Interview with Daniel Garcia: I find music to be a spriritual language: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz pianist Daniel García. 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?

Daniel García: – It really depends on the music. Some songs provide you a certain canvas in which you improvise, while others provide a completely open field in which the music can go anywhere each night. Of course I have always a sense of discourse, of storytelling, regardless what I play, that´s very important to me. I don´t know where I´m going in advance, but I try to be as eloquent as possible through music, so I can carry the message (whatever it is) straight to the audience.

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?

DG: – Mmm. We live very interesting times. It´s hard to generalize. Sometimes I get that feeling, but not always. I have the hope that true music will always find the way to get to the people, as it provides something you can´t fake with colourful lights and fancy clothes.

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?

DG: – I understand this situation, I´s happened to me,  and my experience is that I love music so much, it is so necessary for me, that no matter the obstacles and barriers you find on the way (a lot of them), you keep doing it, because you need it spiritually. It´s a bit of a crazy thing.

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

DG: – I don´t exactly know what you mean by disparate influences. I mean, I consider myself a very eclectic musician. I use for my music a very wide source of influences. Music is like the universe, much bigger than humans can even imagine, and this thing of labeling and classifying I find it very narrow. I have no problem of being influenced by a Bach fugue, a spiritual chant from Senegal, a folk song from my land or a song by Bruno Mars, Miles Davies, Skrillex, Camarón, The Beatles, or Ravi Shankar. As long as everything helps to find your voice. That´s the most important thing.

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

DG: – This is a difficult question to answer, since each one will have his/her own response to that. I find music to be a spriritual language, something that can affect us in a very profound way, so for me the “soul” component of it is very important.

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

DG: – I try to give the people what I want when I go to a concert. When I go to a concert I want to feel involved with what´s happening on stage, I want the music to carry me, I want the music to affect me, I want to feel how time stops, I want to cry, I want to smile, I want to understand, as well as I want to NOT undestand. So I try to feel all that while playing with the hope that it will get to the people.

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

DG: – Just a few months ago, we played in ElbJazz Festival in Hamburg, and after the concert, audience wouldn´t let us go. We had to finish due to the tight festival schedule, but people stayed claping and asking for more music, so after 5 minutes I had to go to the stage again and talk to them, say sorry and explain the situation. It was nice.

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

DG: – I think things are slowly changing. Since the 90´s some jazz acts like Brad Mehldau, The Bad Plus and others started to introduce songs from Nirvana or Radiohead to their repertoires, and that has become more and more common. Nowadays it is easy to find bands or artists that use a more modern songbook for their music. I don´t think the “Real Book “ standards will disappear, because those songs belong to the foundations of jazz as a language, but they will coexist with a lot more songs from different times and styles.

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

DG: – Well, I´m much more of a composer and performer than a teacher. I teach from time to time, but my concert schedule makes it hard to do it in a steady way. Sometimes is difficult to find the time to compose at home, because I´m always traveling. So my cell phone is full of audio memos with musical ideas.

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?

DG: – My goal is not to be original, that would be pretentious and meaningless. My goal is to be honest with who I am as a musician and a human being, and reflect it in my music with all the intensity I am able to. It is a hard task and requires a lot of inner searching, but when you are able to reflect who you are through music, it is very rewarding. It is a never ending process, full of ups and downs, but definitely worth it.

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?

DG: – It´s a mix of both. You try to feel things and use musical ideas as the tool to get to the feeling.

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?

DG: – I don´t like to think about the future, because it distracts me from the present, which is what I´m really interested in. I just want to keep composing, playing and sharing the joy of music with musicians and audiences around the world.

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

DG: – As I told you before, I have very eclectic tastes. These days I´m listening to a lot of Bach (always come back to him from time to time). Theres is a beautiful album by trumpeter Mathias Eick called Ravenburg that I´ve been listening to. I´ve been listening to Cuban traditional band Muñequitos de Matanzas too. Amazing music.

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

DG: – I want people to think twice about everything. To not take things for granted. I want people to realize that there is much more goodness in love than in fear, that it is much better to bring people together than to separate them. I strongly believe that music can help to make this world a better place, as it is an expression of our most spiritual an inner side. It is an open door to consciousness.

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

DG: – I would like to travel to the ancient Greek times. I´d like to meet Socrates, Aristoteles, Pitagoras, Plato… those people got into something.

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

DG: – What is jazz?

JBN: – Thanks for answers, because Jazz is my life!!!

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

DG: – I want to harness the fact that I´m alive and try to make things with a meaning. Thanks Simon for the interview!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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