Seleccionar página
Tomaž Grom Interview Sound (Dis)obedience Festival

Tomaž Grom Interview Sound (Dis)obedience Festival

Tomaž Grom Interview

Sound (Dis)obedience Festival

19

Julio, 2024

By: Bega Villalobos

Photo: Marcandrea

Tomaž Grom is a Slovenian double bass player and one of the key figures in the remarkable Ljubljana music scene. He is the founder and artistic director of Zavod Sploh (S-P-L-O-H. Sound, Performing, Listening, Observing, Hearing) an associaton dedicated to the production of music and performing arts as well as to education and publishing in the field. He curates music festival Sound (Dis)obedience.

On 28 th March, 2024. Liubliana, Eslovenia. Sound (Dis)obedience Festival.

 

In&OutJazz Thank you for the interview Tomaz. It is a great pleasure to be here in Liubliana. The first question is how was the festival born and what was the concept of the festival?

Tomaž Grom In the second half of the nineties I started to organize concerts on Metelkova with Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec. There was no scene for so-called experimental or better to say improvised music, maybe just some individual musicians existed. When coming back from studies in Austria and playing around Europe there were very few concerts. I was interested in so I started to organize a concert serie Con/fine aperto with two of my friends Luka Zagoričnik and Primož Čučnik. We payed the musicians from our own pockets. I had the money from making music for national theatres.

And then came Špela Trošt, a producer and also my partner.

She applied for funds on the base of the program we already made. She applied through Zavod Sploh (Sound, Performing, Listening, Observing, Hearing) which I established in 1999.

We got some funds and started to do regular concert series and workshops.

With about a decade of regular events I wished for a condensed meeting of international musicians, something like a festival.

In 2011 we got some non-expected money from the Ministry of Culture (they had some rest of the money they offered to us) and that is how Sound (Dis)obedience was born in 2012.

We got funds without asking for funds. This year is the 13th edition.

Every year I say it’s the last one but then it goes on … And the concept is … no concept. The concept is my intuition. I like to invite different generations, different approaches to music making, different genders. Musicians with a lot of experience and musicians with very little experience. I like to mix international musicians with Slovenian musicians. Every year there is also a workshop and Every year I invite different international musicians to run the workshop which is open to everyone. Workshop is very important.

When the festival finishes, I start to think about the next one. I don't sit down and I don't have a concept really. I am a musician myself, so I know a lot of international musicians and music scenes. I just by feeling, slowly, kind of build up a program for the next edition.

In&OutJazz Would you say in first person that the festival selection is between free improvisation and free jazz? What would you say about this?

Tomaž Grom You know, I don't like so much to put this in words, in kind of frames. I like to find people which are kind of somewhere in between genres and which play their own music. I'm very interested also in musicians themselves. Not only in their music. What is their motor? Why do they go from stage to stage?  They spend their lives on a scene with very little money. Some even have no home, the stage is their home. I like to meet these very special people. They inspire me. I like to listen to their music, to reasons and backgrounds for their music.

Improvised and composed music in played on the festival. But the situation is improvised in any case.

Sometimes I invite musicians without really knowing their music. I like surprises for me as well even though it can be risky 🙂

I like musicians which take the acoustic space, the audience, the situation, the moment as part of their instrument.

In&OutJazz How do you select the project? With intuition you say, but what else?

Tomaž Grom It's very difficult to say. More or less, I like to plan different kind of approaches to music making. When I select one, then I search and think about different approach and I select the other one. And then I try to think on, “aha, so I have this and this and what could also be different approach”. And as I said in the beginning, different generations are important. Some people with a lot of experience. For example, yesterday, Jan Roder and Michael Griener, they play for 32 years together. And the day before, trio with Aurelius Užameckis, Luka Zabric and Margaux Oswald, they are very young and they search for their music. All this is important for me to show on the festival. I can't say much more than that…

Tomaž Grom If it's okay, just one more thing I would like to add. This is a small festival and I like to keep it like this.

In&OutJazz Why?

Tomaž Grom Because I like that the audience is close to the musicians, that we are all in the same room. No stage or better to say no barrier between the public and the audience.

In&OutJazz In the same room?

Tomaž Grom Yeah, in the same room and in the same sound for the musicians and the audience. Musicians generally like to be close to the public.

But, all the music does not fit in this context. And, not all the music fits on big stages with big amplification either. And when amplification exceeds certain level, instruments sound very different. They become different instruments. It can be quite difficult and a very non-inspirating situation.

Our venue sounds good with acoustic or slightly amplified music. Matter 100 were too loud for this venue. Their music needs some more power, so, I blame myself for not the best sound in Španski borci (venue) for their music.

I have to say that we at Sploh are very spoiled. Nobody is asking us how many people are coming to our concerts. I can program whatever I want. No need for the “big names”. We treat all the musicians the same. We also pay all the musicians the same. This is a big privilege, a luxury. No financiers are demanding more public. I would like to emphasize that. Some other programmers have to have certain amount of audience coming. They partly depend on ticket sales. And then it becomes very tricky, you can't just do what you want.

In&OutJazz I understand. And how is the evolution of the festival?

Tomaž Grom I can speak more about the public in this sense, not about the music. Music is more or less always there. It is different with the audience. First concert series had very little audience. It was similar with the festival. With regular and constant events audience was slowly growing. As I already said, we don't have tradition in freely improvised music in Slovenia like in London, Berlin, or several Austrian towns with long festival traditions. We do have a Jazz festival with the longest tradition in Europe and we have several festivals like Druga Godba, Sajeta, Jazz Cerkno … We don’t have books or developed language to speak about experimental and freely improvised music. We don’t have a span of different generations of musicians playing on the same stage like for example in England. We have some individuals, for example Zlatko Kaučič, a drummer and educator in his seventies. Here I have to say that Zlatko is an example that proves the fact that a town/a region actually needs just one (the right one) influencer who can build the whole music community.

So, the audience has to grow with the scene. I would say that we have a little pool of audience, slowly growing. Nowadays I see new faces, young faces. Young people coming to our concerts, together with the “regular” public, that is important. Festival Konfrontationen in Nickelsdorf offers reduced ticket price for audience under 30 I believe and festival Sajeta in Tolmin offers free ticket for audience above 55. Getting new public and keeping the “old” is quite a task.

In&OutJazz How do you combine your work as founder and artistic director of Zavod Sploh?

Tomaž Grom I'm a founder and artistic director of Zavod Sploh, but firstly I'm a musician. I try to separate those two tracks but in the same time I know I am sitting in two chairs. I used to program majority of the events in the frame of Sploh. Nowadays we have several different people programing our concert and performance series. For some years I only program Sound (Dis)obedience. And sometimes it's still difficult. I struggle sitting on those two chairs.  I invite musicians, I invite curators, so, I offer work to just a few people … It is a political position. I have to mention that I never program myself on the festival, I never play when I program …

In&OutJazz Okay, okay.  But why? Why?

Tomaž Grom There are at least three reasons. Firstly, it's much more “hygienic” if I don't play because if I play then I pay myself. Secondly, I remember very well one of Ljubljana venues Jazz Club Gajo. It was programed by a drummer, who played majority of the gigs himself. He would invite different musicians to play but he would much too often sit in …

The third reason it the fact that I am a technician on the festival. I communicate and prepare the technical needs and also connect the needed. I welcome the public, I am the sound technician and I also record all the concerts … These   reasons are more than enough to explain why I don’t play on a festival that I curate …

In&OutJazz And what about the name of the festival?

Tomaž Grom Aha, well, this is... Neposlušno in Slovenian means it reminds on the world neposlušljivo which means something that is not possible to listen to. Neposlušno means disobedient. Non listenable and disobedient. I think it suites the music we are promoting. And it creates kind of contra ...

In&OutJazz Contra-culture.

Tomaž Grom I think contra is sometimes good to practice. In some way this music practice can also be disobedient. And it is also relatively often not so easy to listen to it J. It is definitely often not very pleasant.

In&OutJazz It's not easy.

Tomaž Grom You need to involve yourself. You need to...  To put some energy, interest into it and you have to let it come to you.  We don’t always have to strive for easy and pleasant things.

Written by Bega Villalobos

Mayo 19, 2024

William Parker Interview Vision Festival (NYC, 2024)

William Parker Interview Vision Festival (NYC, 2024)

William Parker Interview

Vision Festival (NYC, 2024)

Free Jazz and avant garde pioneer William Parker granted us with an enlightening interview during Vision Festival 2024 at Roulette in Brooklyn, New York where he was honored and was a recipient of the Vision 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

In&OutJazz: What does it mean to you Mr. Parker to have received this award as a leader in the free jazz community?

William Parker:  Well, I’m very happy that it happened because it will give publicity to not just what I do but what everybody in the community does. We’re lacking press here. The New York Times, The Village Voice and a lot of the other newspapers in America New York have stopped writing about us. And, so you need a liaison or a bridge between the music and the people, and that could be publicity…, that could be newspapers. You just want your name to be out there so people are aware of what you do. And the award helps that, and hopefully other people will be able to present their music as a result of me getting the award.

In&OutJazz: How do you feel about being a leader in the free jazz community?

William Parker:  I feel that there are a lot of things to be done and I think you know every musician leads themselves and I do what I do. I think the labels that people put on people are from the outside and you can’t really avoid that but my responsibility as I’m 72 now is to continue to knock down walls, is to continue to present good music, is to continue to open the door and help guide younger musicians so that they can take the place of a lot of musicians who passed away. We lost saxophone player Peter Brötzmann, Kidd Jordan, Charles Gayle in the last years and they can never be replaced but we can try to get musicians to be interested in playing the creative freedom music. Because freedom, free music equals freedom and freedom equals enlightenment and so it continues the idea of a better planet and maybe we can go on for another few years.

In&OutJazz: What does free jazz mean to you? How do you differentiate “free jazz” from “jazz”?

William Parker:  Basically you have the freedom to play what you want to play in a situation. Your goal is to make the music sprout wings and fly and in a free jazz or free music, you’re free to use any element that ever existed, any element that you didn’t know about, that you discover in the moment to enhance the music. And so it’s like you don’t have any rules…, the rules are to be, to play the most creative profound music you can play and the only rule is to succeed.

In&OutJazz: Beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit about playing with Cecil Taylor , Milford Graves , and Don Cherry …?

William Parker:  All those people were great musicians and what they called progenitors or masters of the music. And again, what they did was allow you to be yourself. I played with Cecil for eleven years, and he never told me what to play once. It was setting up a situation and then allowing us to play.

In&OutJazz: Wasn’t that scary at the beginning for you?

William Parker:  No, because I had my training in New York playing with Jemeel Moondoc and Roy Campbell and Billy Bang . And I was really ready for anything when it came to free improvisation.

In&OutJazz: We know that you are one of the best double bassists of all time, and also a prolific artist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer, and also a teacher. What come first for you? Who are you first?

William Parker: What comes first to me is kindness, and giving, and sharing music, and sharing ideas, exchanging gifts with people, helping people to open up their gifts, for them to share them. And whether it’s music, whether it’s dance, whether it’s poetry, whether it’s writing, it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s just talking. You always try to share, get the light turned on, so that we can’t see without light. And once we have light, we can begin to shape our lives in a better way. I mean, it’s almost a hundred degrees today. And we’re still dropping bombs all over the world. And these things, there must be something better for human beings to do than to kill each other. And that’s the message we want to get. It’s we have to stop war, we have to begin to enrich each other’s lives, not try to take each other’s lives. And that’s going to be done if we engulf ourselves in music and art. It changes our lives. It brings peace and harmony in the world.

In&OutJazz: What would you say are one or two of the basic concepts in avant-garde jazz or free jazz?

William Parker: It’s to play like it’s the last time you’re gonna play. Play like every sound you are playing can change the world. You know, and so if you believe that everything you do is important and can change the world, I think that’s more important than what key you’re playing, what rhythm, whatever, you know, what style you’re playing in. It’s how you play and what you do and try to vibrate. Music is water. You want to play and it vibrates and turns to steam when it boils and heats. And that’s when it’s usable. That’s when you open up and go into the tone world. You go into the third world. You go into the world of light and sonic vibration. The world of pure happiness and joy. And that’s the kind of experience you want to make. So how you do it, it doesn’t really make any difference. As long as we do that, because we have to reverse ignorance. We have to reverse hate. We have to reverse this idea of ​​severe, harmful capitalism. And we have to begin to elevate the people from within. They’ve got to elevate themselves so that they can fly. And it’s very important that everyone flies.

Interview by: Claudia Tebar

Julio 18, 2024

Nicholas Payton Interview

Nicholas Payton Interview

Nicholas Payton Interview

02

Julio, 2024

By: Claudia Tebar

Photos: Nicholas Payton

 

 

Not everyone is lucky enough to sit down with someone like Nicholas Payton. In this interview that Nicholas Payton gave us in November 2023, you can see the renowned artist in a personal setting. Mr. Payton, not only talks about music, but also about his philosophy of life, his self-perception, and his opinion on current society.

 

In&OutJazz How do you define yourself? Where does the term “The Zen Gangster” come from and what does it mean to you?

Nicholas Payton I didn’t come up with that, so that’s not a self-definition. Vijay Iyer called me “The Zen Gangster” and I thought it was a bit apropos given my nature. Much like The Savior of Archaic Pop, which a lot of people think I’m calling myself a savior, no, someone else called me that and I adopted it.

In&OutJazz What does it mean to you to be The Savior of Archaic Pop?

Nicholas Payton Well, it’s been one of my monikers for over 10 years. Someone wrote a post about me on a blog site called “The Pop of Yestercentury,” you can look it up. But it was in the wake of the initial post that I made about why jazz isn’t cool anymore; they wrote an article talking about the concepts behind my post and they branded me that. Their theory behind it was that I, in some way, was trying to save pop music by reconnecting it to its roots in Black American music, the genesis of pop music before so-called jazz separated itself from the popular aesthetic. So, again, this was someone else coming up with a name that I adopted, but it wasn’t me calling myself anything.

In&OutJazz Can you tell us about the term #BAM?

Nicholas Payton Okay, well, I don’t like the term “jazz”. I believe it has racist connotations and roots. So, when I wrote the initial post, a lot of people were like, well, if you don’t call it jazz, what would you call it? And I simply said Black American Music. We live in the age of the internet and hashtags, so #BAM is an acronym for Black American Music. I thought it was a cool way to have somewhat of an onomatopoeic destruction of the word “jazz,” so, #BAM is a declaration of strength affirming the idea of Black American Music.

In&OutJazz What has the #BAM concept meant to you on a musical level as a new idea and criticism of what’s established? What have been some of the consequences for you? Not consequences in a bad way, but just in general.

Nicholas Payton I don’t know if there’s been any musical consequences per se. I mean, I’ve had people not want to give me gigs or think I’m angry or racist for saying it, but I mean, I knew before I said it that that was the risk of speaking to this because I’m challenging the status quo. I’m challenging decades long of musical oppression and centuries long of racial oppression. So, I was well aware of what I was doing, and I was willing to accept the consequences for my actions because what I had to say about it is important. And it was also ahead of its time when I started speaking to this. We were in the height of the Obama years, and a lot of people felt maybe that we had crossed over or come past certain racial things. This predated George Floyd, and predated Tamir Rice. It predated Trayvon Martin. It predated Michael Brown and the Black Lives Matter movement. So, in light of all those things, after they happened, over time, the concept of #BAM became more sensible to people. So, I think what happened was perhaps it was before its time, which is strange to me because racial oppression has never gone anywhere. It never dissipated. It just changed forms. But I think to a lot of people, maybe they were under the impression that somehow we had advanced a lot further than we actually had. And I think what I helped uncover is that we are not as advanced as perhaps we thought we were. So…

Then, whereas it seemed like a majority of people did not agree and were against me, fast forward 10 plus years later, I think a majority of people actually understand my point and actually agree. So, it just took time for a lot of people to see, which to me seemed pretty plain and obvious, but it wasn’t, which is why I needed to speak on it the way I did.

In&OutJazz Do you think your critical and controversial nature has interfered or interferes in the present with your work?

Nicholas Payton I don’t view myself as controversial. It’s just that we live in a society in which the things I see and the ways I feel tend to be in opposition of a lot of the ways we’ve been taught to think and feel. But I don’t intentionally set out to be controversial. These are ways in which I quite naturally think and feel.

In&OutJazz Could you name some contemporary musicians or artists with whom you have greater musical and conceptual affinity?

Nicholas Payton Anybody who’s recorded with me, I would say. Bill Stewart, Vicente Archer, the people who have been playing with me for years. Kats in Butcher Brown, Corey Fonville and Devonne Harris and all of those guys. I like Joel Ross.

In&OutJazz Yeah, can you tell us some names with whom you have conceptual affinity? Maybe you haven’t played with them, but you know, they have similar opinions and support the term #BAM.

Nicholas Payton Well, I don’t judge if people support Black American Music or not. People have a right to feel and label their music as they choose. What I do find important is the idea that people self-label and not think they have to succumb to being labeled. So whatever someone wants to call it, whatever they want to do, I’m open with it. For instance, Christian Scott, who I’ve known since he was a teenager in New Orleans, he calls what he does “stretch music” and that’s cool, but he also doesn’t like the term jazz. Different people have different ways of expressing that. I’m all for that, whatever it is. I just don’t like the term jazz. I find it to be particularly degenerating, derogatory to the music.

In&OutJazz Do you prioritize creative freedom above all?

Nicholas Payton I don’t know. I don’t think creative freedom is more important than, say, having clean water and clean air or having a certain moral character in which people treat one another.

There’re certain things in terms of living on this planet in this realm that I find to be more important than music. The creative part is just a means for me to utilize the art to speak to those freedoms that we have as beings on this planet. So the music to me is not even the most important thing. It’s what I create and how I make people feel and changing thought. Most of us as beings in this realm, on this planet, are oppressed in some way. We feel some lack of freedom, not necessarily creatively, but just to be ourselves, to think as we want to think, to live as we want to live. The Earth’s natural resources are something that we are forced to pay for, that are commodified and monetized. I don’t think we should have to pay for water any more than we don’t pay for air. To pay for water is as ridiculous to me. The fact that people don’t have access to clean water is more important than if we call music “jazz” or “Black American music.” So the point of art to me is to speak to those socio-political issues. I try to use music and words as a means to speak to our liberation as beings and people on this planet. That’s the most important thing to me.

In&OutJazz Can you define what creative freedom means to you?

Nicholas Payton Well, I think that’s a bit redundant. I mean, it’s the same thing. You can’t be free without being creative and you can’t be creative without being free. But you also can’t have freedom without tradition and form. So, to me, you have to have an understanding of history and lineages and those who came before you to be truly free. Some people want to be free of rules or free of traditions or free of whatever. And to me, that’s not true freedom. There’s only freedom within the context of confines and rules and form. That’s not to say you need to be oppressed to be free. But, in order to be free, one must have some understanding of what the limitations are. It must be contextualized against something. You can’t be free within free. It has to be contextualized against something else, juxtaposed against something that is perhaps more static or less lucid, if you will.

In&OutJazz How do you feel about having become identified as a guru? Guru of this community, guru of the arts.

Nicholas Payton A guru is what a teacher is, is that what you mean by guru?

In&OutJazz Yes.

Nicholas Payton I mean, yeah, I am a teacher of sorts. I thought it was weird at first, you know, when I first started giving lessons and teaching, because at that time in my, I guess, early, mid 20s, I still very much considered myself a student. And even at 50, I still consider myself a student. But yeah, I think I’ve learned some things along the way. And I think a part of learning things is sharing what you have learned with those who may not have had those experiences, as my elders did for me. So that’s why lineage and tradition is important because it’s important that we share what we find along our journey as a means of helping the music and this artistic community grow. That’s a part of the tradition to me. So, yeah, if some people see me as a guru of sorts, I guess I get that. It’s certainly nothing I necessarily set out to do. But at the same time, it’s something that I proudly step into, a position and a mantle and a responsibility that I accept because there are certain artists or gurus of mine, which many people perhaps don’t have access to because they’re not around in the physical realm anymore. And it’s incumbent upon me to be a link to those people for younger generations through my experiences with them. And not only that, but the things that I’ve learned or the concepts that I’ve been able to develop in my experiences and making mistakes and doing things perhaps the wrong way or not the most efficient way. I’ve learned maybe easier ways to do things, and if something that I’ve learned can help someone younger than me save some time of going through the headaches and the challenges that I’ve been through, then I have no problem sharing that to make their journeys easier with hopes that they can learn something from this information and maybe improve upon it and teach that to someone coming after them. That is the main part of what it is that we do here. The work that I do here is that we share what we’ve learned and hopefully make the journey easier for other people that we share this planet with. To me, I value that above music itself or creative freedom. This is to help one another, make this journey easier.

In&OutJazz Could you name a couple of teachings or experiences that you’ve had in the past that have changed your life or the vision you had about something? Anecdotes with other artists when you were younger or even in the present?

Nicholas Payton Sure. We could be here all day doing that. I am getting ready to release my first book, Notes from the Zen Gangster, which should come out some time in the next couple of weeks. And that’s full of anecdotes and stories and things that I’ve learned along the way.

In&OutJazz Wow, okay. We will pay attention to that.

Nicholas Payton Please, thank you.

In&OutJazz How would you define your musical evolution?

Nicholas Payton I don’t know if I would. The only thing that’s really mattered to me is that I’ve evolved.

For me, there is no need to have to define it. It’s been my musical journey. And when I look at it, I can say that I’m proud of my growth, that I have grown. I feel blessed and honored to still be here and to still be creating new things and discovering new things. I feel honored at the great musicians I’ve been blessed to work with and learn from and share with. But I don’t know if I would define it. I don’t know if I can because it’s not over yet. I don’t know if I can while I’m still doing it.

In&OutJazz Could you tell us what period or vital moment are you in now, musically speaking?

Nicholas Payton Is that the same answer? I don’t know. I’m creating it right now, so it’s hard for me to say what it is while I’m creating it. Once I do the album, that album has a name and that’s usually the end of whatever that is. Once we go on the road and play the music, the music often evolves and that becomes something else. So that album, those recordings are a snapshot in time and can’t be recreated, not even by myself. I can’t recreate those moments. So I don’t really seek to define things or categorize things in that way, which is kind of why I opt for, if this could even be considered a categorization, Black American music because it’s open-ended. I don’t like genre classifications. I don’t like those types of definitions. They’re stifling to me. They stunt growth.

In&OutJazz Tell us about celebrating your 50th birthday with the publication of a new album came about.

Nicholas Payton It was a last minute idea, kind of like everything else I do. When I recorded it, I had no idea when it would come out. I just knew I wanted to get an album out some time this year. Initially, it was supposed to come out on September 9 and the person I had helping me upload it to the portal made a mistake in leaving out some of the guest appearances, so I picked another date. The next closest date that made sense to me was September 26, which was my 50th birthday, but there was no initial plan to release a 50th birthday album. I live my life as a free-flowing, creative form of exploration, moment to moment. I don’t tend to plan these things well in advance.

In&OutJazz How was your experience with Verve Records and why did you decide to create your own record label?

Nicholas Payton I enjoyed my time at Verve. It was a long time ago. I mean, the last album I made for them was in 2000, 2001. It was over 20 years ago. I’ve since been at Warner Brothers. I did two albums for them. I did an album for Concord. I started my own label because I grew over having to adhere to someone else’s schedule, which was based on other artists and other releases. I wanted to be able to record and release as many albums as I wanted to without having to get approval and consent from anyone else in terms of how I did that. Even though when I was at Verve, I was very good at developing a sales pitch to get people on board to support what it is I was doing. But I don’t have to create sales pitches anymore. Just like I told you, I decide “Hey, I want to release it on the 9th. Okay, that’s not going to work. I want to release it on the 26th.” I don’t have to pass this decision through someone else. I don’t have to wait months for someone’s release schedule and a publicist and this and that. So many of the inner workings that happen at labels, you have to wait six months for a setup to release an album. I can record an album today, mix it and master it tomorrow, and release it on the third day for the world to hear.

That’s why I started my own label, to be able to do it the way I want to do it, when I want to do it.

In&OutJazz What’s your experience and opinion with the big festivals, clubs, and events? Do they put limitations on you when they are hire you? Do you think they leave artists complete freedom or not?

Nicholas Payton I don’t know. Every festival, every venue is different. Some venues want to know who’s playing with you, they want to know the concept of the gig. Some venues don’t care and they’re perfectly fine with whomever you bring and whatever you do. Everybody’s different. Ultimately, nobody can make you do something you don’t want to do, so I think every artist has the choice to do what it is they want. Now, you also might have to pay the consequences for that. You have to pay the consequences for your choices or your actions to comply with what you’re being asked to do, or not comply with what you’re being asked to do. At the end of the day, you have to live with your decisions and that’s how I’ve always guided my career. None of these people at a record label or at a venue have to live with your performance. You do, so you have to be happy with it. So yeah, there are no rules as far as how everyone runs their business. Everyone’s different. Some venues, some festivals have a heavier hand and want to have more input than others. So unless we go down the list name by name, festival by festival, we can’t categorize them all as one way or another.

In&OutJazz Let’s generalize, do you think it’s more one way or another? There’s no predominant way?

Nicholas Payton I’m not overly concerned with freedom because no one else controls that. I think to be obsessed with freedom is more problematic than the reality of living your life. It all comes down to how free you’re willing to be responsible for, because with freedom comes responsibility. How many people really want to be free? That’s more the question. It’s not a question of can you be free? I don’t think a lot of people want the responsibility that comes with freedom. That’s the issue.

In&OutJazz Can you tell us what projects do you have active right now?

Nicholas Payton A lot. I have a new album I just started recording with Sasha Masakowski That’s going to be the musical companion to the book, Notes from the Zen Gangster and it’ll be my first duo album. It’s also going to be my first drumless album as a leader. And the music is very meditative. The book is coming out of the intense lessons and questions that I’ve had along my journey of studying Zen maybe some 20 years ago. I’m also working on a new project with Otis McDonald. I’ve been working at his studio for the last year or so. Somewhat of an R&B album with me singing through a vocoder. I also have some special guest vocalists that are probably going to be on it as well. But much of it is me singing in the vocoder, which is not something that I’ve done in the past. So that’s a new form of expression for me. When this album is released, it’ll be the third in a trilogy of love-themed, R&B albums. Bitches would be the first, Maestro Rhythm King the second. And this next one that I still haven’t decided the title yet will be the third in that series so far. I have another album that I’ve been working on with Marcus Gilmore that we started at the top of the pandemic. It’s a tribute to the photographic works of Kwame Brathwaite, who was very instrumental in spearheading the Black is Beautiful movement in the ‘60s. We chose photographic works from his archives and composed original songs that sound like the photographs. That’s another project. Then there’s New World Order, which is a trio I have with Sasha Masakowski and Cliff Hines. This is the group that made the Quarantined with Nick album that I did at the top of 2020. On New World Order, we also have some special guests. Christian Sands guested on a song. Joshua Redman guested on a song. Also Butcher Brown guested on a song. So that will come out maybe some time next year. I also have an album, Light Beings that I recorded in 2019 that I was going to release in 2020, but when the pandemic happened I decided to sit on it. I want to get this album out soon. It’s basically a suite of music dedicated to the electromagnetic spectrum. Seven movements, each song is dedicated to a different wave of light. The song Visible Light, which is on my latest album, DRIP, is actually from that Light Beings project. So yeah. And I have maybe 3, 4, 5 other albums that are almost done, that are unreleased, that I want to get out at some point. A lot of things.

In&OutJazz Impressive! Can you tell us about the creative process? What inspires you to start a new project?

Nicholas Payton I always feel it. I never turn that faucet off. It stays running, so I don’t look at creativity as something you turn on and off. I keep that tap running and that way I don’t have to think about it. This is why I have more albums than I know what to do with. I’m always recording. I’m always inspired. Life inspires me. That’s what inspires me. Not music. Life inspires me. As I live my life, my life has certain sounds to it. So I write music based on my feelings, or people I meet, or loves that I have or that I’ve lost. All of these experiences go into creating music. And I write all the time. I don’t give myself a schedule to have to write. I don’t need permission to write. Whenever I hear a melody or a rhythm or a set of chords, I record it and I put it down and I develop these ideas. That is my life’s work. That’s what I do. I’m always writing. Whenever I have a thought or an idea, I write it down. And I compile these things. And over a course of 15 years, then you have a book. Over a course of several months or weeks or days, you have an album. So I just keep making things.

In&OutJazz Could you tell us one thing you would like to do and you haven’t done yet?

Nicholas Payton I don’t know. I guess I won’t know that until I do it. The only thing that stops me from doing certain things is maybe having the money to do it. But I’ve done everything that I want to do, really. I’ve played with most of the people that I’ve wanted to play with. I’ve done most of the things that I want to do. I don’t look for permission. That’s the big thing. I think so many musicians, they look for somebody to give them permission to do something. The artist, to me, does not wait. That’s the difference between an artist and a musician. The artist just does it. They don’t wait for permission. So I consider myself more of an artist. I do the things that I want to do. I seek the opportunities that I want to have and I take the risks necessary to bring those opportunities to light and to create those things. And once you get working on them, then you bring a lot of energy to you. So I don’t sit around and wait for people to give me permission to do what it is that I have the power to do myself.

 

Interview by: Claudia Tebar

Julio 02, 2024

Javier Moreno Interview

Javier Moreno Interview

Javier Moreno Interview

22

Junio, 2024

Ha sido un placer entrevistar al contrabajista y compositor español Javier Moreno, en relación al nuevo álbum publicado por el sello Fresh Sound Records, Quinteto Capital (2024, Fresh Sound Records).  Javier Moreno (bajo), Jorge Vistel (trompeta), Victor Correa (trombón), Román Filiú (saxo alto), Borja Barrueta (batería), grabado en Camaleón Estudios, Madrid, 13 de octubre de 2022.

 

In&OutJazz Hola Javier. Muchas gracias por la entrevista para In&OutJazz. Empezamos sin más preámbulos. ¿Cómo ha surgido el proyecto de Quinteto Capital?

Javier Moreno En primer lugar, Begoña, saludarte y darte las gracias por incluirme en tu espacio.  Quinteto Capital, es una reflexión musical sobre el arraigo, y hace referencia a mi vuelta a Madrid después de casi veinte años. La idea del proyecto surgió cuando gané el premio de la residencia de composición de Conde Duque de Madrid en plena pandemia. A partir de esta oportunidad, y aprovechando también la disponibilidad de los músicos en ese momento, comencé a idear por donde quería ir y comencé a componer un repertorio para el concierto final de fin de residencia.  Por suerte, en ese momento, todos teníamos tiempo para ensayar y para estudiar, ya que la música requiere bastante trabajo por su complejidad.

In&OutJazz ¿Puedes presentar el quinteto? ¿Qué aporta cada uno a la propuesta? ¿Cómo es la narrativa de diálogo que se establece en el quinteto?

Javier Moreno La formación inicial del grupo, somos Victor Correa al trombón, Román Filiu al saxo alto, Jorge Vistel a la trompeta, Borja Barrueta a la batería, y yo al contrabajo.

Con respecto a la narrativa de diálogo que mencionas en lo compositivo, es interesante la pregunta, porque es un disco que en realidad son como siete estudios de contrapunto distintos. El contrapunto es diálogo. Es una herramienta que estudia de alguna manera como se establecen conversaciones entre varias voces y como resulta su relación final en el conjunto.

Atiende más al movimiento horizontal que a la armonía en lo vertical, y es por ello elegí cuatro voces melódicas para el ensamble, y ningún instrumento armónico como el piano o la guitarra, pero sobre todo, este diálogo, en intención compositiva, está siempre presente en todo el disco de dos maneras diferentes: la primera se presenta en la búsqueda de un equilibrio con respecto a las diversas conversaciones que se dan entre secciones:-  las voces melódicas muchas veces funcionan como engranajes baterísticos que acompañan melodías principales que se encuentran en el bajo y el trombón y viceversa,-  y a segunda se presenta en la búsqueda de equilibrio con respecto a la experimentación entre extremos: desde la “no funcionalidad armónica” en las diversas zonas disonantes (en ocasiones cercanas al dodecafonismo)  a las melodías más cantables y épicas, y desde la densidad más intensa al silencio y a la sutileza.

Con respecto al diálogo y la interacción entre los músicos, cabe mencionar, que son intérpretes con los que existe un contacto artístico intermitente desde hace bastante tiempo. A Borja y a Víctor los conozco hace casi veinte años (actualmente, yo también soy contrabajista de uno de los proyectos de Victor Correa), a Román Filiu y a Jorge Vistel los conozco desde hace menos, pero Román ha tocado ya varios repertorios con mi música, tanto en Nueva York, (cuando ambos vivíamos allá), como aquí en Madrid, asimismo yo, de manera puntual, también he tocado alguna vez su música.

Por último, para terminar esta cuestión y respondiendo a lo que aporta cada uno de los integrantes de forma individual, añadir que se podría decir que Borja Barrueta podría aportar la tierra y el rock, Jorge Vistel la exploración del “Edge” (o el límite) en las improvisaciones, Román y Víctor la cohesión de la melodía y el ensamblaje, y yo el bajo y la hoja de ruta.

In&OutJazz Es el cuarto disco con el sello discográfico Fresh Sound Records, ¿cómo se trabaja con Fresh Sound Records?

Javier Moreno Siempre he tenido muy buena experiencia con la discográfica, y para mí es muy gratificante, que sigan existiendo medios para producir discos físicos en los que un sello se implica. En este caso, a diferencia de otras producciones, el proceso a seguir con el proyecto, fue mostrarle la grabación del directo del concierto de fin de residencia de Conde Duque en 2020 a Jordi Pujol (director de Fresh Sound New Talent Records) para que escuchara el material, y tras la escucha accedió a realizar la producción. Después, todo el proceso fue bastante rápido, además Jordi también, en la medida de lo que puede, ayuda también para prensa, para algún contacto en festivales, clubes, etc.  Mi experiencia ha sido y es muy positiva, eso sí, después de cuatro discos y doce años de relación con el sello, no sé cuánto de New Talent hay ya en mi historia.

In&OutJazz Jajaja ¿Dirías en primera persona que Quinteto Capital forma parte de una evolución respecto a los discos publicados anteriormente en otras etapas del ciclo vital (cuando vivías en NYC, etc.)?

Javier Moreno Se podría decir, en general, que sí, que forma parte de una evolución en el sentido de que cuando tuve todas las composiciones acabadas, sentí un alivio creativo grande al darme cuenta de que me había sorprendido a mí mismo notablemente, ya que conseguí orientar el proceso creativo hacia zonas que no había transitado antes, siguiendo, también de alguna manera, el hilo conductor procedente de mis otros discos. Después de procesos de creación intensos como este, siempre te queda un poco la duda de haber terminado un statement que valga la pena. En este caso acabo todo de la mejor manera posible, aunque siempre hay cosas que mejorar… Pienso que, como compositor y artista, siempre tenemos que tener una responsabilidad con la sorpresa y con el cambio sobre nosotros mismos.

Quinteto capital, en ocasiones, puede sonar más mainstream que mis otros álbumes, y, por otro lado, sonar también mucho más experimental. La verdad es que estoy muy contento con el resultado, porque al fin y al cabo buscaba (como comenté en la cuestión anterior) un equilibrio entre fuerzas y entre extremos.

In&OutJazz In Sides (2019, Fresh Sound Records) es también un álbum increíble, ¿cómo ha sido la evolución desde In Sides hasta Quinteto Capital?

Javier Moreno Gracias Begoña, me alegro de que hayas escuchado más material mío, y que te guste también.  In Sides, se grabó una semana antes de mudarme a España de vuelta desde Nueva York. Es una despedida, hay bastante nostalgia (como denotan los títulos de Sights from a Lost Winter o No One for the Rhine), es un despegue hacia algo diferente, es el inicio de un viaje, en cambio. En esta línea, es interesante mencionar, que Quinteto Capital es un aterrizaje, tiene más folclore, más tierra y más rock también. De alguna manera, siento que hay más certeza en lo que se presenta, aunque también hay misterio e incertidumbre en temas como retorno. En cualquiera de los casos, cuando compongo trato de no pensar en nada, ni siquiera en un resultado estético, trato de ser fiel un proceso compositivo X y confiar en que saldrá un resultado que merezca la pena. Por decirlo de alguna manera, cuando compongo muchas veces, me entrego al caos y confió en salir airoso del viaje impregnado de todo lo que esté viviendo o experimentando en ese momento musical y vitalmente hablando.

In&OutJazz ¿Cómo describirías el aporte de Michael Attias en In Sides, respecto al enfoque de Román Filiu en Quinteto Capital?

Javier Moreno Son personalidades totalmente diferentes en dos proyectos que también tienen dos puntos de fuga hacia lugares con diferente dirección. Michael es un improvisador nato de vanguardia, y en In Sides, aporta mucho edge en varios temas, además tiene una familiaridad (con la que siento mucha cercanía) muy natural con todo lo étnico – modal dentro del free.  Con respecto a Filiu, la aproximación es diferente: es un altero impecable, con recursos para improvisar en cualquier situación, y que además que ofrece un centro inmejorable en sección. Me interesa mucho la relación que tiene con Vistel desde hace años, y sabía que iban a hacer un ensamble muy sólido con Víctor. Por eso les junté.

In&OutJazz ¿Cómo defines tú mismo la forma de componer y las composiciones en Quinteto Capital? ¿Antes eres compositor o músico – intérprete? ¿Cómo describirías en primera persona tu concepto musical y la forma de escribir?

Javier Moreno Estas son preguntas también muy interesantes de responder, y son temas que comento bastante con mis alumnos de composición. Lo cierto es que, efectivamente, soy intérprete y contrabajista primero e intento aproximarme a la composición desde el punto de vista de un compositor que no tiene nada que perder porque ya tiene una personalidad artística de intérprete y de contrabajista definida. Este es un juego que uso a menudo para liberarme de los prejuicios que solemos tener tipo debo de sonar a esto, o debo de sonar a lo otro.

Dicho esto, y aunque suene un poco psicópata, muchas veces, me acerco a la composición como si yo mismo, fuera otra persona que no tiene ni miedo, ni juicio artístico ante lo que vaya a salir, y después, cuando tengo el resultado sobre la mesa y me convencen plenamente mis melodías y mis composiciones, intento absorber la sonoridad de lo que he creado en vista de mejorar también como contrabajista, fabricando mis propios estudios de contrabajo  con mis propias melodías y mi propio material para mejorar y complementar mi calidad y mi identidad como interprete. Diríamos que puede en ocasiones sigo proceso un inverso de alguna manera.

Leer al maestro Ran Blake me está ayudando mucho en este camino de retroalimentación artística. Es como establecer un baile: dos yoes diferentes con el intérprete y el compositor. Es algo bastante nuevo para mí, y que me inspira mucho.

In&OutJazz ¿Cómo ves la proyección nacional e internacional de Quinteto Capital?

Javier Moreno Sobre ambas proyecciones espero que sean extensas, fructíferas y duraderas. De momento hemos tocado en el Festival de Jazz de Alpedrete en febrero, y también en Jazz a Head de Bremen en abril. Vamos a ver que sale de todo esto, pero a veces mover el quinteto, sobre todo fuera de nuestras fronteras, puede ser complicado, es por ello, que el proyecto, tiene también el potencial de ser en trío. Por eso, también trato de ofrecer la opción de contratar el mismo repertorio y el mismo proyecto en formato reducido: Trío Capital. Mil gracias por la entrevista Begoña, y gracias por el apoyo, de corazón.

Interview by: Begoña Villalobos

Junio 22, 2024

Nduduzo Makhathini Interview

Nduduzo Makhathini Interview

Nduduzo Makhathini Interview

21

Junio, 2024

Texto: Begoña Villalobos

Fotos: Concesión del entrevistado

 

 

It has been an honor to interview Nduduzo Makhathini, South African pianist, composer, healer and philosopher. He has announced the June 7 release of his third Blue Note album, uNomkhubulwane. The transcendent three-movement suite, which pays homage to the Zulu goddess uNomkhubulwane and explores Africa’s tragic history of oppression, features Makhathini’s trio with bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere y and drummer Francisco Mela.

 

In&OutJazz Hello, nice to meet you.

Nduduzo Makhathini Great to meet you, too. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.

In&OutJazz Thank you. Thank you for being with us. It’s a true honor. It’s a true honor for us to have you here with us.  It would be really awesome to have you here in Spain because it’s been… Man, like, first of all, congratulations for your work and for you, for your albums. We’re willing to have a little talk now with you about it. So, we could start, right? Okay, let’s go.  So, first question would be…Since you’re a Blue Note artist member, which is great that they are supporting you and your work, how has recording for Blue Note been? And what has it meant to you? Like, what does it mean for you to be a Blue Note artist member?

Nduduzo Makhathini Well, you know, I think it means a lot of things at different registers. On the one hand, I am quite aware of the lineage of innovators in this art form that have recorded for Blue Note. So, I think it means a lot for my work to kind of, you know, fall into the later articulations of what the future of this sound might look like and how perhaps future generations of jazz musicians will consider how jazz can be annunciated from various geographies, such as South Africa. On the other hand, there is this kind of question about, like, you know, the quote-unquote invisibility of jazz practices in South Africa that starts at least in the late 1920s. Already in South Africa, there were jazz recordings. And also, South Africa, unlike many other locations outside of the U.S., has a really strong culture of jazz that follows the different kind of periods, you know, whether it was big band style, swing, you know, we have bebop, we have post-bop, we have modern jazz…

In&OutJazz You guys got all the tradition going, too.

Nduduzo Makhathini We’ve got all of those traditions, and not only that, but these traditions, they are recorded, and they are available. But so there’s a sense in which the invisibility of the jazz aesthetic in South Africa is troubling. So, and for me, so when I got signed to Blue Note, one of the things that I intended was to expose these cracks, to expose the fact that even though it’s exciting to be the first Blue Note artist to be signed from South Africa, but it’s also an opportunity to speak about, where I come from, in terms of the lineage. So I’ve used of my interviews that were meant to be talking about celebrating the fact that I’m the first Blue Note artist from South Africa, I use that time to educate about what, who I follow in the footsteps of.

In&OutJazz Yeah, definitely. That’s so great, so great, that you are kind of speaking out for your tradition. That’s good.

Nduduzo Makhathini Exactly. So this has led to a response from Blue Note, which is the creation of Blue Note Africa, which is a specific response to the gap that I’ve exposed.

In&OutJazz Great news. Yeah. Thanks to you, man.

Nduduzo Makhathini Yeah. Well, that’s, yeah.

In&OutJazz It is, it is definitely great. It is, it is, that you, that you can, give a hug to all the tradition that went on. And it’s, and keep, keeps going on in South Africa, right. And, and that Blue Note has listened to you and has, you know, has agreed with you to, to speak out for all this tradition together. That’s so great. And we are all celebrating it.

Nduduzo Makhathini It is beautiful. And I must just say like, you know, the leadership at Blue Note is really special as well in a sense that Don Was, who’s the president, is quite an open-minded person and such a lovely person. And I think it helps that he’s a musician himself. And so he, was it earlier this year or last year, but I invited him to come to South Africa. And so we did a little tour here where I was showing him the different annunciations of this music, like how it sounds in Cape Town, for instance, informed by Kuma and how it sounds in Devon, informed maybe by Maskanda music and, you know, the different Kwella styles and how it sounds in Joburg, informed by Marabi styles and the different… all of these dialectics, it’s not just the same everywhere in South Africa, but each geography has found a way of articulating its own cultural and folkness into the practice. And Don Was really loved it. And we’ve since become really good friends and he produced my last album as a result of this amazing friendship and a sense of trust and this brotherhood that we share.

In&OutJazz Man, how great, how great. We are happy to listen to you and these words that you are sharing. Now to move on, we would like to know, since the album was recorded in August, right? How did it go and what’s the name of the album and when will it be out? You know, like tell us.

Nduduzo Makhathini Man, I must just say, you know, speaking about this idea of community and brotherhood, the project is a result of just like how we’re thinking about Africa and the diasporas and jazz practices. So here we have someone from Cuba and then we have someone from the US, and we have someone in South Africa. So this kind of triad of like looking at like how we can kind of remap a different story around jazz that maybe changes the narrative of aggression and violence and people being taken to the Caribbean or to the US as slaves. But what does it mean to have a different story of transatlantic connections? What does it mean to think of the transatlantic as a space of healing as opposed to the waters that were used as transportation into slavery? So, what does it mean to have an opportunity to rearticulate the Atlantic for black music? So, this is one thing that became quite evident and how collective memory was really a focus point where I’m playing something and Francisco Mela is like, “you know, in Cuba, we call that this” and I’m playing something and Zwelakhe is like, “you know, in the US, this is what we call this”. You know what I mean? So it was really a work of memory. And the title of the album is called Unomkhubulwane, “who is the rain goddess” in the South African context. I’m going to type it here later just so you get the spelling for the title of the album. And the rain goddess is really a symbol of abundance. There’s a sense in which when people think about Africa as a continent or its legacies, black traditions, they always refer to it in this position of lack, you know, poverty. And all of those things. But on the reverse, Africa is really this space of abundance. So, we’re thinking about the rain as a symbol of abundance. We’re thinking about harvest as a symbol of abundance, but also as a counter narrative to how the world has portrayed the African soil. So, we’re thinking about these symbolisms and how we bring them into the space of music making as a way of restoring pre-colonial memory and how those kind of symbolisms, would inform the ways in which we create music. And of course, the rain goddess is also a symbol for the maternal side of things that all the troubles that are going on in the world is because we’ve gone out of tune. We’ve gone outside of the womb. So, what does it mean for the womb to be the ways in which we inform through water, a way of purity? And so in a way, what is going on in the world now requires for all humans to imagine again, this abundance, this water, this maternal energy that gave back to us all. And in remembering that, there is a hope that we’ll kind of be in tune again and respect environment, respect people around us and have a kind of strong sense of compassion, and love and understanding of space sharing around the world.

In&OutJazz How truly beautiful, really, all the concepts and all the, you know, faith around the album. This is what, in my opinion, makes music such sacred thing, you know, dialogues with everyone and everybody all around the world because of all of these intentions. If it wouldn’t be. If it weren’t for the intentions and, you know, the message that you want to give, it would, yeah, music wouldn’t be the same, right? And on the other hand, music is such a great instrument and, you know, a medium to put on a dialogue with all the world, you know, which is so powerful. I’m so great that all those things that you were talking about our, you know, surrounding all the, all the, all the music that you do and all your, you know, this, this last album that you, that you did.

Nduduzo Makhathini Man, I think you are, you are stealing my words. Because that is so accurate. And these three words that you are mentioning are very important for my work. You started by speaking about sacredness. Then. Then you spoke up our intention and then you spoke about dialogue, dialogics or dialoguing. These are the most important pillars for my work in the fact that like, I speak of it in the context of rituals. And rituals are seeking the sacredness. And, and, and that informs an intention that of course gets injected into the sound. I’m thinking in two ways about this. Either the intention is injected in the sound or the sound is a result of an intention.

In&OutJazz Nice.

Nduduzo Makhathini So the sense in which, when we conceptualize it’s again, this kind of conceiving an idea and the sacredness surrounding the water, the, the concept of a womb really, for me, liberates a lot of what I’m thinking in this work. So, so then the music becomes a result of that intention and the path becomes annunciation of something that has a pre-existent essence. Yeah. And, and then of course, when it lands and it’s, it’s shared with people, then the intention then is to dialogue that music are not conclusions in themselves, but some of them are critical questions that require audience to respond.

In&OutJazz There you go.

Nduduzo Makhathini Some of them are suggestions about where humanity can go. The sound become a place where we project how we want the world to look like and trio as a symbol as well is very strong in, uh, African, uh, mythologies and, and, and philosophies when we look at like the child, you know, we have a concept that we call the triadic nature of being, which is a way in which we think of ourselves as being here, in the past and in the future, all at once. The ancestry practice as like continuities of the past, but also the future as in anticipating the ones that are to be born and clearing our intentions so that when these next generation is born, the world is a better place. So all of the things that you are invoking are so fundamental and they hold a very important part of my work.

In&OutJazz Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s so beautiful to hear. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s so beautiful to hear you speak about all these things.

Nduduzo Makhathini Well, it’s great to have a conversation with you.

In&OutJazz Yeah, definitely. We were also, um, uh, thinking that the, the trio that, uh, is involved in your, in your album is a great trio. Um, could you tell us more about the band and the band members, Francisco Mela and Zwelakhe Duma? And, you know, have you had a nice musical and personal connection with them? How has it been? How is your relationship with those guys?

Nduduzo Makhathini I don’t know who these guys are. Well, I, I absolutely love these guys. There is just like, a dedication that is so fundamental for us all. And the trio requires that as well. Like, you know, in a trio setting, we don’t really have a passenger. Everyone has to kind of like drive the ship, you know? And, also it helps that I have personal connections. Zwelakhe is someone that I’ve mentored for many years. I met him when he was really little. And, and there’s a symbolism in there because he was brought to me by his father. And his father kind of put a responsibility on my shoulder. Look after this child. He’s, he’s amazing. Look. You know, so, it’s like it’s so deep because for me it also speaks to the ways in which like we conceptualize family and mostly from like histories of black people where the father is often an absent figure and there is a way in which coloniality of course created that problem whereby the fathers had to work in the mines because the migrant labors the mothers were left alone and that created a serious dysfunction in the black home. And so, for me there is a deep symbolism there is a deep symbolism surrounding this group of men that really think about family as an integral part of music creation. And of course, Franciso Mela is a father, he’s a teacher and someone who has worked with great such as McCoy Tyner, Joe Lovano, William Parker and a lot of other people. So it’s very balanced in this way where Zwelakhe is like pushing things into like some kind of futuristic direction and Mela is really grounded in some kind of traditions whether from Cuba or from the jazz as it was for the masters and innovators of this music and I am bringing something really ancient that comes from Africa from pre-colonial memory and while I’m situated within the jazz sensibility as someone as well who comes from great teachers here in South Africa such as Zim Ngqawana, Busi Mhlongo, Bheki Mseleku…etc. So, there is a number of things that we’re bringing to the table that kind of makes a very important dialogue about where we see the future of this music go. Especially how the future of this music would eventually have a kind of holistic outlook that doesn’t only focus on the U.S. but honors the contributions of U.S. musicians, but also that tends to be holistic in the way that it’s listening to an entire universal discourse around this music.

In&OutJazz Yeah. It’s really beautiful to see how each one of you brings like things into the dialogue that takes place between you guys that brings up music that is always new, that has always something to say to all of us also listeners who become an important part of your music, in a way where we also entered that dialogue in the precise moment where we are listening to what you guys did. So it’s so great that you guys are together making music. it’s beautiful.

Nduduzo Makhathini Man thank you so much. It really, it means a lot for us and it’s good that you mentioned the listener because it’s a big part of what we’re doing. It’s uh you know. I’ve been thinking a lot about where do sounds go? It’s a broader question. Where do sounds go? When the sound is annunciated, where does, because I believe that a sound is life and it’s got an afterlife, and it continues to echo in people’s consciousness. So, for me, the audience is not an audience in a conventional sense of people watching, but is a collaborator in terms of thinking about the futures of each and every note.

In&OutJazz Yeah. That’s so cool. And you guys also take part in an educational relationship between we all, where we all want to build up a better world after all. So that’s cool. We were also about or wondering what your compositional approach was for Trio. Because Francisco Mela was saying that your music is always, “well concentrated and free”. So, what are your thoughts on that?

Nduduzo Makhathini Yeah. So, you know, I’ve been thinking about music making processes in the way that I was brought up, you know. So there is a fundamental idea of improvisation that jazz has kind of cultivated that. That means departing from the thematic materials. In a sense that you play the song and at a particular bar, the form is finished and then you have to start soloing. So while for me in the traditional context and in the folk context, improvisation is a prophetic place that takes place when we surrender into the compositional material. So in other words, improvisation in my kind of thinking becomes a process of the unfolding that is not worried about improvisation, but is so committed to the thematic material that in the interpretation of the thematic material, the improvisation is not an effort, but a thing that we reach through the intensity of the music. A different concept, you know, it’s a, it’s not so much a jazz concept, in as much as it’s based on a ritual theory in Africa, and how music underpins ritual proceedings. So what I have done is I’ve wrote very short compositions that I call in my work, energy fields. So energy fields are musical ideas, that are very short, that are always geared towards producing freedoms. And so it moves from the known to the unknown, to the new knowing. So these three phases are very important for me. The known being this submission to wanting to surrender, to wanting to let go. So I bring this composition as a, invitation to, to fly it with the band. We, you know, so everyone has to check in. Everyone has to study that little piece as a way of, you know, accessing your boarding pass. And once we are all in there, then we take off. Then a different concept of grace allows us into this unknown place. And when we return, we have a different understanding of the theme that we played in the beginning. So that’s what I call, I call the new knowing of what, what we knew at the beginning of the song. So that is really a concept that I’m developing with the band, but also a big part of my scholarly research projects as well, that are based on the understandings of ritual as a way to harness improvisation in jazz.

In&OutJazz That’s, that’s so cool. It makes your music so powerful and deep. In fact, last question, because we’ve read in some interviews that people describe your music like a deep and profound music and you as a like a thinker and maker of a deep music. And, and we also, we’re reading a lot of, opinions about your music, as a music where freedom and improvisation take place in a deep way. You know they don’t really know how to describe it. They always talk about deep, you know, some, something really deep, no, right. So we would like to, yeah, considering all these concepts that you were talking about right now, would you tell us that there has been an evolution between your other albums and this last album, or are they separate things?

Nduduzo Makhathini Yeah. Well, firstly, I don’t know what they’re talking about, everyone that is saying things hahahaha.

In&OutJazz Oh, great.

Nduduzo Makhathini Well, it’s true. Part of the idea about folk music in Africa is that it’s a nomadic music. So, it’s, it’s a music that annunciates from a place and it gets on an itinerary and through walking, whether in the wilderness or to the next village, the music becomes a way of gathering stories as you walk. So, in other words, this idea of being in motion is a way to understand the depth of the music. So, in other words, it’s not stationary. And so, it produces theories and concepts that are in motion. And that’s where the difficulty of describing then comes. Yeah. So, what really, what I’ve become aware of is this music falls in a realm that I call fugitive aesthetic. Fugitive in a sense that everything you say about it is already too old to describe it. So, from the moment you say it’s already, yeah, it’s, it’s so in this fugitiveness, the music itself refuse for us to say anything about it. So, it’s just to put us in this realm of the unspeakable. And I think this is where the music is really annunciating. It’s, it brings us to this moment of the unspeakable that there is nothing profound to say about it because it’s refusing everything. So, I put most of my energy in cultivating a way of tapping into this unspeakable. So, I’m not concerned about producing vocabulary in as much as I’m concerned about how this music puts us into no words. So, if it’s really, it brings us to no words. So, and of course, each project that I’ve done is different. And I think this one focuses on the concept of the womb, the concept of purity, the concept of abundance, whereas the previous one was focusing on ontology, the concept of being, the concept of the universe and how beings have a relationship with the universe. So, each project for me is a chapter within a book that is difficult to write.

In&OutJazz Wow, man… Nduduzo, our friend, our big friend.

Nduduzo Makhathini Yes!!!

In&OutJazz This has been, this has been such a nice talk with you. It’s been a pleasure to hear you and to hear about how you feel and how you think about music. And you were saying now the unspeakable, that’s the most interesting thing. That’s where music, becomes something really high, you know, where we, we should stop talking about it and start just, you know, really enjoying it.

Nduduzo Makhathini Experiencing it.

In&OutJazz Yeah, there you go. There you go. Which is, which is something really powerful. I think that the, the musical experience. So yeah…

Nduduzo Makhathini You guys must still write about it hahaha.

In&OutJazz Yeah, there you go. There you go. We are, we are so, so happy to have had you and, and last but not least we would,

In&OutJazz Thank you very much.  Yeah, we would love, we would love, we would love to get some, we would love to get some pictures of you so that we can later on, when we write an article about you or whatever or post anything, it would be nice to have some pictures of yourself. To try announce everyone here in Spain about your work and your art and your music, man. So, if you can send them to the email address where we have been talking through, it would be a real gift for us.

Nduduzo Makhathini Man, it’s an absolute honor. I’m going to send the images.

In&OutJazz Thank you. Big hugs and big kisses from Spain. Yes. Peace man. God bless you.

Nduduzo Makhathini The Americans say a big hug to see you soon.

In&OutJazz See you soon. Yeah. Bye man. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Interview by: Begoña Villalobos

Junio 21, 2024

Matylda Gerber

Matylda Gerber

Matylda Gerber

Saxofonista, compositora, miembro de los grupos Ślina y sneaky jesus. Coorganizadora de la Orquesta Improvisada de Wrocław. Ganador de premios de la revista Jazz Forum y de la Asociación de Jazz Melomani. Científico y profesional especializado en la intuición y su papel en la toma de decisiones.

Cuando se teclea el nombre de Matilda Gerber en un motor de búsqueda, sorprende la diversidad de los resultados. La sorpresa será aún mayor cuando resulte que todos ellos se refieren a la misma persona. 

Empezaremos, pues, a presentar a nuestra heroína con cuestiones no musicales. Matylda Gerber se licenció en Finanzas y Psicología y se doctoró en Ciencias Sociales en la Escuela de Economía de Varsovia, una de las universidades más prestigiosas de Polonia. Su campo de interés es la intuición y su papel en la toma de decisiones. Se trata de un tema de investigación científica poco obvio, pero que se utiliza en muchos campos en todo el mundo. A lo largo de su carrera, Matilda Gerber ha participado, entre otras cosas, en investigaciones sobre el trabajo de analistas criminológicos de departamentos de policía, médicos, empresarios e inversores bursátiles. Un resumen de sus actividades en este campo hasta la fecha es el libro «Intuición. Guía para los que aman reflexionar’.

Y llegados a este punto podríamos preguntarnos ¿por qué si no la música, para alguien que tiene tanto éxito en otro campo? «Nunca fui a la escuela de música, pero recibí clases de piano desde niño. Incluso tomé clases de composición. El saxofón, en cambio, no llegó hasta los 18 años«. Sin embargo, a pesar de involucrarse en conjuntos con el tiempo, la música permaneció en un segundo plano durante mucho tiempo. El gran avance se produjo durante una estancia académica en Londres, que, en el plano artístico, supuso la exploración de la rica escena musical londinense, la participación en jam sessions y un contacto y colaboración escénica con Sarathy Korwar.  «En un momento dado me di cuenta de que estaba recibiendo tantos comentarios positivos sobre mi forma de tocar que no podía superarlo. Tras volver a Polonia, decidí que quería desarrollar esto, fui más consciente de este hambre musical que había en mí«. Un estímulo importante llegó cuando la invitaron a actuar en el concierto inaugural del festival Jazztopad de Wrocław.

En la actualidad, su principal actividad musical se desarrolla en dos bandas: Ślina (eng: Saliva) y sneaky jesus.  El cuarteto de improvisación Ślina, además de su propia actividad, también graba y actúa con Mikołaj Trzaska, una figura icónica de la escena polaca y europea de improvisación. Toda la historia de esta colaboración comenzó con la búsqueda de Matylda para comprar un saxofón barítono. Uno usado, como tal tiene mejor sonido. 

No es tarea fácil, y suele haber cola de gente dispuesta a comprarlo. La venta del instrumento de Mikołaj Trzaska en 2018 no fue diferente, pero una conversación personal y una especie de «audición» hicieron que el barítono fuera a parar a Matilda. «Anteriormente había probado otros saxofones , pero no me gustaba su sonido. Aquí sentí inmediatamente que era lo que buscaba. Y disfruto de su sonido todo el tiempo«.  Trzaska tenía curiosidad por ver cómo resultaría el instrumento. Le gustó tanto la música de Ślina que propuso ayudar al grupo a sacar un álbum. Pronto surgió la posibilidad de conciertos conjuntos y una propuesta de grabaciones conjuntas. En 2024, podemos esperar al menos un lanzamiento bajo el nombre de Ślina Trzaska, ya que varias horas de material ya grabado están a la espera de ser reveladas.

Habla Mikołaj Trzaska:  Cuando conocí a Matilda, me sorprendió que cogiera el instrumento e inmediatamente empezara a tocarlo muy alto, con un sonido abierto y fuerte. Tenemos algo en común: en el sentido de que Matylda -como yo- empezó a tocar el saxofón a una edad bastante madura y empezó a explorarlo con una mente ya adulta. Y estoy encantado con su evolución, con su forma de tocar, cada vez más interesante y cada vez mejor. Por supuesto, sigue buscando su lenguaje, desarrollándolo todo el tiempo.  Pero es consciente de cómo funciona.  

Es capaz de descubrir cosas nuevas durante el concierto, durante el proceso creativo. No le asusta el saxofón.  Toca tanto el tenor como el alto y el barítono.  Sabe de qué habla a través de la música y por qué lo cuenta de esta manera concreta. Y en su caso, uno siente que está contando una historia sobre sí misma a través de la música.  Sabe tocar, pero también escuchar lo que sucede a su alrededor en el escenario. Utiliza sus modos de expresión de forma diferente en cada banda.

Tiene el don de encontrar melodías sencillas y sobreconstruirlas. Pero, por otro lado, también tiene paciencia, la capacidad de quedarse con ese primer sonido que aparece. En ella encontramos tanto depredación como ternura, que aparecen cada vez más hondo. Y su fuerza es la sinceridad de este mensaje.

Ślina pone sus miras en la improvisación. Pero Matilda también necesitaba otros retos. De ahí la unión de jesús furtivo.  Dividir la actividad en dos bandas es una decisión consciente y meditada. «Siempre pensé que sería guay trabajar con una banda en la que pudiera componer. Tocamos juntos en jam sessions y resultó que nos entendíamos muy bien«.  Así que las actividades de los dos grupos se complementan a la perfección. «Las dos bandas son complementarias para mí«

Sneaky jesus cuenta ya con dos álbumes en su discografía, ambos publicados en el sello londinense Shapes of Rhythm. La banda sorprende y deleita por la ligereza y libertad con que se mueve entre convenciones y estilos. Es música que respira frescura. La diversidad de la narrativa musical es cautivadora, la fluidez de la transición de la delicadeza al frenesí, de la melodía a los ritmos pesados y ruidosos.

Reseña completa del álbum ‘For Chaching Taphed’

jesús furtivo en las redes sociales

sneaky jesus en Bandcamp

Las actividades musicales de Matylda Gerber se complementan con la Orquesta Improvisada de Wrocław, una plataforma que reúne a artistas de diversos géneros musicales interesados en la música improvisada.  La orquesta se reúne regularmente para ensayar y organiza conciertos cíclicos en los que los grupos actúan en formaciones organizadas al azar. La orquesta también ofrece conciertos bajo su propio nombre con una formación completa de una docena de músicos. Durante el festival Jazztopad de 2023, Matylda también dirigió una banda juvenil de jazz, preparando su actuación. Otra experiencia importante de la artista fue su participación en dos sesiones de la Plataforma Internacional de Jazz – talleres en Łódź y Oslo. 

Todo ello ha sido reconocido por la comunidad jazzística con dos importantes y prestigiosos galardones concedidos a Matylda Gerber en 2023. En la encuesta de la crítica realizada por la revista Jazz Forum, ganó en la categoría Rising Star, y fue galardonada con el mismo título en la Gala de la Asociación Jazz Melomani.

Este artículo se publica simultáneamente en las siguientes revistas europeas, en el marco de » Giant Steps «, una operación para destacar a las jóvenes músicas de jazz y blues : Citizen Jazz (Fr), JazzMania (Be), Jazz’halo (Be), LondonJazz News (UK), Jazz-Fun (DE), Giornale della musica (IT), In&Out Jazz (ES) y Donos Kulturalny (PL).

This article is co-published simultaneously in the following European magazines, as part of « Giant Steps » an operation to highlight young jazz and blues female musicians : Citizen Jazz (Fr), JazzMania (Be), Jazz’halo (Be), LondonJazz News (UK), Jazz-Fun (DE), Giornale della musica (IT), In&Out Jazz (ES) and Donos Kulturalny (PL). #Womentothefore #IWD2024

Interview by: Donos kulturalny

Marzo 06, 2024

Pin It on Pinterest