Composer Ron Di Salvio, Michigan (USA)

Ron Di Salvio

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946, Ron Di Salvio began his musical journey at age eleven studying accordion with Alexander Matos. At age sixteen, after hearing Dave Brubeck play live at Carnegie Hall, Ron discovered his passion for jazz piano. He studied improvisation with the legendary Lennie Trista. A self-taught composer, Ron formed a trio and played jazz clubs in New York’s Greenwich Village in the late sixties. During this period, he performed with Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Enrico Rava, Renee McClean, Roland Kirk and Art Farmer. In 1970 Ron married and moved to the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he started a family and the Wintergreen Natural Foods business. In 1981 Ron moved to Homer, Michigan, and began employment with Trojan Heat Treat Company. Starting as a furnace operator, Ron grew the company’s sales and employees and in 1986 became President and remains in that position currently.

When I was first asked to write a Variation for the Diabelli Squared Project, I had not played Anton Diabelli’s quirky Theme. In addition I had not played through Beethoven’s monumental 33 Variations of this theme (op 120, 1823) that immortalized Diabelli’s place in history! On my first read through of his theme I must admit I was not impressed nor inspired. However, as I analyzed the A/B 32 measure form, I found a wealth of embedded material for my variation. I was taken with his sequence of secondary dominants:   V/IV, V/V, and V/VI, and was especially surprised by his jazzy use of the 1 -3 -5 -6 & b7 outlining the C7 with a surprise resolution to the tonic “C” chord.

I began by reinstating Diabelli’s opening motive coupled with his underlying brief bass motive. I voiced the redundant melody with quartal parallel voicings. When the dominant entered I used its tritone root substitute Db, giving a pertinent nod to his quirky tune. From that point the variation was off and running, pencil to paper, improvisation giving birth to composition.

– Ron Di Salvio

Ron serves on the faculty of Hillsdale and Kalamazoo Colleges, teaching jazz piano, improvisation, theory and composition. He is a member of ASCAP, IJAE and the American Composers Forum. Active in the ‘Arts’ in his community he serves on the Homer Arts Advisory Council, and directs the Homer Community Choir. A recent project, A Tribute to “Kind of Blue,” Essence of Green, was featured at the 2006 Irving Gilmore International Keyboard Festivals Noon Series Concerts. The performance included the legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, the last remaining member of the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” ensemble, along with his group Jazz X. (Ten)

Ron is currently working on “Black and White”, For Ten Jazz Legends. This work contains original Lyrics and pays tribute to Ron’s inspirations. It includes Jimmy Cobb and Jazz X on the recording. He is also author of “Deltadiatonics”, The Marriage of Major and Minor, the Synthesis of Classical and Jazz Harmony.

Ron has recorded two solo piano Compact Discs, Allegro, a series improvisation on folk songs and compositions by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, and Appassionato, an Italian suite, written and recorded between 2002 and 2004.

Ron’s Variation, entitled ‘After Diabelli’ is a wonderful variation process. In this work, Ron writes his own set of miniature variations, which incorporate jazz harmonies, virtuosic elements, and an abridged nod to several generic styles.