Interview with Yann Benoist։ Music gave me the real direction of my life: Video, New CD cover

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Yann Benoist. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Yann Benoist։ – I grew up  in Dinan a small city in Brittany (West part of  France) and really young i was fascinated by what i heard with friends on radio  specially Rock and Blues  most of the time from  England ( Beatles , Rolling Stones …)or  singers like Ray Charles , from America .

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

YB: – I  used to play on different guitar at my parent’s home ( 6 ,12 strings acoustic or nylon strings) But  for live  dates at that time  i had always  an  electric guitar . It was end of  sixties  so even when i was at school  i  used to  play with different bands 2 or 3 times a week  so in a way  it helped me  to  develop my  sound .

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

YB: – For Rythm i never had  any special training . I’ve listen a lot of records trying to pick up chords. As a teenager there was no books to learn about that kind of music … Then a little bit after i performed with a lot of musicians and bands. Later on, end of 70 ‘s 80’s 90’ and 2000’s  i’ve  have done a lot of sessions. The first »rôle«  as a guitarist  is to have a good rythm  before to be a soloist. About daily  training i use to play some melodies ( most of the time it’s sounds a little blues then i like  to improvise on old standards … it depends of my feeling .

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

YB: – I just try  to  follow my heart in a way and i hope it feels ok.

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

YB: – Nothing really special. When i play it ‘ s too late to think ..․ may be i could say: i  do the job and it is what it is. It depends of you the other musicians and the audience.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2021: Hard Groove (New Blues: Diggin’ Miles Davis, Randy Brecker), how it was formed and what you are working on today.

YB: – In  the mid seventies  i ordered the «Berklee correspondance course» and it helped a lot in my career . I received some really good advise by a teacher from Berklee School  … when i arrived  in Paris (1976). Jazz standards and famous  guitarist  was in my mind (Joe Pass specially)․  But suddenly i was involved in  the « Paris music business »  it give me a lot of oportunity to work and improve my background .I could read the music play picking , classical (all  that stuff) and i had  my Jazz Knowledge .

About this new album it ‘s like a kind of outcoming. i took  a step … i’ve always like the music of these two «Monuments Miles Davis & Randy Brecker». I ‘ve seen them different times in France. Two years ago  i began to work on some of their tunes and later i got a date   in a  Paris Jazz Club « Sunset Sunside  .. It was full and the Audience was really warm  .. So when the Pandemia arrive in  2020 i decided to stay home  to work on it.

JBN: – And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

YB: – In the past I have worked with some of them in studio or on stage. Some weeks before to be enclosed we have performed in this Jazz club and it works. So i nearly took the same combo․

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

YB: – In my opinion soul is the basic but really close you need Intellect to always learn, change or adapt to new situation.

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

YB: – Of course yes can you imagine: it »s so positive to have an audience … so we are here to please this audience  and to get a good time too….

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

YB: – A day i got a call for a Session . It was for a famous French singer named Sacha Distel  .. i was excited to play for him   because before having a sucess as a singer  he was a very good  guitarist ( Best French Jazz guitarist in 1956)   . So ,for that session i had to play some of his old songs and specially one recorded a long time ago with the famous violonist Stephane Grapelli ( Ma premiere Guitare )   the Sessionmanager  told me that we have to be really in time for my guitar part because he did’nt want me to meet Sacha …. . I respected the deal  but i was a little bit frustrated   … When  suddenly late in the evening i got a call  from the manager . He said that Sacha did’nt like something that i played  .. But he  said do’nt  worry  it has nothing with your guitar playing  it’s just that he is curious and want to meet you  … So the day after we had a really good Lunch  together and i learn a lot of things about jazz in Paris in the 40’s 50’s …..

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

YB: – I think you  have to be curious about Harmony and Melody, the way they work together even if  it’s a simple song  .. you must try to understand then you suceed so little by little it will be more and more interesting ….

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

YB: – Music gave me the  real direction of my  life .. Curiosity to learn ,  trying to do the best and to progress in what i discovered when i was young. Music can give you a lot of goals and  if you’re serious about it. it ‘s never ending.

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

YB: – I would like to have more live performances everywhere  . i wish  young musicians  could learn , play and have a lot of experience on stage not only be a « you tube addict »

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

YB: – These last days i like to   discover again some old things like Beatles, Animals etc or some old jazz guitarist like Kenny Burrel or West Montgomery    …

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

YB: – I’m a French musician from Britanny and first i feel realy happy that my music arrives to you …My wish are really simple: Hope all kind of people will appreciate it … Right now i  feel curious about that.

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

YB: – New York 40’s for Jazz   London  60’s  for Rock

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

YB: – What made you decide to contact me??

Your mail  was from Boston … and you speak about my Cd  «Hard Groove (Diggin’ M Davis&R Brecker) released in Paris  one month ago …. I m so far from you … but may be not that far finally  in that Twenty one century ..

I wiil never forget it …..

JBN: – Yes, I live in the Worcester, MA.

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

YB: – Since the beginning i can say i have  always been excited about Music. Year after year  it has been enriching and challenging … It has always been a benefit for me .. To dive in the Music and specially Jazz for me  it’s like to study   the  writers and painters  from the Nineteen Century ….

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Dinan - Yann Benoist. Le guitariste de Cabrel, Renaud et Bécaud - Le Télégramme

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