March 3, 2024

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An interview with Joost Lijbaart: Jazz was and is always an intellectual comment on music in the present time: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Joost Lijbaart. An interview by email in writing.

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

Joost Lijbaart: – I grew up in Hilversum the Netherlands. As a kid I was interested in music and especially drumming. My father was a drummer and we had a lot of jazz records at home which I started to listen to when I was a kid and try to copy the sound of Gene Krupa, Art Blakey, Max Roach and others.

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

JL: – I noticed I was always focusing on the drummer when I hear live shows or heard music on a recording. Especially drummers who did different things with the drumset so not only playing the rhythm but played in a more tone sensitive way.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the drums?

JL: – Victor Oskam, my classical teacher at the conservatory learn me the most about tone sensitive playing, technique, relaxation and sound imagination in relation to the human body. Before I went to the conservatory I followed 10 years of classical percussion lessons . The year before I went to the conservatory I had lessons from Roy Dackus who learn me all the basic stuff I needed to know and my drum teachers at the conservatory helped me to develop my own ideas. My drum teachers at the conservatory were Marcel Serierse, Cees Kranenburg and Gerhard Jeltes.

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

JL: – In the beginning I tried very hard to copy the sound of Tony Williams and later Jack DeJohnette. At a certain point I realized that copying this was getting a bit in the way of my own development so I said goodbye to my Jack DeJohnette cymbals and drums and looked for a lighter sound with cymbals and drums. From that point I never thought about my own style, I just played what I heard and discovered during the years it got more personally. I am a drummer but sometimes I play like a percussionist, light with different sounds.

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

JL: – What works the best for me in the past and still does is playing along with records or CD’s and focusing on the same subject for a longer time (3 months minimum). This can be a techniqual problem or learning a certain groove or tempo which is difficult for me.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

JL: – On this moment I am listening a lot to ethnic or world music from Mali, music from central Asia and music from Northern Europe. Normally in ethnic music harmonies are quiet simple but always with a strange twist. I really like that.

Картинки по запросу Joost Lijbaart Under the Surface 2017

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album: <Under the Surface>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album?

JL: – The idea for Under the Surface was a long wish from me, to make a totally improvised album. When I started to play together with Bram Stadhouders and Sanne Rambags two years ago I felt immediately that I wanted to do this idea with them. The album came out in March this year and was very well reviewed and we got a lot of great performances.

We are working on new sketches for a new album next year which will include even more infuences from ethnic music but used in a very abstract way.

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?

JL: – Most important is to be original and focus a lot on your own identity as an artist. Don’t come up with something what is not true or honest. Try to be as honest to yourself as possible without thinking of success. Success can only come if you are doing exactly what you want and than it will also be original. Second, stay out of your own comfort zone and always challenge yourself and go to musical plaes and situations where you don’t feel secure. This is the best way to leanr things.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

JL: – Of course, jazz is already a business!

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

JL: – I think jazz was and is always an intellectual comment on music in the present time with a strong improvisation part.  In the old days people were used to dance on jazz standards. Jazz musicians always made blends with different music and cultures (Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Don Cherry) so there is no difference with the present time.

Most important is to see jazz as an active and present art form, not as a museum. So when jazz musicians keep on with blending and searching in the present time (and of course knowing the history) jazz will be alive and interesting for younger people.

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

JL: – Music is for me the ultimate way to express myself. Music (and life) is bigger than one singel person so when you make music the music will actually tell you what to do if you listen carefully. That is for sure a spiritual feeling for me and also a deliverance.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

JL: – I am a pretty positive person however the more I read or watch daily news the more depressed I become. I think we live in a difficult time with a lot of huge changes. I hope humanity will realize its impact on each other and the planet. For myself I am more happy than 10 years ago. I turned 50 this year and it feels good. No more time to waist, just do what matters and where I belief in.

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

JL: – Going to an even deeper level of improvisation. Try to play even more what matters and become more one with the music.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

JL: – Yes, a lot, you have a lot of universal languages in music (the blues, certain rythms). I got a lot inspired by listening to world music which always has a surprising twist.

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

JL: – As I mentioned before, these days a lot to ethnic music (music from Mali, Kazachstan, Northern Europe) but also pop music from this time.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

JL: – With under the Surface it is a big set up. 18” bassdrum, 10,12,14,16 toms, snare drum 14” hihat, cymbals 18, 20,22 and 20 China and a lot of percussion (gongs, woodblocks, shakers, bells, see picture).

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Photo by Paul Bergen. Colour photo Keke Keukelaar.

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