Interview with Charlie Ballantine: I always try and push myself to come up with complex ideas: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz gutarist and composer Charlie Ballantine. 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?

Charlie Ballantine: – The way I improvise typically depends on who I’m playing with or what the context is.  I really try to make every decision reactionary and complimentary to whatever is going on around me and just try to agree with everyone musically.

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?

CHB: – That’s a tough one because there is such a wide spectrum of music majors out there. I think a lot of what you do in music school revolves around things like chord-scale relationships, ear training, and different types of theory which are all incredibly valuable tools and how you use the information is where you can really be creative in expressing yourself. It just all depends on the student.

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?

CHB: – The business aspects can be tough but most of the musicians I know would be doing what they do no matter what the circumstances are.

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

CHB: – I think everyone is always trying to find their own balance.  For me personally it feels like an even mix.  I always try and push myself to come up with complex ideas but try not to lose the feeling of soul in the music.

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

CHB: – There is definitely an art to being able to play to the room and fit whatever environment you are in.

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

CHB: – I was recently playing a gig in Indianapolis, Indiana and the incredible guitarist Tommy Emmanuel randomly walked in the door and asked to sit in! It was amazing

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

CHB: – There are so many great musicians pushing the genre in different directions all of the time.  Since it’s such a rapidly evolving thing I think there will always be a young demographic that digs the music.

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

CHB: – Not at all.  Sometimes I run into walls but it isn’t because of teaching. If anything the teaching can help inspire new 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?

CHB: – Having an original approach is something I couldn’t really avoid.  I always wanted to sound like my heroes but every time I tried it sounded like something else ha. I think being an improvising musician and composer are almost synonymous with one another.  When I’m improvising as a musician I feel like I am on some level composing in that moment.

JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across?

CHB: – Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel? Usually just whatever I feel in regard to whatever is going on around me.

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? 

CHB: – Hopefully my future is continuing to play music all over the place with my friends.

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

CHB: – Lately I have been really digging into julian lage, Brad Meldau, The Bad Plus …

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

CHB: – I hope it evokes something in everyone who hears it.

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

CHB: – Would love to go back and see Hendrix!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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