Interview with Brad Farberman: In music, I’m actually looking for honesty and simplicity: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Brad Farberman. 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?

Brad Farberman: – I truly never know where I’m going to go, or what I’m going to do. Recently, before a freely improvised session, I thought to myself, “What’s going to happen? How is this going to work?” I really couldn’t see it. I couldn’t imagine the music. And that’s what makes improvising so special. And so scary.

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

BF: – I do worry about this. I don’t want to borrow too much from anyone, and I want to sound like me. But in the end, we’re just a jumble of what we’ve heard and internalized. When your influences come out, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s probably better to just embrace it all.

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

BF: – For me, I like it when the scale tips away from intellect. In music, I’m actually looking for honesty and simplicity. I’m looking for the essence of an idea or concept. When things get too complicated, you start to lose me. Thinking too much is never a good thing.

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

BF: – I am. Live with Middle Blue, we play a lot of covers. We’ll do Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love,” or Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” Instrumental versions. Just songs I like. But when people in the room start to recognize the songs, you can feel the energy change. You feel really connected to the listeners. Popular music really brings people together. It’s a beautiful thing. I love it when Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy or Sexmob play a cover.

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

BF: – Recording Just Don’t Die with Daniel Carter and Billy Martin was a really special day for me. I had sort of grown up on the music of Medeski Martin & Wood and I was a little nervous. I had always wanted to play with Billy. And though I had been playing with Daniel for a long time, I wanted to make music he would be happy with. And at the end of the day, I felt okay about what had happened, but I wasn’t totally convinced it was a success. But when I listened back, I felt really good about it. We had all been listening so well. And as is so often the case, our first jam was the best. In fact, that’s the record—the very first hour we ever played. First-time energy can be really electric.

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

BF: – I don’t think we can or need to get people interested in jazz. I really don’t. People will find their way to it. It’s a beautiful, magnetic art. It will reach people. And if there’s a small audience, there’s a small audience. Audience size says nothing about the music.

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?

BF: – It’s really just about being yourself, and trying to avoid doing the same old things. When I’m writing a song, or thinking about an arrangement or a concept, I’ll ask myself, “Has this been done? Have we been here before?” And if I feel like the answer is yes, I’ll move on. There’s always something else you can do.

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? 

BF: – I don’t have a message exactly, but I do feel like I’m following three muses: funk, free-jazz, and popular music. People have combined all these things before. Lester Bowie. Steven Bernstein. Medeski Martin & Wood. But it’s not like a lot of people have moved in this way, so I feel like there’s room for me. And I feel like I have something to contribute.

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

BF: – I’ve been listening to Idris Muhammad and Donald Byrd. Plus all my major inspirations: D’Angelo, Les McCann, the Meters, Alice Coltrane, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Fela, King Curtis, Prince.

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

BF: – I would go straight to the session when Alice Coltrane was recording Journey in Satchidananda. Imagine being able to physically soak up that music. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle it.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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