May 19, 2024

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Interview with Jeff  Platz: I don’t listen to much of the new music that’s coming out the last few years: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Jeff  Platz. An interview by email in writing.

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

Jeff Platz: – I grew up in Cleveland Ohio, mainly listening to Motown music, Detroit being just across Lake Erie. I also had a pretty extensive country western household, Johnny Cash, George Jones etc. Of course I was majorly influenced by rock and roll in that time period, mid 60’s, Stones, Beatles and all of that.

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

JP: – Probably the rock and roll groups of the mid 60’s. Also I recall going into a music shop during that period, 1965, 66.  I was completely taken by the guitar as a visual object.  Actually all of the instruments, they seemed so foreign, so strangely fascinating.

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

JP: – My first teachers were mainly rock guys, teaching you the chords to the popular songs you were interested in playing.  It wasn’t until high school that I was made aware of the actual nomenclature of the guitar, scales, arpeggios etc.  This was the beginning of more jazz related studies and  interest in actual guitar techniques.

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

JP: – I started out playing acoustic guitar. I had no real knowledge of how the electric guitar worked and wasn’t really interested in it.  Eventually I  purchased my first electric guitar, a Univox, strat copy and borrowed a Fender twin reverb amp from a friend.  That was a blessing to say the least and my first introduction to the power and dynamic possibilities behind the electric guitar.

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

JP: – After twenty plus years of playing, studying with various people, school etc. I’m mainly focused on individual technique. I practice freely which basically means I work on dexterity and continuity on the fretboard for the most part.  Sometimes I work on actual scale patterns but mostly these days I try and reconfigure scale systems, blend different scale patterns together in a way that helps me play more freely and less consciously.  When one is playing either solo or with others the most interesting improvisations come of course from spontaneous reaction and referral to one’s individual vocabulary or voice.  The more in depth the vocabulary the more interesting the solo and the less obstructed the thinking in that moment by scale systems theory etc. the more human and interesting the performance!

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

JP: – I might have just touched on this with my last answer to practice exercises? In my daily practice routine I will focus more on playing in and around a particular designated key but always with the idea of working more against it or around it  as opposed to catering to it by staying inside the given keys parameters or acceptable boundaries which can sound very flat and uninteresting in my opinion.

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JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2017: <Neu Cabal>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album?

JP: – The group on Neu Cabal is what I love most about the album. Both Dmitry Ishenko and Dalius Naujokaitis are amazingly original players on the New York scene. Of course Daniel Carter is a national treasure! Daniel has appeared on more recordings than I can count and is a household word in the world of modern and free  jazz internationally.  I always learn something different each time I play with Daniel. If you ever have the opportunity to see Daniel; live I highly recommend it!

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

JP: – I’m sorry to say that I don’t listen to much of the new music that’s coming out the last few years, as far as new albums go. I did recently here Tomasz Stankos latest CD, December Avenue which is really beautiful.  I highly recommend it!

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?

JP: – This is a very personal and involved question at this point in my life. Without getting into to many details I think it’s important to always be reminding yourself of what brought you to music to begin with.  What beautiful moments made you decide to pursue your instrument, how did it originally make you feel to start playing, to start developing as a player, when did the possibilities as a player start to come into view.  The pursuit of playing, making opportunities for yourself, groups, gigs all of that can become very difficult and frustrating, especially if your aim is modern or improvised music.  I believe that we are here as musicians to provide a service, spiritually speaking.  Money, popularity, recognition are all huge distractions and can lead to very negative thinking and basically shit music and a clouded perspective of what creating music is all about.

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

JP: – No, jazz is from a time long ago and it wasn’t easy for those early players either. Influence and study of those influences is great but it’s all about creating your own voice and creating a new arena for modern instrumental music.  I doubt it will ever be a money maker for those creating it.

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

JP: – I really have no idea!

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

JP: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?A: I will continue playing internationally and recording my groups whenever possible, that’s my life and what brings me the most joy and feelings of success.  I love a new project! I have something here in the States I’m currently working on, a trio, there’s also an ensemble in Germany with the great drummer Jorg Fischer I’ll be involved with in the spring.

Happy New Year 2018 !!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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