Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Perry Smith. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Perry Smith: – I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and got interested in music and the guitar because my Dad had a guitar around the house and I had friends and family members who played.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
PS: – Over the years I developed my sound to be more routed in the acoustic nature of the instrument. To develop that, I practiced a lot acoustically in addition to the amp. I also really focused on the small details within my hands and set up that go into creating a sound on guitar.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
PS: – I play a lot of drums, which helps reinforce the rhythmic feel I want to achieve on the guitar.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
PS: – I stay true to the music by always making sure what I’m playing is coming from a good place. Void of ego or insecurity and try to exist in the moment to capture the most creative and interactive way of playing.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
PS: – I make sure my instrument is in good shape and that I’ve checked out the music ahead of time. I also take care of myself through exercise and eating health which really helps my stamina to perform on the Guitar.
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JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
PS: – Intellect is the left brain side that helps you approach an issue and find a solution. Soul is your unique essence that comes through when your right brain is more active and your can be a conduit for the music to flow through you.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
PS: – Yes, I feel there is a balance to be struck between giving the audience something they might not expect and also considering what they need in the moment.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
PS: – One time at a performance opening for Diana Krall, my amplifier would not turn on because one of the sound techs had turned off the powerstrip that the amp was plugged into. It was nerve racking but I eventually figured it out.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
PS: – Make it sound and look really good and fresh, even when playing an old song.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
PS: – In a brief answer, I would say the meaning of life is service to others and achieving inner peace. If you can represent that in your music then your artistry is coming from a good place and will always sound good.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
PS: – I would change things so people had to actually pay for recorded music again like they did before the days of streaming.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
PS: – I listen to a lot of folk music, r&b, classical and of course jazz.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
PS: – I think the message I choose to present through my music is passion and creativity combined with discipline and hard work.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
PS: – I’d probably go back to New York City in the 1950s to hear bebop and the beginnings of hard bop in full swing.
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
PS: – I harness these elements through daily practice and a commitment to putting my art out into the world.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan