May 23, 2024

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Interview with Mark Weinstein: Jazz has become academic music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz fluteist Mark Weinstein. An interview by email in writing.

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

Mark Weinstein: – I come from a musical family. My older brother was a trombone player and my uncle a klezmer trumpet player. My father played violin and harmonica. We always had a piano in my house and I started piano lessons at 6 years old. I became serious about music at 14 when I was given a trombone in Erasmus Hall high school in Brooklyn.

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

MW: – I was a professional trombone player until I became serious about doctoral studies in Philosophy. I stopped playing when I as about 30 and was having trouble writing my dissertation, so I started to play flute at age 34 to give myself relaxation from my logical studies.

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

MW: – I am basically self-taught. I picked the flute because I didn’t want to make a living as a musician so I picked an instrument that made getting work more difficult than, say, playing the saxophone. Plus, the flute was quiet so I could practice outdoors and at conferences as my academic career took off.

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

MW: – Because I was self-taught and had a trombone players embouchure I never developed the standard classical sound that most flute players have. I went to a few teachers who helped me with basic practice strategies, but my sound is quote unique, harder and dryer than almost every other jazz flutist.

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

MW: – I played with a portable metronome, hearing the beats on 2 And 4, and freely improvising. I played scales every day, intervals and chords.

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

MW: – I basically see all scales as modifications of the major scale and think in terms of tonal centers. I use a lot of chromatic substitutions and poly-tonality in my soloing.

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?

MW: – Don’t play the flute. Every sax play can play flute, so playing flute is a recipe to needing a day job. I have a good one, as a college professor.

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

MW: – All of the jazz musicians I know teach in jazz programs to augment their performance income. Jazz has become academic music, beginning as early as middle school.

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

MW: – The standard tunes are basic patterns for improvisation, they are like the classical repertoire, everyone needs to learn to play them.

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

MW: – My happiest times were in the recording studio, when I had complete control of the sound and the leisure to perfect my music. My college professor’s salary paid for musicians and studio time and I spent every penny I had to make a body of work, 19 albums in 20 years.

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

MW: – I started recording at age 56. I am 77 years old and my playing is now focused on playing Jewish religious music for myself and my community.

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

MW: – Being able to continue playing the flute is enough for me. There are now a number of amazing young jazz flute players and I hope my recordings are an inspiration to them.

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

MW: – Jazz has an affinity with all sorts of music. If I am reincarnated I want to be a Bulgarian clarinet player.

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

MW: – Whatever catchers my attention on facebook.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

MW: – I have a Powell concert flute, a Sankya alto flute and Yamaha bass flute.

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

MW: – Thank you for your interest in my music and All the Best for the New Year.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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