March 4, 2024

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Interview with Wolfgang Lackerschmid: I’m even afraid that it’s becoming just a business more and more: Video

Jazz Interview with jazz vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid. An interview by email in writing.

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

Wolfgang Lackerschmid: – My father was a forester, but a great musician too. Almost every evening he played piano at home. All kinds of broadway and movie songs by heart, using lots of block chords. As a little kid I joined him playing basslines or melodies along. improvising was a natural part of our piano-jamming.

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

WL: – I always loved the sound. When I was sixteen, I already earned some extra money by playing in several bands, piano with a trio, kind of experimental Jazz with the Fender Rhodes piano, but also Rock with organ and electric guitar. The drummer of my trio showed me an advertisement about a vibraphone for sale. So I got my first vibe, an old premier, which I started to add at some tunes when I performed. After a while I got calls from other musicians to join them for gigs, but the message was often: „You can leave your rhodes-piano at home, just bring the vibes“.

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

WL: – The main impulse that it became my main instrument was that I got most of my gigs on vibes from musicians like Albert Mangelsdorff when I was still a teenager. But I also was always composing music and wanted to study classical composition at the music university. All my exams were positively solved, but usually composition was studied after absolving a degree as concert instrumentalist. Because I was just 18, I was forced to do a full course as instrumentalist too. Those days, many new compositions were made for percussion, which includes mallet instruments. So I practised tympanies, drums and mallets and made another examen to study percussion. On vibes I played a 4 – voice Bach Choral, which impressed the jury. Today I’m very grateful for the classical education. I learned a lot about music and was able to improve my technique far beyond what I usually would play on vibes in Jazz.

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

WL: – Besides all the education, my main way to make music is still just playing the notes I want to hear. So first I feel and hear inside what I play, that’s the truest way, always connected to the moment, which is influenced by mood, place of performance, co-musicians, audience etc. My sound developed also by the music I heard. The funny thing is, that I listened more to horns and singers, pianists and guitarists, instead to vibes players. I guess that made me play different in a natural way. Phrasing a melody I try to speak like a trumpet or sax or even a singer. Solo and in bands, I cover the function of a piano or guitar, which helped to get many gigs with bands who did not want to depend on pianos on tour, specially at the time where the instruments in the Jazzclubs were sometimes very lousy. But american trumpet players like Chet also suffered by the very high tuned grand pianos at concert halls, which went up to chamber a with 444 or 445 hz instead of 440.

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

WL: – Playing sequences through all keys by connecting them, modulating with a little melody. Main thing is keeping the time, not slowing-down at the more difficult parts.

Comping with nice voicings, which could create their own melody on the side.

For keeping in shape with the rhythm, I play drums, practising also polyrhythmic things and trading left and right.

For composing and working on tunes I prefer the piano cause I can sit down. 😉

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

WL: – Depends on the kind of music. Not limited.

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?

WL: – Always play the gig you confirmed first, even if a better one comes up later. Be reliable and always on time. If you create your own music, be aware of your rights as composer, lyricist, arranger. In Germany we are lucky to have GEMA, which enables many musicians to make a living of the music they created.

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

WL: – I’m even afraid that it’s becoming just a business more and more.The main thing to me is, that I can make a living from what I love most and can do best. That’s natural, but still far away of thinking in business terms. Of corse, we have to be aware not to sell us too cheap, just because we love to play. It’s important to be in contact with the other musicians, composers etc. to fight for respect and fair treatment. The main download and streaming scene started to become a big business, except for the people who created and recorded the music.

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

WL: – Knowing standards is part of a common language we have, but we should not be lazy to limit our repertoire to a couple of old tunes. Specially in Jazz we have the freedom to make our very personal music. To use what we know about music to create our own sound makes us irreplaceable.

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

WL: – Playing music, we become kind of responsible for the emotions we create. Music can bring the listeners to higher level, opening heart and brain.

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

WL: – Most folk music all over the world is played by heart. That’s why it’s easy to jam together with Jazz-musicians. We can include musicians from any musical heritage, as long they can use their ears to connect with the band. Anyway Jazz did grow by influences from many different cultures, that’s one main thing to keep Jazz alive, creative and way beyond of just playing standards.

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

WL: – Besides my old Jazz favors and some Rock Albums from my youth (the ones where musicians improvised…) I check out the recordings of the young upcoming musicians, to know who might fit to any of my projects and to be alert of new musical influences.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

WL: – Besides Marimba, Xylophone and a so called Gramorimba with tuned bars, made of stone, I recently have four different Vibes to work with tuned from 440 – 444. Three of them are Musser, but the frames are modified. No extra stuff on the sides, no „blind“ tubes, I don’t want to carry more than I need to. Also it has to fit easy for car, elevators, even for the flightcase I designed for planes. I always try to optimize handling and sound. One vibe already ends with D6. I can put the table with the bars on two mic stands and use a seperate pedal via wire rope. In my studio for sound-variations. For studio recordings I sometimes use the new Bergerault, to have some variations with the sound. It’s made very solid, has less mechanical noise and the motor shows the exact speed on a display.

But I’m constantly trying to optimize by changing bars, tubes, felt etc.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Wolfgang Lackerschmid

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