Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if pianist Eric Lensink. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Eric Lensink: – I grew up in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. My father is an amateur singer and pianoplayer, my mother a ballet teacher. There was always classical music in te house, and at parties they would play jazz.
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?
EL: – In my children’s room there was a piano. My pillow would lay against it, and I remember when I was still a very little kid that somehow the piano music I’d hear on the radio, seemed to be made on that big wooden instrument. At the age of 8 my parents send me to music school. It seemed a normal thing to do – I was bad at sports, you know.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
EL: – In my youth they’d only teach you classical piano; no jazz or pop. I was a drop out at music college and started to work as a ballet class pianist. There I made my mileage at the keys, and started to improvise. I also started playing in restaurants – there you’ll learn to play soft, with a gentle touch, so you won’t disturb the conversation too much. And I started singing as well, because I got bored sometimes, playing in the background for hours.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
EL: – I remember, far before YouTube, seeing a bar pianist using his left hand like he was strumming on a guitar, making a nice rhythm pattern. It seems so simple now, but it changed my way of playing completely. It was a real eye opener to me.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
EL: – I’m pretty old fashioned, but in solo’s I like to walk out of the chord scheme now and then, adding an exotic or expressionist touch. Or just something funny…. But I will always return in time, don’t worry.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you this 2017 year?
EL: – I am not good at keeping track of new releases, but I always check Dutch saxophonist Benjamin Herman and his New Cool Collective. Their last release was “Electric Monkey Sessions 2” They are sheer fun with a lot of exotica.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
EL: – I once saw a woman asking “do you play at request ?” to an elder, drunk barpianist. His unintended hilarious answer: “Only when somebody asks for 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?
EL: – Keep your eyes open, and don’t think too narrow. Start teaching, start composing, make yourself heard in every way. Build up that network.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
EL: – My first jazz rhythm section, double bass and drums….coming from pop bands, it was a fantastic experience. I never got over it, fortunately.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
EL: – Haha, I do not see a problem here….the standards now have a classical music status, but the way you can interpret them is endlessly wider.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?Aren’t we all looking for that spirit?
EL: – When one plus one becomes three? When the outcome is more than the input, you’re touching that magic, that spirit, or whatever you want to call it.
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
EL: – Well, there seem to be religious fundamentalists that do not like music in general….I can hardly believe this intolerance against music; it’s such a human thing…
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
EL: – Take out the competition element of music talent shows on tv. Music is not a game.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
EL: – Recording with a rhythm section, I guess….
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
EL: – Can one say that they are all drinking from a same sort of well? Perhaps jazz is more sublimed, more evolved.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
EL: – A lot of old crooner stuff….Al Bowlly, Whispering Jack Smith…..and Thelonious Monk, always ! I have a very broad range of interest…..
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
EL: – I would certainly want to go to the beginning of the crooner era, the 1930’s, when the microphone started to change the music world for singers.
JBN.S: – So far, I ask, please your question to me …
EL: – I don’t know, but do you play an instrument yourself?
JBN.S: – No, unfortunately, I’m only a jazz critic.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan