May 23, 2024

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Interview with George Kahn: 2017 was my best year ever creatively, both with live gigs and recording: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist George Kahn. An interview by email in writing.

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

George Kahn: – I grew up in New Rochelle NY. Started studying piano when I was 9.  I did not really get interested in music until Jr. High School when I began studying with a piano teacher that also taught Theory and Composition.  I loved writing music more than practicing piano.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument?

GK: – I chose piano because there was one in my home growing up.  My parents were very supportive of the arts in general. In High School I started going to an after-school Music Program where I met Mr. Edwards, who taught composition and music history.  He turned me on to Stravinsky, and Charles Ives. I never looked back.  In college I received a BA in Music Composition, with Honors, from Brandeis University.  I studied with Martin Boykan there.  No jazz studies – I taught myself jazz.

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

GK: – A lot of listening, a lot of playing.  Jerry Coker’s jazz method books.  Then I spent 5 years studying privately in Hollywood with Lyle “Spud” Murphy and his Equal Interval System.

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

GK: – Lots of scales and arpeggios, finger-strengthening exercises.  Again, a lot of listening to get the sense of phrasing and swing

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

GK: – I am a big fan of Quartal harmonies.  And 2-5 patterns that don’t end up on 1.

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JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <STRAIGHT AHEAD>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album? 

GK: – I love the band!  Lyman and Alex are the best, and the joy comes through in the music.

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

GK: – Wes and Wynton Smokin in Seattle, Jason Moran, Bill Evans – Some Other Time, Vijay Iver Sextet Far From Over, Kamasi Washington, Harmony of Difference.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

GK: – Probably my favorite memory is playing with Billy Higgins on my first album, Out Of Time.  Billy had the biggest ears in the world – no rehearsal, one run through and one take on almost every track and he played it perfectly.  Sorry that he is gone.

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?

GK: – Learn the Business of Music.  Learn a skill outside of the music industry that can serve you in your life.

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

GK: – Good question.  Next?

JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?

GK: – My work with Brian Bromberg and Eric Marienthal, as well as Bobby Rodriguez.  Being involved in the Los Angeles jazz scene.

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

GK: – The answer is obvious – to expand the jazz palette by adding current songs, current beats, current technology, like Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington.

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

GK: – This is a long answer. Read my book The Pursuit of Passion

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

GK: – 2017 was my best year ever creatively, both with live gigs and recording.  I am looking forward to 2018 and expect it to be even better.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

GK: – The society would value musicians the way they value computer programmers

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

GK: – Promoting the new album.

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

GK: – Of course, it all stems from The Blues.

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

GK: – Bill Evans, P-Funk, James Brown, Etta James.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

GK: – I’d want to go back to 52nd ST in NYC when it was totally hopping and just run from club to club all night, listening to jazz.

JBN.S: – So far, I ask, please your question to me …

GK: – Would you do a review of my new album is I send you a copy?

JBN.S: – Of course, all under the plan we will make.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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