May 25, 2024

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Interview with Allan Vaché: “Coltrane ruined all the saxophone players”: Video

Jazz interview with jazz clarinetist Allan Vaché. An interview by email in writing.

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

Allan Vaché: – I grew up in Rahway, New Jersey and my father was a musician, as is my brother.

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

AV: – I started on clarinet because I wanted to play saxophone. The school music program had all saxophone players start on clarinet first. An idea I still think is a good one.

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

AV: – I had a friend of my Dad’s teach me when I was younger but he wasn’t a very good teacher. However, when I went to college I studied with David Dworkin of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and independently with great jazz clarinetist Kenny Davern. Kenny was my mentor and good friend I would say he influenced my playing more than anyone else.

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

AV: – Not really sure. I experimented with mouthpieces and reeds until I found the ones I use now. I would also say that listening to many other clarinetists helped me develop my own sound. Taking a little from each.

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

AV: – None really. I rarely practice anymore. I find that practice does not help me much. Only practical application on a gig keeps me fresh and innovative. When I’m between gigs I will take my horn out and blow a few tunes on my own to keep my chops up.

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

AV: – Cycle of fifths, 2/5 progressions. Most standard jazz fare is based on these 2 combinations of chord changes. They are easy to recognize and can yield some great improvisational ideas.

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

AV: – I really don’t know. All the jazz I listen to comes from years long past.

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?

AV: – Wow this is a tough one. Opportunities for professional jazz musicians these days are virtually non-existent. At least,  greatly reduced from when I was a young musician starting out. There are very few clubs anymore and the jazz festivals are ending one after the other. If you want to make a living as a musician I would suggest that you work on your reading ability and familiarize yourself with other genres  of music. You can always play jazz on the side, when the opportunity arrives, but to make it strictly as a jazz musican in today’s climate is almost impossible.

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

AV: – I’ve already answered this is the question above. The definitive answer is NO!

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

AV: – The only way is to have them more exposed to it. However, with the international media making all the decisions on what we should listen to, there’s not much chance of that happening.

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

AV: – I try not to think about such philosophical questions. Not sure I would know how to answer this anyway. As far as Coltrane is concerned, I was never really a fan. He was a great improviser and pioneer but his music was never really my cup of tea. Personally I’d rather listen to Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Ammons, Stan Getz, Zoot Simms, or Houston Person. So many saxophonists want to play like Coltrane and they never really get it. My line has always been “Coltrane ruined all the saxophone players”.

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

AV: – I expect, at my age (64) I’ll have a few years left to keep playing. I’ll continue to do so until the carry me away. What brings me fear and anxiety? Donald Trump !!!

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

AV: – Just trying to keep playing and performing the best I can. I have a new CD coming out in  few months for Arbors Records. I hope to keep doing what I do, until I can’t anymore.

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

AV: – Some but I feel jazz is uniquely American music. A marriage of African- American and European cultures that created this art form., that could only of happen where these cultures intermixed.   There  are little forms of music that have developed this way, bipassing racial discord and creating something completely indigenous to American culture. It’s a shame most Americans refuse to recognize this.

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

AV: – Mostly classical music and early to swing jazz. Some be-bop as well, but I’m not a fan of pop music or rap. I’m an old guy!

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

AV: – A VanDoren A-2 crystal mouthpiece and Mitchel Lurie #3 reeds.

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

AV: – Happy Holidays Everyone!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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