Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Levan Lomidze. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Levan Lomidze: – I grew up in Georgia (USSR) I was not interested in music at all, but have been taking piano classes for 5 years as my parents wanted me to.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar?
LL: – In 1975 B.B. King came to Tbilisi and we – the schoolboys went to the show just to see some “Americans” playing rock’n roll (the forbidden music in USSR) But what I sow changed all my plans for future. The music I heard was noting like I was learning at piano classes. It was named blues and it was my music.
JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?
LL: – Later on I was desperately looking for a musician who would teach me how to play the blues but all in vain. There were no bluesmen in USSR.
Then I changed the strategy and started to learn blues guitar from the records . The hardest but very efficient way to learn the music. Thousands of rewinds and playbacks finally payed of. I found the best blues mentors on the globe: Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Albert King, Albert King e.t.c.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
LL: – Very good question. First few years I was trying to sound like my idols but later found out that it was a dead end. To be yourself – that’s what makes sense. Also I tried lots of deferent gears, like pedals and amps to develop my own sound, but finally discovered it in my brain and fingers.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
LL: – I love metronome. It develops great feel of time (which is very important) and turns you practice into the fun.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
LL: – 12 bar blues harmonic pattern as an essential is my favorite.
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?
LL: – Never place the money over your music. Be with your guitar only when you really want to. Because when you turn your passion into the money machine it will vanish forever.
JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?
LL: – Never ever! Nobody can mix water with oil, right?
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
LL: – Its true, blues and jazz become less popular every year. Its inevitable process.
The same happened with classical music before. We just should keep on going to keep it alive.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
LL: – Many ears ago I would easily answer this question. But now I’m not sure. Sorry.
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
LL: – Expectation of another gig brings me happiness. Sooner or later it will be over – it brings me fear.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
LL: – Im working on my new album, all original blues songs.
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
LL: – Of course, jazz, blues and folk are the backbones of world music. Anyone can hear it if is patient enough.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
LL: – Nowadays, along with the true legends I love to listen to young musicians who bring something very wonderfully reckless to the blues and jazz.
JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?
LL: – My set up is very simple Guitar-over drive pedal – amplifier.
JBN.S: – And if you want, you can congratulate jazz and blues listeners on Christmas and Happy New Year.
LL: – I wish all the Jazz and Blues lovers Mary Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan