Interview with Jared Peters: Jazz is so much more than a bunch of old tunes: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Jared Peters. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Jared Peters: – I grew up in a very rural part of Northwest Pennsylvania. The kind of place where the closest town is far enough away that it doesn’t really represent where you actually live. It must have been my Dad who got me interested in music. He likes all kinds of music and plays guitar. My brothers played in our school band. Once a year, I loved going to this Folk and Bluegrass Festival. That was my first experience with live music.

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

JP: – When I started playing, I listened to mostly very early Jazz, Early Western Art Music, Irish Folk Music and Appalachian Music. My sound probably really developed first when I went to college and really started studying the trumpet, but also when I opened my ears to more genres of music. It helped when I quit trying to be other people and focused on sounding like me.

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

JP: – I make sure to play every day. I always work on fundamentals first. I study classical music, etudes and such for trumpet as well as classical excerpts. I transcribe and do exercises with jazz standards. I love to listen to a lot of rhythmic music. I especially have an appreciation for Louis Armstrong’s use of rhythm. I think listening is key.

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

JP: – I just listen to anything that comes my way really, and if I like it, I make it my own.

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

JP: – I warm up before I get there. I try to do some meditation and breathing exercises. I may take a nap if I have time or listen to Ravi Shankar or William Byrd music. I will talk to the people in the audience if I can, and the band members.

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?

JP: – I never actually got to play with all the musicians at the same time before the recording date. I have a long history of playing with Vinny. He plays bass like how I would like to play bass if I were a bass player. I think he helped shape my playing a lot. Vinny also was a huge help in making the album happen. I have a bit of history playing with Tibbs. He has such an honest sound. Anthony and Joey, I didn’t have so much experience playing with, but I had heard them before and I knew their sound would add so much to what I was trying to achieve.

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

JP: – I can’t speak for everyone, but I know when it comes to performing for me, I try to do most of my thinking in the practice room. When it comes to composing, I like to do most of my thinking while I’m listening or writing out ideas. My compositions and all their parts are usually almost completely finished in my head before I write them down. Essentially, it’s like writing how I feel, even though how I feel may have been influenced by what I thought.

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

JP: – Trying to imagine what people may want is a headache and a half for me. I like to try and create music that is interesting to the most intellectual musician, as well as the least educated listener. My goal is to take more complex ideas, and try and make them feel simple and natural. Hopefully I am successful in that. It’s hard to know for sure what people want, so I try to just give them what I have and hope they like it.

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

JP: – Nothing specific. I did have a reoccurring gig when I was in music school in Youngstown OH. People I went to school with were regularly at that gig watching me play. That was perhaps one of the best compliments I ever received. It seemed like everyone at that school came out. It was incredible to me.

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

JP: – I’m no expert, but I think jazz is so much more than a bunch of old tunes. Those tunes changed my life, but I know they don’t always float everyone’s boat. Jazz is a spirit, a mentality, a lifestyle, a collection of subgenres, a set of rules waiting to be broken, and so much more. I think people should learn those tunes because they educate on fundamental jazz language, but there are so many improvising musicians out there with different opinions.

When Louis Armstrong was recording “All of Me”, he was recording his rendition of a pop tune. When Miles Davis recorded “Time After Time” and “Human Nature”, he was doing the same. I think jazz and pop music have always been close. Robert Glasper played “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It seems like a lot of Jazz musicians are digging Radiohead and Nirvana these days.

I think we should encourage people to listen and learn jazz, and play standards, but we also need to make jazz relevant to young people today. “Ain’t Misbehaving”, is a great tune, but what kid 14 years old, listens to a radio today? At the end of the day, people should play what they like, and if it’s jazz, that’s cool. But if it’s not how they feel, what’s the point? Music is communication, and if the words don’t say what you think, why use them. Jazz will continue to exist because it is constantly growing and changing. I just think modern trends suggest the 2050 Real Book will include Radiohead, that’s all.

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

JP: – From my perspective, music is art and art is communication, much like language and mathematics. Therefore, the music gives me an opportunity to try and communicate to my audience. As far as meaning in life, I think it is illusive. For me, like most people, life means something completely different now than it did a while back. If there is a greater meaning to life, it isn’t particularly relevant, because the only meaning that is relevant is the meaning you assign to a particular moment. My purpose I think is to have compassion, express joy, and constantly push myself to grow as a musician and a person.

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

JP: – I hear at one time it was easier for a musician to make a living. Maybe that would be nice. Or maybe just more access to quality music education for everyone.

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

JP: – A lot of Chris Potter and Louis Armstrong. Digging into more, Miles, Dizzy, Sonny Rollins, Chick Correa and I just bought a Fats Navarro album. Also, I listen to tons of music from around the world, specifically Spain and India. And Renaissance music. I love that stuff.

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

JP: – I like to try and create music that inspires people to remember simple times in their life. For me, my music reminds me of my childhood. Although humble and challenging at times, it was simple, innocent, and beautiful. I’m working on a few songs that I created to address issues I’m passionate about, that I think directly correlate with bigger issues we see today. Issues like pop influence and media coverage, as well as climate change. I don’t write about love much, but if and when I do, it’s about heartfelt and selfless love.

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

JP: – I think I would just like to see Louis Armstrong play, and maybe meet him.

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

JP: – I don’t have any questions I can think of. I am very grateful for the interview! I’ve been checking out your page and I think you have a lot of interesting stuff. I like reading these other interviews. I’m finding out about some neat people.

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

JP: – I’m just going to keep on making music and trying to be a better player tomorrow than I am today.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

MEDIA | jaredpeters

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