Interview with Francesca Prihasti: Jazz has such deep roots and a vibrant history … Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Francesca Prihasti. 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?

Francesca Prihasti: – I think improvisation is spontaneous composition. It’s all about staying present in the moment and also taking the time to communicate what you want to express through the notes you’re playing. Most of the time it’s about starting with simple ideas and letting those ideas unfold.

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?

FP: – That would be sad if that person ended up quitting music. Sadly, It has always been a struggle for many people. even back in the past, there is racial discrimination involved. Surely, there are another set of problems that musicians face these days. The thing is sometimes we can’t always know and control the politics that happens underneath the music scenes. That’s why, I try to stay focused on my craft and do the best I can. All those musicians in the past have faced a lot of challenges and at the end of the day, their persistence and the quality of their work speaks for itself and lives on.

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

FP: – In terms of writing original music, I think It’s important to have many reference points. I believe all great book authors have extensive and deep knowledge and they have read a lot of other books before they come up with their own ideas. The same goes for musicians, the more music you listen to (and learn), the better writer you become and you can combine all those myriad of references into creating something that is unique.

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

FP: – Music that has complexity and sophisticated elements and is yet melodic and accessible.

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

FP: – It depends on the situation. In some scenarios, the musician is hired and is assigned to learn and play specific tunes for specific occasions for the audience. At other times, it’s also important to think independently to create the music you want, play your own way and let the public pick up on what you do which I believe is the effective way to find your own audience who can relate to your artistry.

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

FP: – I enjoyed the last recording session of my album Adriana. The whole process already began a few months before the session which includes writing, arranging and practising the tunes individually. I had a couple of rehearsal with the band and also organized logistical stuff like putting together an itenerary and detailed schedules. I learned that it was such a huge help to be prepared months in advance. That was why the session went smoothly.

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

FP: – Jazz has such deep roots and a vibrant history, so I believe the tradition will always be alive and find its audience.

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

FP: – I think writing music has more to do with incorporating it in your daily practise sessions. Most of the time it starts with simple rhythmic vibes or ideas and then I let those ideas grow as I dig deeper. I find that writing music is not like a hit and run situation, I like to continuously work and tweak it. It takes a lot of exploration as there are so many possibilities.

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?

FP: – Yes it is important to have an original approach which means you are not copying one specific kind of style or one person. Being an improvising musician and composer goes hand in hand. That was why it’s important for me to to expose myself to all kinds of music by listening to many records. I would like to have an extensive library of music in my head so that I can draw ideas from it and apply it in my compositions. The key is not to copy and paste those ideas exactly the same way, but to own those ideas, twist them and turn them into something else that resonates with me.

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? 

FP: – It is a combination of ideas that I described previously and something that I want to express. The latest release “Adriana” was a special tribute to my late Mother who passed away in May 2017.

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?

FP: – I have and know my personal and music related short term and long term goals. I look forward to the future but it’s more important to pay close attention to the things I can do right now step by step (and I do enjoy the process). I’d like to keep creating music and collaborate with other musicians and to  keep in mind that this particular craft i signed up for is a long game. It’s more like a marathon rather than a sprint. So yes, sustainability plays a huge part.

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

FP: – Currently i’ve been listening to Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman, Walter Smith III, Glenn Zaleski, Craig Taborn, Kenny Wheeler.

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

FP: – What I’d like to express is varied from time to time, it depends on what kind of experiences I go through at that particular time when I write a tune.

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

FP: – I’d love to see the jazz made in the 1960s and 1970s in the US.

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

FP: – I’ll think about some questions and will get back to you 🙂

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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