Interview with Nobuki Takamen: World peace: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Nobuki Takamen. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Nobuki Takamen: – I grew up in a small town in Hiroshima. I started playing the guitar at the age of 14 after I heard the guitar intro to The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel. It was the sound of the guitar that got me into music.

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

NT: – In the beginning of my career, I tried to imitate the sound of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Pat Martino and other great jazz guitarists. Through this process, I started realizing my own ideal sound little by little. After that I just develop my sound to be able to get the sound that I hear and have in my head.

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

NT: – My practice routine has changed constantly over the years. Besides short warming up exercises that I do every day, I tend to focus on developing my tone and musical ideas. I also spend lots of time on listening music and learning tunes. Being around great musicians and playing with them have developed my abilities not only to pertain to rhythm but everything else enormously.

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

NT: – Playing only what I hear. Listening to other musicians and make music with them.

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

NT: – Eat and drink healthy, laugh a lot, do exercises and stretch.

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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?

NT: – I selected the musicians on this album because I went on tour with them in Japan in 2019 and planned the recording after the tour.

They used to live in the US so I got to play with them all the time. They went back to Japan a while ago so only time I get to play with them is when I go there. We’ve done lots of tours in Japan and also toured in Europe too. When I prepared for the tour and recording for this album, I had them in mind. This was very helpful because I knew what they would play and also what would inspire them to create something new and interesting.

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

NT: – I think soul is more important to me.

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

NT: – Yes, I’m totally ok with giving them what they want. However, it’s very hard to know what they really want, and I don’t think about audience when I compose. I think about audience and concerts when I arrange my tunes though.

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

NT: – My first solo show at the Montreal Jazz Festival 2009. I had done lots of solo gigs playing jazz standards before the show but that was the very first time to play my original compositions in a solo setting. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever done as I felt a strong connect to the huge audience at the festival.

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

NT: – The rhythm of jazz is what makes people dance, so no matter how old or new tunes are, I think young people get into jazz when they get to feel the rhythm of jazz. I have done lots of workshops to teenagers at schools and I have witnessed they started moving their body as they heard us play jazz.

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

NT: – I’m still trying to figure it out!!

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

NT: – All the streaming services pay more to musicians and composers.

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

NT: – I’ve been listening to lots of music in my car these days. Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, etc.

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

NT: – World peace.

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

NT: – I would like to go to a hospital where I was born on my birthday in 1977 to say thank you to my parents and my sister.

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

NT: – How can I survive in these difficult times?

JBN: – You can die?

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

NT: – Enjoy every moment because life is happening now.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Nobuki Takamen profile - SmallsLIVE

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