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Pete Fucinaro: The Migration to KC Continues with the New Omaha Import on Saxophone

The introduction of new jazz saxophonist Pete Fucianaro into the fertile Kansas City jazz scene was truly a baptized by fire scenario. This Omaha, Nebraska-native arrived in the city of fountains in June of 2020 full of hope and ambition, as the world was still trying to figure out where live entertainment fit, in the CDC guidebook.

"My fiancé and I have been close to Kansas City. It's a town we have always loved. It really has the best of both worlds for what we wanted to do," Pete explained. "There is such a great music scene. People here are happening, that is why we decided to come here." Pete and Miranda Swift are still engaged, and the couple is enjoying life in KC.

It was way back when Pete was eight that his brother inspired him to explore playing music. That motivation led to a host of great mentors in his life.

"I started on the guitar and then moved to the saxophone in the school band. I had a mentor in my band program who was a great musician in Omaha," said Pete. "Along with my mentors, I always had great support from my parents. They consistently pushed me to be the best I could be."

These days he is in a deep Joe Henderson listening groove, but early on he had a legendary Omaha native named Luke Polipnick that gave him one guitar lesson and a sheet of paper filled up with list musicians he simply needed to listen to.

"Luke got me hip to stuff like Lenny Tristano and Mark Turner. That changed the way I started hearing music," Pete said. "At that age, music was a bit over my head, but I kept listening to that real cerebral, harmonic and rhythmic music and it crept its way into my playing."

It was that love of recorded music that led him to go to a slew of shows with his parents at an Omaha club called The Ozone.

"That was my real introduction to live jazz music," he noted. "They played some Thad Jones charts and the band director was a crooner so they would do Frank Sinatra at the Sands era songs, as well."

He would move on to the University of North Texas and his real grooming happened as a part of the school’s famous One O’clock Big Band. That experience would reverberate throughout his music lifeline and shape who he is today.

"There is so much music. Being prepared for that band for show after show, meant you had to be well organized," Pete explained. “I really had to work on my reading, organization, being professional and reliable.”

As the spring emerges and the world begins to wake up, he is hopeful that regular gigs will resume, and he can fully immerse himself in a very rich KC jazz scene.

"I think the lifestyle of a musician rocks. It's such a social thing, so this pandemic was very hard," said Pete. “Being around great people playing good music is my favorite thing about being a musician. I absolutely love it."

As he gets back to the live stage more, he realizes something very key about the pandemic. It's simply about not getting in your head.

"I used to get done playing and say, ‘I sounded really bad’. I realized that this music is not about me. The music is about the music. It's about the social artform.," Pete explained. "The second you are in your head, you are doomed. In reality, most people on the bandstand and in the crowd are having fun."

His mission, is to have a great time and continue to explore an artform that is endless. Pete is mindful of a history and tradition in Kansas City that will keep him enthralled forever. Yet, his true goal as a musician & person remains rather simple.

"I'm just trying to be a better person every day. Trying to be more kind and loving to those around me," Pete said. “I don't know if I want people to think of me as a saxophone player. I want to be a better person every day. Hopefully, I will be thought of that way."

by Joe Dimino

The Full Pete Fucinaro Interview:

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