Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if vocalist Sarah Lancman. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Sarah Lancman: – I’m born in the center of Paris, close to the Louver called châtelet-les-halles, a popular and historic area. My parents used to listen a lot of music at home, especially Jazz. Since then, I feel always in a safe place when I’m listening to Jazz.
I began the conservatory of Paris in classical piano at 7, and I had my diploma at 17. I had my diploma later at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne in jazz piano also at 23.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the jazz vocal?
SL: – I always love to sing but when I was 8, I had a problem on my vocal chords called called «Nodules», it is a current vocal disease. I had to do some reeducation since 12. I think that it left me a kind of veil on the voice. Sometimes bad things happen in your life but you understand later that it was for your own good because this «veil on the voice» became my vocal identity.
I had two great sing teacher that really helped me to grew up:
Veronique Perrault, a French teacher. She was also a singer for famous bands and French singer as Florent Pagny, Patricia kaas, Julien Clerc… She had a special technic linked to the yoga and she helped me to go beyond my limits.
There was also Marc Thomas. The great and only French crooner. He was named «the king of the French scat». He was also a great saxophonist. He used to play with the Claude Bolling orchestra, Michele Hendrix,…
I used to take lessons at his place, and it was an amazing moment everytime.
He used to pick up a song as «salt peanuts» of Charlie Parker, and he recorded his improvisation. He asked me to transcribe Charlie parker’s solo and his solo for the next week. The next week, I came back and I sing it for him and he was impressed : «wow, I did it ?! Really! I don’t remember !». He was really funny, he had this great jazz attitude, this way of life … I used to call him « tonton » which means a nickname for «uncle» in French. Unfortunately he passed away in 2015, the day I had to record my album «Inspiring Love » in New York. For one year later, I used to dedicate him my last song for each concert, his favorite «The Good Life».
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
SL: – This is a real interesting question…I try to listen to what I’ve recorded and noticed what points and moments I need to developp. I’m taking also technical vocal lessons also with a classical teacher and I will meet also a new one who is specialized in Estill voice method.
I need also to listen all the time to other singers, to transcribe musicians solo to increase my vocabulary in improvisation. We are like athlete, we need to train us everyday, and to nourish our sound not only with music, but with paintings, books, movies,…
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
SL: – I do a 30 min vocal routine with really basic exercices to warm up my voice. Then I pick up a song of the real book, and I try to work on different phrasing, slow to up tempo. Because I’m also a pianist, I like to accompany myself, and do sometimes only the bass line on the left hand and work on vocal improvisation.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
SL: – I’m a real big fan of Bill Evans and his voicing. I love the major chord with the 5 augmented, this is such a chord filled with emotions.
JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <A contretemps>, how it was formed andwhat you are working on today.
SL: – The thing that I love most in this album is the fact that I really want to write in French. For me, it was a real challenge to show that French can swing.
This was an incredible adventure because we came from all over the world to record this album in Thailand. We were from Paris with the pianist Giovanni Mirabassi, Gianluca Renzi ( the bass player ) was Italian but from New York, Gene Jackson ( who used to be apart of the Herbie Hancock trio for years ) is American but now is living int Tokyo, ect… it was incredible and powerful because each one has his speciality, his unique talent and together we felt like an unbreaking circle, with the only wish to do something together.
When we were in Thailand for the recording session, we were around the table for dinner, we realized that we were 11, like in the movie « Ocean Eleven ». We decided with Giovanni Mirabassi to create a music label, production called « Jazz Eleven ».
I’m thinking about the next album because I’m supposed to record it next September and it will be released in 2019 for my 30th birthday.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you 2017 year?
SL: – I’ve to confess that I’m mostly listenning to old records, this is mostly my inspiration, last year was a special year and I didn’t listen to new upcoming albums because when I’m writing I try to not listen too much to other music because after that everything is confused in my head. This attitude could be weird, but when I’m writing I need to be surrounded by silence. I used to listen only « Live in Germany » by Giovanni Mirabassi.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
SL: – Last November, we were in Romania for the Ploiesti Jazz Festival and at the end of the concert there was a standing ovation… it was my first time and it was really powerfull.
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?
SL: – I’ve realized that the secret of success if the persistance, we used to see only the victory but we didn’t see all the failures that we need to live before and it is necessary, this is the part of the process. I believe that Life is perfect in a certain way, sometimes things happens, and if it doesn’t, it can means that it is not the right moment, but it doesn’t mean that it will never happen. We need to be confident, and to go on whatever happens.
My mother told me recently that to get a rocket off the ground, 2/3 of the rocket is only useful for take-off. it is all the energy that must be put in your dreams and your project.
JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?
SL: – Nowadays, to live from your music is difficult, you need to develop all your possibilities. That’s why we want to create our new label, to create a new economy, a new way of life and help other musician to live from music.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
SL: – The meeting with Giovanni Mirabassi is the most important collaboration of my Life.
I used to admire his work, and we met by chance in Montmartre, on a jazz cafe one night. He came back from a tour in Japan and I’ve just recorded my first album.
I gave him the album and later he gave me a appointment and he told me: «between us, we recognize each other, as brothers».
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
SL: – I think that Jazz is an attitude, a sound, it can be very interesting to show that every music like Edd Sheran, or Shakira, or I don’t know Rihanna can be work as jazz standard. It is a question of harmony, of what you can do with it, how you can reap propriet a song. Music has to be authentic and if it is, I believe that it is not a question of age anymore.
I’m great fan of Amy Winehouse, and there is a lot of Jazz in her way to sing. It inspire me a lot.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
SL: – For me, i understand the Spirit as a guide, something that leads you somewhere and show you your own way. It was his meaning of life, what he was made of, his mission giving music to the world. Everybody has his own spirit, the question is to define it and to follow your dreams.
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
SL: – I expect to beyond my limits, to discover other possibilities in my voice.
My fear is to always be sure to give the best of myself into my music at that moment. When I’m finishing to write a song, I’m always afraid to not succeed to write another one, because I feel really empty after that, I feel to have put all I wanted to say and I’m always afraid to lost this sensation.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
SL: – I would erase the «playback», when people seems to sing on stage or on TV and they don’t.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
SL: – The only frontier is what we impose to ourselves, so they don’t really exist.
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
SL: – Yes, the music is the common root:)
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
SL: – I’m listening to Michel Petrucciani, old Italian songs with the singer Mina, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Aznavour …
JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?
SL: – I’m not sure to have well understand the question 🙂 I use the AT5400 Audio technical mic, and I like to have one a little bit of reverb.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
SL: – I wanna come back at the time of the 50’s, 60’s, I want to meet Bill Evans, to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Julie London, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Wilson…
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself …
SL: – Are you happy with all my answers ? 🙂
JBN.S: – Thanks very much !!!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan