Interview with Pat Collins: The soul has to come before intellect: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz bassist Pat Collins. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Pat Collins: – I grew up in a small town called Qualicum Beach, on the west coast of Canada.  My older brother played the piano when I was younger and being the curious toddler that I was, had to figure out what he was doing!  I started taking piano lessons when I was six years old and started playing the bass when I was fourteen.

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

PC: – I think as a younger musician, your sound is affected by the players you are listening to.  My first “bass hero” was Ray Brown, and when I first started playing, I did my best to emulate his sound and feel.  Over time, I began to explore other players like Paul Chambers, Scott LaFaro, Ron Carter and Dave Holland, and have tried to take elements from each of them and make it my own.  I’m not sure how successful I’ve been, and feel it’s a work in progress!

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

PC: – Rhythm is an element in my own practicing that I feel has been lacking somewhat over the years.  During the pandemic, I’ve tried to push myself rhythmically, and really get out of my comfort zone.  I’ve been practicing playing in non-traditional time signatures, and superimposing different polyrhythmic ideas in traditional time signatures.

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

PC: – One of the few benefits of getting older is that you care much less about what other people think, which in terms allows you to be truer to your own sense of musicality.  You can’t please all of the people all of the time, nor should you try.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

PC: – This isn’t something I’ve really spent a lot of time thinking about.  I tend to focus more on being musically prepared for a performance, and if I’ve done that, everything else should be okay.  In my personal life, I’ve always tried my best to positive and level headed.  In terms of musical stamina, that’s been a big focus of my practicing during the pandemic.  Not having the chance to play with other musicians, it makes it challenging to stay in shape musically, particularly as a bass player.

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

PC: – This trio has been playing together for about fifteen years and during that time we’ve developed a familiarity with each other’s playing, while at the same time pushing each other.  Reg and Tom are two of my favorite musicians on the planet and I consider myself very lucky to have the chance to play with them.

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

PC: – For me, soul has to come before intellect.  Music should speak to your heart first, head second.  That being said, for jazz to move forward and evolve, there has to be some element of intellect in terms of the compositions and playing in order to say something new.

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

PC: – Frankly, I play jazz for myself.  I didn’t go into music to make other people happy, there was something about the music that spoke to me and I can’t imagine my life without it.  I genuinely hope audiences and the people I play with like what I’m doing, but as selfish as it may sound, I’m in it for me and making the other musicians I’m playing with sound as good as they can sound.

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

PC: – Like most musicians who have been doing this for a while, I’ve got lots of great stories.  I was lucky enough to do a recording a few years back with the great Jimmy Cobb.  It was a record lead by Toronto pianist, Mark Eisenman.  At the session, Jimmy was all business and really took things seriously.  It would have been so easy for him to walk in and say something like, “Okay guys, you’ve got two hours, let’s get this over with”, but Jimmy wanted to make things sound as good as they could.  His attitude and dedication was very inspiring and I’ve done my best to bring that mindset to any musical situation I’m involved in.

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

PC: – The standard tunes were old when I started playing as well, and there was still something that drew me to them.  I don’t think you necessarily need to listen to standards when you first start listening to jazz.  I was listening to a lot of recordings that I now refer to as “gateway jazz” when I first started out; music that wasn’t straight ahead jazz, but had jazz elements to it.  Over time, if you decide to become serious about jazz, you have to go back and listen to the masters play and learn something of the classic tunes that they played.  When I hear Charlie Parker today, it sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday, it sounds so fresh!

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

PC: – I think that your music is a manifestation of your being.  Whatever is going on in your life will come out in the music.  I’m generally a pretty happy person, and I think this album is reflective of that.  Personally, I don’t think that music is my spirit, simply a reflection of who I am and where I am on any given day.

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

PC: – That musicians get paid as much as pro athletes!  I just hope that in the future, particularly after all the covid craziness, that there are still gigs for everybody.

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

PC: – I’ve been going back and listening to some of the music I did when I was younger.  Some pop music, and some of the jazz that got me initially inspired to play it.  I’ve also been very inspired by Brazilian music lately, I love the melodic and rhythmic sense that music has.

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

PC: – My music doesn’t have a message, but I hope people enjoy it.

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

PC: – I would love to go to New York City in the late 1950’s and hang out at the Village Vanguard!  There was so much great music made at that club by so many great players.

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

PC: – What do you love about jazz and how did you get so interested in it?

JBN: – Jazz is my life !!!

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

PC: – I’d like to thank you very much for the opportunity to answer your questions!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Pat Collins Trio will jazz up The Old Mill | Mississauga.com

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