July 12, 2024


Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Karen Street: Rhythm and feel is key in all of them: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if accordionist Karen Street. An interview by email in writing.

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

Karen Street: – I started the accordion at age 7. there was an accordion school in Burton on Trent where I grew up. My parents weren’t musical although my grand mother was a pianist.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the accordion and saxophon?

KS: – Accordion as above and then I played the clarinet which led on to the saxophone when I was 15 so that I could play in the jazz band.

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

KS: – I had one teacher when I learnt the accordion and when I went to University I learnt with Mario Conway and Ivor Beynon. The saxophone I taught myself and then had some jazz lessons in London.

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

KS: – I listened to Art Pepper initially for the saxophone but also Phil Woods and Stan Getz and Michael Brecker. The accordion wasn’t as easy until the internet so I didn’t listen to many jazz accordionist apart from Jack Emblow who is British.

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

KS: – Whatever style I am playing in I always practise a lot and still do. I think I actually need to practise my rhythmic playing more!!

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

KS: – I prefer more contemporary sounding jazz.

JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you this 2017 year?

KS: – I am really not sure on this one.

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?

KS: – For me I have survived in the music business because I am versatile , I play all styles and I arrange and compose music. That doesn’t mean you can’t stay in one genre – you just have to be the best!

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

KS: – I think it is difficult to make a living solely as a jazz musician unless you are absolutely dedicated to your art.

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

KS: – I have this discussion all the time and it’s tricky. There are especially a shortage of women in jazz. Starting improvising at a very young age (8) would be great so that you don’t have any inhibitions so that when kids get to teenage years it is easier. I think jazz will always be a minority art as it sometimes not very inclusive and audiences don’t understand it. Sometimes jazz players don’t work hard enough to draw an audience in and that’s their choice.

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

KS: – I would say that music is how I identify myself it is such a big part of who I am and what I feel.

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

KS: – I want to write more original music and get it played. I fear not being able to play any more.

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

KS: – Getting my own bigger ensemble together and paying my music which will be crossover in style.

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

KS: – Yes each has it’s own language which need to be studied. Rhythm and feel is key in all of them.

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

KS: – I listen to a lot of new folk music which is starting to have many jazz influences.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

KS: – I play a Pigini accordion, my Tenor Sax is a Selmer super balanced action and my Alto a Selmer Super Action 80 series 1.

JBN.S: – And if you want, you can congratulate jazz and blues listeners on Christmas and Happy New Year.

KS: – Marry Christmas and  Happy New Year!!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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