May 27, 2024

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Interview with Duane Eubanks: I would love to see more Love between the musicians … Video

Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Duane Eubanks. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Duane Eubanks: – I grew in Philadelphia, PA.. It has always had an extremely rich and vibrant musical scene across all genres. It was easy to be inspired by the many musicians that were there and those that came before me. The Philly musician legacy is a long and powerful line.

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

DE: – My brother Kevin played trumpet when he was young, I inherited his old instrument. I was inspired and encouraged to play by my family’s love and musical talent. Public schools in Philadelphia were well supported when I was growing up so I was in a good musical environment in Middle School.  I had an incredible music teacher, Eleanor Alter, she loved music and loved to teach. We had the most talented band in our district for many years because of her. My jazz roots and current concepts were solidified by years of study with famed trumpeter, Johnny Coles. He showed me everything I needed to develop as a jazz trumpeter.

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

DE: – I think I’ve always had a sound in mind… Johnny Coles was very influential in me being conscious of developing my own thing. I think my sound continues to develop but my aim is warm and dark. I’m hearing a flugel-like sound on trumpet. I continue to develop that by consistently practicing technique and intense listening to myself and all trumpet players, young, old, and especially those that have left this realm of existence and left so much information and concepts for us to check out.

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

DE: – Lately,  I primarily have been working on technical aspects of the trumpet.  I have developed a routine which incorporates Long Tones, Lip Slurs, a lot of flexibility exercises, then tonguing exercises from the bottom of the horn to the upper register. All the time, focusing on the evenness of tone, sound, and volume throughout all of the exercises. To keep things interesting rhythmically, I play my exercises in different meters. For instance, instead of 2 4 beat phrases, I may do one bar for 3 beats. This would make the exercises in 7 and bring about a natural way of feeling different time meters.

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

DE: – Harmonically, I am always trying to hear something different… I think everything has already been played, so I think it’s about how you approach things musically and phrase your ideas. That’s when individuality comes through. I have been dealing with various Pentatonic patterns and experimenting with how to interchange them to hear something different and interesting that may become stylistically personalized.

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

DE: – I like Gerald Cannon’s latest release Combinations…. Jason Moran. & Bandwagon Live at the Vanguard…. Eric Revis, Sing Me Some Cry.

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

DE: – I remember performing with an all star group (random well knowns put together to form a group). After the first set, I look up and Freddie Hubbard is there.. I was excited and frightened.. a few years later, I’m doing a 3 trumpet gig with legends Curtis Fuller (Trombone), Louis Hayes (Drums),  and John Hicks (Piano). On the break, us trumpet players look up and see Freddie Hubbard. I felt a little better because he actually knew my name but it’s hard to feel totally comfortable with someone that influential listening to you.  The point is…. you never know who is in the audience listening!!! You have to always be conscious of playing your best. Something I am still learning to this day.

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?

DE: – The last answer is very good sound advice. Always aim to play at the best of your ability, you never know who is listening. The best advice I can give is to love the music and love trying to present it on a high level. .. but first, realize Jazz music is Spiritual in its essence.  As musicians,  we have a role to play in society…. we are here to move people emotionally, with the intent to enlighten and heal.  We should play our instruments with that in mind. If you’re in it for fame, money, and egotistical reasons, you’re  in it for all of the wrong reasons. I would also stress keeping your ego in check!!! Always remain humble.. Anyone from anywhere can show you how much you don’t know, on any given night. In music, all inflated egos eventually have their deflating moments. Some learn from it, some don’t. Somewhere, there is someone working on their art, at this very moment. It may be that someone to teach you a lesson in humility.

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

DE: – Jazz is a business.. if it wasn’t, the musicians would not have the monetary issues that we face. First, we need to rid ourselves of that kind of mentality. We have to see ourselves and the music as being abundantly accepted. The model has changed in recent years. The “record label” model is not prevalent as it was in the past. Now, it is up to musicians to market, record, promote, and book gigs themselves. So, it is a business that you have to be hands on and take control of your own destiny.  Musicians today have to take responsibility of their careers and how they wish to be perceived and accepted by consumers.

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

DE: – The most important collaborations are those where I learn how to one day run and manage my own band on the bandstand. I learned the most from Elvin Jones, Dave Holland Big Band, and Mulgrew Miller… Through these guys, I was able to witness and experience what a good bandleader expects of his band and how he gets them in a situation to create on a high level.

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

DE: – Young people need to be exposed to the music. They need to be educated on its origins, the people that helped shape and mold its foundation and the musicians that work at keeping it respectfully received. I think it’s all about properly educating them and allowing them to see the potential it offers for individual perspective. The standard tunes are old but have a lot of potential for present day interpretation. Just like the adults who listen, young people need to challenge themselves to be open to receive the message(s) being sent through the music. I think if our government gave the music the proper support, it would be widely received giving it and the musicians that perform it, a wider audience and give the people in general, a broader perspective.

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

DE: – I understand that Music is spirit. As musicians, we are blessed to share the messages of the Soiritual Universe.  The strongest and most influential musicians understand this concept and embrace the opportunity to share their art for the good of humanity.

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

DE: – My future expectations include a positive outlook in the jazz world. I see myself in a broader space musically, with different and new collaborations. I also see myself taking on the responsibility of teaching and educating more people about the endless possibilities of the Music…. what brings me anxiety is the never ending process of establishing myself as a working musician. It’s an extremely humbling experience. It’s a big deal to take on the responsibility of performing this music on a level that encompasses the ideologies of the greats that gave their lives for the advancement and understanding of the art form.

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

DE: – I would love to see a few things as reality. For one, I would love for the elders to be respected for their contributions to music and be sought after for their knowledge and experiences. This would give the music and musicians of today a much stronger foundation and broader understanding of what it takes and means to actually be a musician.

I would love to see more Love between the musicians.. In this tough musical climate, we need to support each other as much as possible. We have the power to make ourselves as relevant as we wish, but it would take a unified effort to make it a strong statement. I would also love for society to understand what it takes to play this music that I love. How much dedication, hours of practice, and sacrifice, it takes to play music on any level. In a nutshell, a broader understanding and respect for the musical artform by society and the musicians as well.

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

DE: – Next on the horizon for me is harder work to rid myself of musical boundaries…. I am looking to associate myself and document music that incorporates Free thinking and open interpretation. To me, that is the real essence of playing music. In this essence, you rely upon your own ability and trust those that musicians that enter this realm with you. Then is when Real music occurs!

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

DE: – I believe jazz is folk music. The music relies on the cultural nurturing of its concepts to be passed on from generation to generation.

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

I’ve always been an avid listener… I remain loyal to the masters…. I’ve been  listening to a lot of Lee Morgan lately. Also Kenny Dorham and Woody Shawe… Lee dominates my listening time.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

DE: – I’ve played Yamaha horns since my first student model passed on by my brother Kevin. I currently play Yamaha YTR 8310Z Bobby Shew Custom horn. My mouthpiece is a Woody Shaw custom made by Greg Black. I also use a wooden sleeve to increase a better feel made by Josh Landress at

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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