted by genre — he just does the kind of music he wants to do,” Fallacaro said. “Sometimes that means playing jazz, and sometimes that doesn’t mean playing jazz. . . . I love the freedom he has in his career, the ability he has to do anything.”

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For Gazette music writer Michael Hochanadel's review of this show, click here.

His diverse musical taste is perhaps most apparent on his original material, which falls within the instrumental jazz realm while incorporating pop, R&B and rock elements. Fallacaro’s debut solo album, the eight-song, all-original “Collected,” will be officially released this Saturday, when the pianist performs a CD release show at the GE Theatre in Proctors — his first in the Capital Region in about two years. Each ticket to the performance comes with a free copy of the CD.

Impressed with venue

“It’s the perfect place to do it,” Fallacaro said. “I got to see the GE Theatre; it looks beautiful — gorgeous and new. I knew it was a match when I saw the venue.”

Dominic Fallacaro CD release show

Where: GE Theatre at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

How Much: $16.50; $13.50 (students)

More Info: 346-6204,

Fallacaro will be appearing with his longtime quintet, which also features on the new record — Stu Bidwell on drums, Mike McGarril on saxophone, Travis Reuter on guitar and Rick Rosato on bass. The material was written over the past two years in close communication with the band, and was recorded during an intensive, two-day session in Brooklyn.

“We really set up shop in this beautiful space in Brooklyn, and everything kind of gelled together,” Fallacaro said. “The space was gorgeous; the piano on the album is a gorgeous Bosendorpher concert grand piano. Everyone was super comfortable, and we were really able to get down to business. We got to take so many takes of everything and got to really enjoy playing, and that produced the product that I really wanted — I can hear on it that we were all in a very positive vibe with each other.”

Appropriate title

The album’s title comes from its final track, which was also the final song to be completed composition-wise, but it also reflects an underlying theme running throughout the songs.

“It’s definitely a collection of my musical experiences and my life experiences to date,” Fallacaro said. “Musically, everything kind of fits together. That track [‘Collected’] as well, on its own, is a collection of different styles and different things that all come together, and I thought that was a fitting theme for the album.”

The relatively long gestation period for these compositions allowed Fallacaro to eventually tailor the parts to the musicians playing them. As the material evolved, the band members’ strengths in each song became more apparent.

“The earlier material was more loose, and the band really allowed it to take shape,” Fallacaro said. “They were the ones that made the song what it is. Over time, working with the same quintet and the same instruments, I’ve been able to write less for the instruments and more for the people. The songs are more organic that way, like, ‘I know my guitarist would be amazing doing this.’ I realize who would get to showcase their strong points, and it’s a lot more fulfilling from a compositional standpoint to write for people.”

‘Seeing the music’

For the past two years, Fallacaro has lived in Brooklyn, but has been in New York City for more than five years, having studied music at The New School. He first picked up the piano in kindergarten, and ended up playing French horn in high school. Today, he’s a multi-instrumentalist, with knowledge of guitar, bass and drums, but piano is still his favorite.

“With the piano, specifically, you’re visually sitting in front of an orchestra — everything is in front of you,” Fallacaro said. “That allows you to kind of see the music in a lot of different ways that other instruments don’t have as much — you can see the lines and the chord changes take place. Plus the sound — it’s beautiful to have the whole range and play these gigantic chords, and there’s the music box stuff at the top. It’s a flexible, breathing instrument. And also the fact that every piano has its own kind of life — one piano is very different from another piano. When I play a gig at a new spot, I’m always trying to figure out the sound of that instrument.”

During his formative years, he headlined such venues as Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs and the Van Dyck in Schenectady. Like most jazz players, he began with the standards. His classical piano teacher, Beth Leroy, was instrumental in introducing the young Fallacaro to the jazz realm.

“She was someone who wanted to open up my language, my musical language, so she introduced me to jazz music,” he said. “It only took a little bit. She was able to show me all these records, all these sounds. It was a joint process of getting into the music, and using what that language is on the piano to get into it. It was a different way to approach the piano that was fascinating.”

Reflecting on region

His experiences on the Capital Region music scene were invaluable as his own career playing original music began to take shape.

“I think being upstate, it was great — there was a lot of people doing a lot of different kinds of music, and I just wanted to play,” Fallacaro said. “It was great to play in a rock band one day, and then gig the next night with a jazz group. It made me realize that if I take this really seriously. It’s really something that I can do.”

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