Short Bio

Percussionist, drummer and composer Carlo Costa was born and grew up in Rome, Italy. Since 2005 he has been based in New York City. In the past several years he has been making music which is largely improvised and experimental in nature. Through the use of a variety of unusual techniques and added objects Carlo has meticulously developed a distinctive and wide-ranging sonic palette. His long standing projects are the trios Natura Morta (with Frantz Loriot and Sean Ali), Earth Tongues (with Dan Peck and Joe Moffett) and Moritz/Ali/Costa (with Jonathan Moritz and Sean Ali). Newer projects include a duo with Philippe Lauzier, the European quartet Diaphane (with Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Raphael Loher and Frantz Loriot), a duo with Zosha Warpeha, and Hypersurface (with Drew Wesely and Lester St. Louis). Carlo additionally performs solo concerts and runs a collaborative large ensemble called Living Sound Lab. Over the years Carlo has had the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, Canada, the US and Japan.

Long Bio

Carlo Costa was born in Rome, Italy in 1983. He grew up listening to his father’s jazz record collection and soon discovered American and British rock and pop through his sister and friends. When he was ten he started taking drum set lessons and after a few years of playing rock and roll he migrated slowly towards jazz, eventually studying for several years at the St Louis College of Music in Rome. In 2001 he moved to Boston to study music at Berklee College of Music and in 2005 he moved to New York City to further his jazz studies at City College. He has been living in New York City ever since.

Initially drawn to free jazz and the music of the New York City experimental downtown scene, Carlo soon started exploring forms of improvised music that are increasingly subtle, spacious, quiet and slow-moving. Over the years he developed a variety of unorthodox techniques, and added small objects and implements to his set up in order to widen his instrument’s timbral and textural qualities.

In writing music for his own ensembles and ad-hoc projects Carlo employs a compositional language designed for improvisers which makes use of a mixture of traditional notation, graphic scores, symbols, written directions and cue methods to merge and juxtapose composed elements with improvisation.

His current projects include: a solo percussion project; Natura Morta, an improvising trio of percussion and strings with violist Frantz Loriot and bassist Sean Ali; Earth Tongues, trio of brass and percussion with trumpeter Joe Moffett and tubist Dan Peck; Moritz/Ali/Costa with saxophonist Jonathan Moritz and bassist Sean Ali; a European quartet named Diaphane with pianist Raphael Loher, tubist Carl Ludwig Hübsch and violist Frantz Loriot; a duo with clarinetist Philippe Lauzier; a duo with hardanger fiddle player Zosha Warpeha, the trio Hypersurface with guitarist Drew Wesely and cellist Lester St. Louis, a duo with contrabass clarinetist John McCowen and a duo with percussionist Flin van Hemmen.

In the fall of 2022 Carlo founded Living Sound Lab, a collaborative large ensemble laboratory dedicated to performing music that explore the boundary between composition and improvisation.

As a sideman Carlo currently works or has worked with the following projects: a quartet led by Canadian clarinetist Philippe Lauzier called Splendide Abysse; Laila and Smitty, a New York City-based experimental folk-jazz group led by Kenny Warren; a trio led by butoh dancer Azumi Oe (with Sean Ali); Mujô Quartet led by French clarinetist Jean-Brice Godet (with Michaël Attias and Pascal Niggenkemper on bass); a trio and a large ensemble led by the Belgian electric bassist Raphael Malfliet; a trio led by New York City-based double bassist Brandon Lopez (with Alejandro Florez); SWQ a quintet led by Swiss bassoonist and saxophonist Sandra Weiss Quintet; and several others.

In the past few years Carlo has shared the stage and/or recorded with musicians such as Magda Mayas, Darius Jones, Audrey Chen, Nate Wooley, Susanna Santos Silva, Connie Crothers, Tony Malaby, Toma Gouband, Elisabeth Coudoux, Ben Gerstein, Daniel Carter, etc. He has performed throughout Europe, the US, and Japan with a variety of projects.

In November 2014, Carlo founded the label Neither/Nor Records which is dedicated to experimental and improvised music.

Press Quotes

“Italian-born percussionist Carlo Costa has lived in New York since 2005, where he's enriched a variety of jazz-oriented projects with his turbulent, fascinating sense of propulsion. He's also developed another distinctive aesthetic, which for few years now he's showcased via his own Neither/Nor label, which releases Costa's music and that of his close collaborators: it's a texture-first approach, rooted in a strong improvisational ethos.” (Chicago Reader)

“Costa is something of a percussion visionary with an incredibly melodic ear, who is always is exploring new rhythms, small sounds, and who has as much of a facility for using space as any percussionist in recent memory.” (Jazz Right Now)

“Costa is a musician with a very distinct musical vision, one that creates organic textures that grow almost naturally, quietly and intensely.” (FreeJazz Blog)

“Carlo Costa is an anomaly as a drummer. He specializes in magical, mysterious, raptly quiet improvisations.” (New York Music Daily)