Interview with Angelo Verploegen: I need intellect for studying, practicing, analyzing, exploring music: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter and flugerhornist Angelo Verploegen. 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?

Angelo Verploegen: – One of the truly great things of improvising is that you do it together with fellow musicians. For me improvising is always a collective effort. What path I take or direction I go depends on two things: the material I play (melody, harmony, form of the song or composition) and what and how the other musicians are playing. So the path or direction develops along the musical dialogue(s) going on within the group.

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

AV: – I warmly welcome as many influences as possible to color what I’m doing. Ideally these influences keep me from doing the predictable things.

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

AV: – I need intellect for studying, practicing, analyzing, exploring music. I try to understand how things work and try to improve my playing by this understanding. But, when putting all of this into the practice of performing I need to let soul prevail.

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

AV: – This is an interesting observation indeed. You could say that without an audience the artists output doesn’t exist. So I definitely need an audience to be able to do what I do and I definitely try to reach my audience on an emotional and intellectual level. However, the only thing I have to offer is my integrity. I give my audience what I know, what I can, what I feel, my heart and my soul. If they are okay with that, our relationship works.

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

AV: – Too many to mention but let me try to pick a few: the 2 recording sessions with the legendary Rudy van Gelder in the early 90’s with my band The Houdini’s left an indestructible impression, to work with such an iconic figure in jazz! Playing at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, again with The Houdini’s but also with the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (JOC), is an amazing experience. I had many memorable moments with the Metropole Orkest performing with Gregory Porter, Jazzmeia Horn, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuha, Gonzalo Rubalcaba amongst many other amazing guests. Being on tour in China, Russia, South Africa, Australia, or Turkey, with The Houdini’s, JOC, Paul van Kemenade’s Three Horns and a Bass, bassist/composer Egon Kracht and meeting all these divers audiences is so rewarding – seeing that music is able to go straight through all possible barriers and literally crossing all borders. And I find it always very exciting playing in intimate trio- or duo settings such as the trio with singer Izaline Calister and guitarist Ed Verhoeff or the above mentioned duo with drummer Jasper van Hulten.

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

AV: – By keep playing these tunes in a tru and heartfelt way. Bachs, Beethovens, Brahms, Mahlers music is way older and still pretty much alive I would say, and so is the classical and folk music from other cultures and continents. In other words, I don’t think the age of good music is of any relevance. I teach at the Jazz & Pop department of the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem and at the Utrecht School of the Arts and it pleases me very much to see that todays youngsters still get so much inspiration from Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker… So, no worries.

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?

AV: – It’s important to me to be able to express myself as personally and intuitively as possible though my music. I guess everything I do is part of this process of trying to find and develop my own voice. So to me originality is in the individuality.

Although the playing and composing come form the same creative source, I would say that the composing comes more from the intellect side of that source. In my case it can start from any musical cell, for example a melodic interval, a rhythmic figure, a time signature, a certain groove. My composing is a pragmatic effort, usually meant for particular occasions and line-ups.

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?

AV: – What I do try is to make something happen emotionally: excitement, surprise, comfort, discomfort, joy, fun… So hopefully something that we feel.

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

AV: – I consider myself very fortunate doing the things I do and for the opportunities given to me and I sincerely hope to be able to continue doing all of it.

As for a change in the musical world, if I speak for the Netherlands, a little more appreciation and support from our government would be nice.

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

AV: – I’m traveling a lot and that’s usually an opportunity for me to listen to music. For that purpose I put a selection of music on my phone. At this moment this selection consists of Astor Piazzolla, Bill Evans, Brad Mehldau, Branford Marsalis, Buika, Charlie Haden, Clifford Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Fay Claassen, Freddie Hubbard, Glenn Gould (playing Bach), Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Harry Connick, Jr., Herbie Hancock, Izaline Calister, Janine Jansen (playing Beethoven, Bruch, Britten), Jesse van Ruller, Joe Lovano, John Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Kenny Garrett, Kurt Elling, Nicholas Payton, Richard Bona, Roy Hargrove, Sarah Vaughan, Stan Getz w/Kenny Baron, Steps Ahead, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Till Bronner, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis.

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

AV: – I’m so impressed by what the young musicians of today accomplish that I wonder where this is leading to. So please, let me take a peek into the future, let us say 30 years from now.

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

AV: – I find myself in a very fortunate, privileged and gratifying position. The tremendous amount of energy I receive from what I do enables me to keep doing all the hard work that it takes being a musician. This might sound a bit cryptic but I’m sure you know what I mean.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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