The Carpio Brothers Quintet are one of a number of jazz and big bands under the renowned entertainment collective and music school Carpio Music. Brothers Chris and Bernard Carpio are on piano and saxophone respectively, with Tzu Yu-huang on drums, Jezrael Lucero on bass and Michael Salcedo on vocals. The group has performed at jazz clubs, concert halls and events across Asia, including the Publika Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur and Taste of Hong Kong.
We spoke to Chris, Bernard and Michael about how to put on an excellent musical performance.
Known as one of the first jazz families in Hong Kong, the Carpios founded Carpio Music in 1977, training TVB stars, performing alongside the likes of Anita Mui and Patti Page, and playing high profile events from the handover ceremony in 1997 to the Peninsula’s 70th, 75th and 85th anniversaries. Surrounded by music from the moment they could walk and guided by their father and founder of Carpio Music, Tony Carpio, Chris and Bernard always knew it would play an important role in their lives.
Chris: In order to be creative, you need to be in a good head space. You can’t be improvising, performing and enjoying the music if you’re stressed out.
Bernard: The most important thing is to relax and to not overthink things. I always try to keep my mind as clear as possible when I perform and focus on enjoying the moment.
Bernard: The top thing I keep in mind when playing music is to focus on my ears and every bit of information around me; what the pianist, bassist, drummer, singer and other musicians are saying to me through their playing.
Michael: The challenge of a session musician is facing constructive criticism. Of course, if you want to learn and get better, you’ve got to accept those criticisms and work on your weaknesses. Eventually, with the right attitude, you can overcome them. But insults and constructive criticism are two different things. Not the same at all.
Chris: Know your limits and be professional. Don’t say yes to every gig because it’s a “good opportunity”. Make sure you know what you can and can’t do. You could do lots of great things, but have one disastrous moment and then that will be all everyone can talk about.
Chris: At the end of the day, as musicians our job is to give the audience an experience they won’t forget. Of course, the music must be of a particular quality, but I believe the performance aspect is also extremely important. We live in a generation where attention spans are short and there is so much access to different kinds of content at your fingertips. Audiences are looking for you to engage them. That could be as simple as smiling and interacting with them. Give them respect and they will give it back to you.
Musicians sometimes struggle to find their own identity on stage, but we’ve managed to solve this thanks to the support of our suit sponsor Empire International Tailors, who helped us not only look awesome but create our own image that sets the mood before every show we do.
Chris: When I first started working as a professional musician, there weren’t many young musicians around playing in jam sessions. There also weren’t that many venues. Luckily, with support from places like Peel Fresco and the opening of new venues like 1563 Live House, BB Jazz Lounge and Foxglove, there are more places for artists to perform and express themselves, which has led to more younger musicians entering the scene.
From our Hot Seat series.