Interview with Michael Jefry Stevens: Music is like meditation: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Michael Jefry Stevens. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Michael Jefry Stevens: – Born in New York City. Raised through age 8 in the projects in Queens, NY.  Parents met as ballroom dancers so music was always in the house. Wanted to play piano since age 5. From age 8 – 18 I lived in Miami Beach, Florida.  Left Florida at age 18 for College.

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

MJS: – Why would you want to prevent life from influencing you? Everything influences us constantly.  You have to choose what is important and what is not.

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

MJS: – Music is like meditation.  You have to enter the sacred space of Music and leave the material world behind.

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

MJS: – Soul is your heart.  Intellect is your brain.  You need to “study” the many aspects of the art of Music in order to understand them.  But, when you play music you must let your “heart” lead the way.  Only then can you transcend your intellectual brain.

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

MJS: – I like to please my audience, but it is more important to be true to myself.

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

MJS: – I met Elvin Jones after he performed a concert with his group in Italy.  He asked me if I was a musician.  I said yes.  He looked me in the eyes, held my hand, and said “keep playing because the world needs great music”!!!!

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

MJS: – All music comes from previous music.  Humanity is one long road or one long story that dates back many thousands, and perhaps millions of years.  The problem is not that the music is too old (Bach is much older).  The problem is that people do not get much of a chance to hear “live” Jazz.

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

MJS: – We are all on a spiritual journey.  Music is the language of the spirit.  It has the power to heal us and change us.  It is the one “universal” language that we all understand.

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

MJS: – I would make the media play the most beautiful and inventive music that exists on an equal basis with the more commercial music.

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

MJS: – Becca Stevens – Michel Petrucciani – Wayne Shorter – Jacob Collier –  David Crosby – Bill Evans…

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

MJS: – I want people to be in the moment and think for themselves.

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

MJS: – How did you become interested in Jazz?

JBN: – I took part in concerts, festivals, heard a lot of jazz and blues music … and it all became my life.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

  1. The Fonda/Stevens Group - Roulette
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