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Fabrizio Sotti, born in Padova, Italy in 1975, he was taking classical piano lessons by age five and switched to guitar at nine when his guiding musical lights switched from Bach and Chopin to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery and Jimi Hendrix. He originally moved to the U.S. shortly after releasing his debut album Looking For in his mid-teens, then came back to New York permanently to launch his jazz career after a brief stint in the mid-90s in the Italian Air Force. [br] [br] Since the late 90s, Sotti’s career has forged a fascinating dichotomy between working with some of today’s top jazz musicians and writing and producing for superstar hip-hop and pop artists. On the jazz side, he continued his solo recording career with Standards and More and performed on and produced two albums for Grammy winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Glamoured (2003) and Closer To You: The Pop Side (2009). He has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe and worked over the years with an impressive group of A-listers: Al Foster, Roy Hargrove, George Coleman, George Garzone, Steve La Spina, Sammy Figueroa, Mick Goodrick, Mark Egan, Mino Cinelu, Victor Jones, Rachel Z, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Cameron Brown, Andy LaVerne, Harvie Swartz, Brian Lynch, Mick Goodrick, Lincoln Goines, Rick Margitza, Clarence Penn and many more.     [br] [br] Expanding his musical palette into the lucrative and creatively fulfilling realm of hip-hop and R&B, Sotti has played with written and produced tracks for everyone from Dead Prez, Q- Tip, Tupac (a posthumous piece called “If I Fail”), Ghostface Killah, Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston, Killah Priest, Styles P, Hell Razah, Foxy Brown, Half Pint and The DEY. In 2006, he produced the album Confidential for an artist named M1 and released it on his own label Sotti Records to great commercial success.     [br] [br] “I agree with Duke Ellington in his assessment that there are only two kinds of music, good and bad, and I choose not to discriminate by genre,” says Sotti. “I am truly a jazz musician by training and nature but I think what sets me apart from the typical jazz guy is that I also love writing and producing in other realms and do both in a professional way, giving my all and being true to both myself and the artists I work with. I had always been interested in the sound of hip hop and the way the artists and producers use so many different layers of sounds. Compared to pop and rock, producing hip-hop is much more creative and, as with jazz, I love having the freedom to choose different instruments and combine them in clever, exciting ways. Both styles even give me the space to choose awkward instrumentation if that’s what I feel it will take to make the track sound great.”     [br] [br] The word “freedom” comes up often when Sotti is discussing his unique and eclectic career and the joyful feeling he has about returning to the jazz world-with a 2009 European tour and the recording of Inner Dance-after a several year layoff. “The thing I love about my life now is really being free to dive into so many different projects and feel like I’m part of them in an authentic way,” he says. I bring great passion and knowledge to my hip-hop work, but it’s cool the way my jazz roots always come out. For someone like me who is a composer, guitarist and producer, it’s nice to have the freedom to explore and live different lifestyles. The legend who set the trend in mixing styles like this is Miles Davis, who loved playing with pop artists in addition to the greatest jazz musicians in the world. He was way ahead of his time. In my own small way, I am simply trying to continue what he started. My roots are jazz but it’s always nice to be open minded and embrace new opportunities as they arise.”