June 21, 2024


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Interview with Oleg Kireyev: XXI century, although it develops and promotes jazz a lot, has not made any revolutionary breakthrough: Videos

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Oleg Kireyev. An interview by facebook – email in writing.

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

Oleg Kireyev: – I was born and raised in the Urals, in the capital of Bashkiria. It’s located far off Russia’s midland, next to Tatarstan, Orenburg. It’s really cold in winter there, but people are very warm-hearted.

In my earliest childhood I was fascinated by piano sounds, was drawn to them. When I was 7, my parents and uncle Seriozha managed to buy me a “Kazan” upright piano, I started going to music school.At the age of 14 I went to Ufa musical collegeto study saxophone performance. Jazz studies department had been just opened by that moment.And I made up my mind to apply to it… because I loved one melody, “The shadow of your smile”, that was the only reason. I recall how I was gravitating towards a piano, wherever I saw it, I approached it and pressed the keys… Those sounds bewitched me so much!

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

OK: – When I was enrolled to the college, exactly during the exam, a saxophone teacher came up to me and suggested studying saxophone. I asked what it was and he replied “A pipe bent this way!” and showed a curve with his hands. I couldn’t even imagine that it would be my Destiny, my Voice for the rest of my life! The most interesting part was that there were no adequate instruments in Redland and I caught a shiny saxophone manufactured at the Leningrad steelworks. Holy Christ, that was the kind! I did not play at all! But after several weeks of attempts to produce a sound something came out of that monster.

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

OK: – My teachers were … radio stations, forbidden in USSR at that time – “Voice of America” and “Radio Liberty”, where jazz shows and records of the jazz Greats were broadcast. John Coltrane, Miles Davis etc. Listening to these geniuses in particular showed me that this musical way is highly important and interesting for me. And saxophone was the very instrument to communicate with the world by means of music language, which is really great!

When in 90s I came to Seattle, to Bud Shank’s school (he was well over 70), I noticed that, in spite of his age, he spent really much time practicing, just as other great musicians. MeanwhileIdidnotstandoutforthatkindofdiligence, alas.

Jazz is a very peculiar genre. When you pick up your instrument, whether that be trumpet, piano or your own voice, the main part in making the decision plays the voice of your heart. And, I’ll repeat myself, destiny.

For instance, it’s hard to imagine Louis Armstrong playing a saxophone. Although I’m sure he would have been a mind-blowing saxophone player. The same holds true for the other Greats.

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

OK: – My sound is a quintessence of sounds and stylistic ideas, which was growing through the years and has become what it is now.

But there’s one big “but”. The melody is my priority. I love creating and discovering something new, but not within a chaos. Although I gladly played avant-garde back in the day.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating through 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?

OK: – That’s a very important and challenging question. The thing is that nowadays in any kind of business it’s not enough to be just a gifted person. One has to create a bright and preferably comprehensible product for the audience.

Still, if you do not make ambitious aims and want to be just an excellent musician expecting offers, it’s a worthy journey to self-discovery as well.

In Amsterdam, for instance, there’s a special educational subject in Amsterdam, where students are asked to promote their bands during summer vacations and to present a report after the summer tour. I guess it’s a very fruitful experience.

Surely, it’s critical for the rising generation to meet other musicians, both in their motherlands and abroad. In our informational age it’s more than achievable.

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

OK: – No, jazz … even for the brightest musicians today is no business. I’m speak ingofre alt our ing with original jazz stuff. Sure enough, a classy musician can always make a living by accompanying in various genres and styles. Still, it’s essential not to abandon jazz, not to evolve into a handicrafter. Although, everybody makes their own choices in life, everybody has their own circumstances.

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

OK: – If we are talking about qualified young jazz musicians, I’m pretty sure they study jazz standards at their colleges very well. Besides, the skill level both of teachers and students is far higher than it was 20 years ago.

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

OK: – John Coltrane and his art turned to the Spirit. His music was perceived even by his contemporaries as some revelation from above. Coltrane and Parker were two geniuses (I’d put Parker at the front), who were not just playing jazz, but served as guides of Universe’s melodies within jazz genre.

The impact they made is Spirit. Their lives, their music, their destinies, subordinate to the definite time, everything serves an evidence to the fact that two musical prophets appeared. Orwecancallthemjazzguru.

I often say at my concerts that all jazz icons were made in XX century. XXI century, although it develops and promotes jazz a lot, has not made any revolutionary breakthrough, and we cannot even observe it anywhere ahead. Globalization – when the inner spiritual life of a human takes a back seat and is replaced by marketing – is to blame.

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

OK: – If we’re talking of a normal attitude, I, just like other sensible people, am worried about the society perversion, which oppresses the humanity. I’m happy to have experienced (in the times of USSR) the feeling of emotional warmth and wholesome aspiration for the future. I hope our youngsters will manage to find themselves in this crazy worlds.

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

OK: – I’m glad that several albums of mine were released on US labels and made it to the American radio charts. “The Meeting” (2015)was placed inside the TOP 100 of American radio stations. Tom Harrell, the legendary trumpet player, my friend and album’s producer Keith Richards and phenomenal Ben Williams (bass) with E. J. Strickland (drums) play on this record.

Currently, I include my original works in the set list. Of course, the registration strip, of course. Jazz standards. I also try to transform harmoniously-rhythmically.

It is always interesting and interesting, and everything that I like, perceive my compositions from the heart, as well as my vision of the musical world.

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

OK: – Onone hand, thereare, indeed. On the other, no, there are not. I’llexplain. Many folk traditions have rhythmic alfoundation that unites jazz, rock etc. There are certain common modi, like pent atonic scale. But swing in rhythm is characteristic for jazz only. Thes ame things wecan find in Latin rhythms – an ice example of in serting folk music into American jazz.

Myband, “Orlan”, hasalwaysprofessed ethnic style, due to nice combination of jazz with Bashkir and Tatar melodies. In my other projects I love using ethnic music of different nations.

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

OK: – I’m omnivorous, good pop doesn’t irritate me as well. But as a rule, in my car, in my soul, in my heart – mainstream jazz is playing. From Dexter Gordon to Bill Evans, whom I can listen to over and over again.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

OK: – In the modern world, you should not lose your inner voice, which sounds somewhere deep inside you. And prompted you to move forward. Many settings depend on the philosophy of life. Of course, many negative factors could become a subject of peace, but, despite the fact that we carried our dreams within ourselves.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018 !!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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