The Mark Arroyo Trio
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The Mark Arroyo Trio

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"| Artist Profile | the Mark Arroyo Trio"

PCLP: Who are your greatest influences in both life and music?
Mark: Wow. Just start with the hard questions first huh? Well, my parents really influence me as far as how I approach things. They both are people who take chances, not really worried about the outcome. There have been many times where I’ve seen things not go their way, but they just bounce back and try again. I try to keep that in mind. Musically, my journey starts at Nirvana. There’s really something powerful about that music. It was so raw and honest, and it’s really stayed with me since I first heard it. From there it goes to equal parts Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wu-Tang Clan, Pat Martino, Grant Green, Russell Malone, and of course my mentor Calvin Keys. I first heard of Calvin when I was looking for a new teacher in the Bay Area and couldn’t believe he was so close. Calvin has played with everyone from Ahmad Jamal and Jimmy Smith, to Ray Charles and Joe Henderson – serious heavyweight musicians. I studied with him for a few years. Calvin is a true master, a living jazz legend. I owe that man a lot.

PCLP: Tell our audience something that they don’t know about you.
Mark: I used to sell home security systems at the Great Mall. I’m serious.

PCLP: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
Mark: Right now? Probably Submotion Orchestra. They’re a band out of the UK that’s absolutely killing it right now. They’ve managed to blend electronic music and live instrumentation into a very contemporary sound – Dubstep, Jazz, and Soul, all at once. Amazing.

PCLP: Describe the feelings and emotions you have when you play music?
Mark: Man… is EVERYTHING an acceptable answer? I still find it amazing that I can even get on a stage and play for people. I remember being a kid and thinking that this was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. To be able to create music, and then get lost in it, is such a wonderful experience. When I’m playing with the trio, and we’re really locked in to each other, listening and reacting to what each other is doing, there’s really nothing else like that. A lot of the time, my eyes just end up closed because I’m just listening to what’s happening, what Sutton (drums) and Fred (bass) are playing. I just have to open my eyes every now and then to make sure my hands are in the right spot.

PCLP: Is there a particular song that takes you back to a memorable moment and what is it?
Mark: There’s a song that I wrote called “Gel” that we’ve been playing. I wrote it as an homage to Pat Metheny. Calvin and I went to see him in Berkeley about 5 years ago, and I wrote the song right when I got home. “Gel” has a similar rhythmic feel to Pat’s song “Bright Size Life.” I did that on purpose to show where it comes from. You know, “know your roots” and all that. I named the song “Gel” because that’s when I felt it all coming together. I was finally getting it.

PCLP: What would you say separates your music from anything else out there today?
Mark: That’s hard to say. We’re a jazz trio, but we’re not playing what textbooks, historians, and the internet would consider jazz. I’m always listening for great melodies that I can use as vehicles for the trio to use. Our songbook right now includes rock, pop, and electronic artists like Nirvana, U2, Adele, James Blake, and Lana Del Rey – in addition to our own original music. So, is it jazz? Well, yes, in spirit. We’re a jazz trio, a rock trio, a dub trio, a jam band…all of this, all at once. I think what separates us is that you really can’t separate us; we’ve got something for everybody. I really saw this when I looked out at the audience at our last show at Pagoda. The crowd was really diverse, yet they were all cheering, smiling, and enjoying what we were doing.

PCLP: What would be your advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Mark: This hasn’t been easy. Playing guitar has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. If you really want to do it, especially at this level, you’ve got to really be honest with yourself. You can’t quit. Ever. After that, all you’ve really got to do is: Listen, Practice, and Network.

As a jazz musician, there’s also a responsibility to keep the traditions of the music and culture alive. There are a lot of jazz musicians out there with stories to share, stories that need to be told and not forgotten. Those stories are just as important as the music.

I was on the phone with my friend, guitarist Russell Malone, last week and he said this to me, “Mean what you play, and play what you mean.” I don’t think it gets any clearer than that.

PCLP: Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. Where can our audience find you and find out about upcoming events?
You can find The Mark Arroyo Trio on facebook at:
Check out our music at:
Follow me on twitter at: - Paperclip Society


"Maybe Someday Soon" - 2012



Guitarist, composer, sideman, bandleader...Mark Arroyo does it all, bringing his unique guitar style to stages and bandstands across the country. From restaurants to nightclubs, to festivals and arenas, Arroyo mixes his love of jazz, funk, rock, hip-hop, and electronica to create a sound that’s both foreign and familiar.

The Mark Arroyo Trio highlights Arroyo’s own compositions alongside re-worked modern rock classics, all while bridging the gap between audiences of modern jazz and the indie underground.