Interview with Bill Sharpe: I think sometime the intellect can get in the way: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz keyboardist Bill Sharpe /Shakatak/. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.com: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?

Bill Sharpe: – With true improvisation I guess the fun is you don’t know where you’re going. There are restrictions harmonically with most songs unless of course it’s free jazz which is another ball game.

JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?

BSH: – A lot of young guys I’ve bumped into while we’re touring are extremely talented. I think the hardest thing these days is to find your own voice.

JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?

BSH: – We had that experience in the 80’s and it’s tough but if you really believe in the band and yourself keep going. Something will happen. With a little luck and a lot of hard work.

JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

BSH: – Influences are very important and I remember copying Herbie Hancock solos to try to improve my skills and after a while you can develop your own sound and style. It’s hard these days to be totally original.

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

BSH: – Well people have such varying opinions about this. If you listen to the great German classical pianist Alfred Brendel talk about it he believes the intellect is very important. For me it’s more about soul and expression. I think sometime the intellect can get in the way.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

BSH: – I think it should be a balance between giving people what they want and also what i/we want.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

BSH: – So many stories but highlights would be gig wise first time we played in Japan in 1983 and Cape Town in 1993. Also of course the early days in the UK and we’re still playing and enjoying it more than ever.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

BSH: – A good tune will always be a good tune no matter how old. People are still listening to Monteverdi

JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?

BSH: – I don’t actually teach but I enjoy writing songs particularly the hits from the early 80’s. It does get harder but then that makes it more of a challenge.

JBN: – How important is it to you to have an original approach? Can you comment on the bridge between being a musician and being a composer?

BSH: – Of course originality is key but it’s so hard these days as there is so much music around.

I think as a musician there is no doubt that helps in composition although there are many people who’ve written massively successful songs who don’t even read music.

JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across? Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel?

BSH: – I think so much of it is something we feel. The connection that music can create. That is one of the most powerful things about music.

JBN: – What do you see for your extended future? You know what you have going on? You have life? If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

BSH: – Well as a band we will carry on recording and touring as long as we can. One thing I would change these days is people like Spotify and Youtube paying a fair royalty to all musicians.

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

BSH: – A mix of jazz fusion pop and all kinds really. I’m particularly enjoying a lot of Brazilian music these days. Ivan Lins,Eliane Elias and Bebel Gilberto to name but a few.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

BSH: – To enjoy life and and smile as much as you can. Happiness has been proved to prolong life!

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

BSH: – I’m pretty cool here right now but I might head back to the early 80’s to re enjoy some of those times.

JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

BSH: – Why so many questions?

JBN: – Thanks for answers, to drive readers your mind and intellect as a musician and as a person …

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

BSH: – Not sure what you mean but I feel very lucky to be making music after all these years and still tour and record and meet lots of wonderful people.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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