June 14, 2024


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An interview​ ​with​ ​Sasha Masakowski: Wynton Marsalis certainly makes a business out of jazz, jazz is still evolving … Video

Jazz​ ​interview​ ​with​ ​jazz​ ​vocalist​ ​Sasha Masakowski. An interview by email in writing.

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

Sasha Masakowski: – I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and was raised in a very musical family. My mother is a concert pianist, and my father a renowned jazz guitarist so music was just an inherent part of my upbringing. I would fall asleep every night to my mother practicing piano, and my father would teach me ear-training at a very young age. I was going to concerts all the time, listening to rehearsals and hearing recordings non-stop. Aside from all that, New Orleans is a very musically rich city and kids that grow up in New Orleans are exposed to so much musiceverything from second-lines to bounce music to swing to brass bands. Music is the pulse, the heartbeat, of that city.

JBN.S: – What interested you in picking up the vocal?

SM: – I began singing in choirs when I was very young and loved the way you could use the voice as an instrument. I was also taking piano lessons and thought it was so cool that you could arrange any number of voices stacked up to create a chord, the same way you would stack keys on a piano to make a chord.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the trumpet you are today? What made you choose the vocal?

SM: – Leah Chase was my first jazz voice teacher in college when I was studying at the University of New Orleans. She taught me about phrasing and improvising and really helped me feel comfortable singing jazz in a professional setting.

JBN.S: – What about the Your sound did that influence at all? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

SM: – I think I’m still developing my sound- I think as an artist you always are evolving and changing. I think writing music has helped to develop my sound. My songs, my compositions are the things I’m most proud of.

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

SM: – I always try to play with really great musicians. People that inspire me and push me to new places. That’s how I’ve developed into the musician I am today- it’s all from playing with and learning from such great artists. I don’t have a set practice routine- I just try to sing and write music every day. And right now in some funny ways my focus on rhythm is through producing music- working with step sequencers and doing drum programming. I did my first gig on electronic drum sequencer a few weeks ago- it was such a powerful feeling to be able to control the rhythm, choose when the beat drops, switch grooves, etc.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

SM: – I think individuality and hard work and perseverance are the keys to navigating the music business. Taking the time to develop your art, getting really good at what you do, and just keep creating. Finding the things that make you unique, finding ways to put your personality into your art, always staying open to growth and development and staying humble are also really important.

JBN.S: – Аnd finally jazz can be a business today and someday?

SM: – If you want it to be a business, then it can be. Wynton Marsalis certainly makes a business out of jazz. But I know plenty of brilliant jazz musicians who don’t care to make a business out of their art, so it really is up to the individual.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are from half-a-century ago?

SM: – The songs from half-a-century ago are supposed to be fundamentals that we learn to then go off and create something totally new, in my opinion. So when you think of it that way, jazz is still evolving and there are plenty of jazz-rooted bands who have tremendous success with young audiences- take Snarky Puppy, Knower, or Hiatus Kaioyte for example.

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

SM: – I believe humans are spiritual beings and music is one of the purest forms of expression. As artists, our mission in life is to inspire. We are peace makers and truth tellers and by creating art we can evoke emotion, change, revolution in our society.

JBN.S: – What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

SM: – I fear the corporatization and homogenization of music. The same way we see with the food industry, with mega-clothing brands, social media industry. Mass produced mainstream pop music is bad for your ears the way eating McDonalds every day is bad for your health. On the flip side though, I see so many young artists making incredible music that is truly innovative and groundbreaking, that also incorporates cool visual aesthetics and they are making music on their own at home, which means broke artists don’t have to spend thousands in a recording studio anymore- you can make cool art from your bedroom and learn all the tools you need from watching youtube videos.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

SM: – I’ve just finished a new album called Art Market that I’m really proud of and excited about. It’s a bit of a departure from the more traditional jazz-sounding albums I’ve made in the past, and incorporates lots of my work as a producer. Once that’s released (early 2018), I’ll be developing a completely solo show- where I’m playing synth and drum sequencers and doing vocal loops, so that I can go on tour and plays show as a solo electronic artist (mostly under the name of my alter-ego, Tra$h Magnolia) and augment with live band members if/ when possible.

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

SM: – Photay, Death Grips, Deerhoof, Anna Wise, Baths, Autolux, Donny Hathaway, Little Dragon, Milton Nacimento, The Meters to name a few.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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