May 18, 2024

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Interview with Eduardo Blanco: If we want to know where we are going we have to know where we have been! Video

Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Eduardo Blanco. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Eduardo Blanco: – I grew up in a very small town called Grado in the province of Asturias (north-west, Spain). Although there is not musicians in my family, I always had an inclination towards music, as far as i remember.

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?

EB: – When i was still attending middle school I had a friend one year older than me who was taking  trumpet lessons. One day i asked him if he could bring his trumpet along to my house and play  something for me. From that moment on, little did Iknow , my destiny was going to be altered forever.

Later on, when I was about 15 years oldi read an article in a magazine (Brassbulletinpublished in Switzerland). The article was actually an interview with the renowned jazzmaster trumpet player Claudio Roditi. At the end of the interview were his contact details written down. I did not hesitate one second and wrote him a letter telling him how much I admired his playing and asking him if he had some tips for me about how to become a professional Jazz artist.

Believe it or not he replied to my letter advising me to transcribe the solos of all the jazz masters and encouraging me to follow in his footsteps and move to EE.UU. to study at Berklee college of music in Boston – MA.

Once I turned 20, in 1996, i could make my dreams come true and took that flight to the United States.

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

EB: – It’s funny because i think my sound has always been pretty much the same. I’m talking about the essence of my sound; of course there are some elements in it that had improve during all these years in my career, at least id like to believe that, but the main characteristics in my sound had always been the same.

I think my lip morphology along with my aural conception are the originators of that particular sound of mine, a sound that is warm and welcoming yet with a certain dose of burning intensity.

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

EB: – Actually II do not have any particular exercise or special routine that I like to follow in order to improve my concept of rhythm other than transcribing the masters like Parker, Bud Powell, Monk … ialso spend a big deal of time listening attentive to drummers. My current drummer René De Hilster (a very fine drummer himself) re-introduce me to the world of MASTER Billy Higgins. By listening to Maestro Higgins any uncertainty or mystery or question about rhythm finds its answer in a natural effortless way.

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

EB: – i’ve been always  interested in learning from the “fabric” of this music, learning tunes, learning standards, being able to operate harmonically, which comes from learning the music of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and those in the bebop era 1940+ … In regarding to harmony is just like when you build your vocabulary, you read books and then maybe if you want to be a writer you write your own, you know, you have to have something in which to draw out from.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <Childhood Memories>, how it was formed andwhat you are working on today.

EB: – Childhood Memories is the product of many years of self -reflection and self- analysis. A search into the deepness of my heart and soul. In order to translate all my feelings into the musical world I needed the right team; musicians that were in the same page, so to speak.

Belgian renowned bassist Jean Louis Rassinfosse was a favorite of mine since i started playing trumpet. All those fabulous recordings he made with Chet Baker’s trio made me aware of what a great sensitive musician Mr. Rassinfosse is. His concept of rhythm and harmony is all what any accomplished soloist can wish for.

Dirk Balthaus, an adventurous German pianist which I had been  working now for years was a perfect choice here because of his masterful skills in accompanying and for his magnificent solos that always have one foot in the past, the  other in the present and his  eyes constantly  gazing far into the future.

After years of looking for the best drummer that I could find that would be a good match to my concept of playing I finally found the perfect one. Dutch drummer René De Hilster possesses all the attributes thati was looking for in a drummer, has a total groove concept, an impeccable use of the ride cymbal and plays with a lot intensity but without excessive volume.

Once i recruited the right team, it was just a matter of calling Mr. Max Bolleman, one of the best engineers the jazzworld has known.

…. and so Childhood Memories was born. http://www.eduardoblanco.nl/cd

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

EB: – Definitely “In The Moment” by Johnny O’Neal.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

EB: – It depends on each artists. Now days in the Jazz world I hear mostly something like an 90 per cent in favor of the intellect.

I personally like it more the other way around, for me it is just about emotion and feelings. If these two ingredients are missing, then I am  not really interested in it. That applies to any music genre, not just Jazz per se.

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

EB: – The one that pops to my mind right now is the time when i had just recently moved to Boston. No too far from Berklee college was a jazzclub called Wally’s that as far as i know still exists.

I had recently moved to the big city and I wanted to experience how a real jam session was, so I asked if I could sit in and they let me participate … I started blowing with tightly closed eyes and once I finished my solo i heard that amazing trumpet sound coming from somewhere behind me, when i turned around i could not believe my eyes anymore, It was just Mr. Roy Hargrove in person blowing the roof off. That episode, that i will never forget, helped me reassure me that I was in the right place to be at that particular moment in my live.

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?

EB: – Yes, this is rather a simple yet complex answer: “You take care of the music, the music will take care of you”.

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

EB: – It depends on how you would look at it. Never was, as far as I’m concerned, in entire human history so much money produce by the word “Jazz”. All the music institutions everywhere around the globe, all those “Jazz” festivals …

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

EB: – From all my musical experiences no one like playing with my current quartet, which is called The International Quartet, by the way, because each of us are from different countries (Holland, Belgium, Germany and Spain). Nothing like the reward of playing my own material with a selected team of colleague /friends.

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

EB: – Well, I believe that if they are not really interested in the jazz standards , the so call ‘American Songbook’ then it might be because they are not really interested in this genre, I strongly believe  those standards are the ‘fabric’ of this music and without understanding and assimilating them there is no really a place to go.

I mean, if we want to know where we are going we have to know where we have been!

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

EB: – I believe this earthly world is a place of spiritual training for the soul and spiritual development is the purpose and meaning of life. Humanity is a never ever ending searching and that applies to music a well.

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

EB: – I want to look at it day by day and concentrate in the now as much as possible. Particularly i am currently working hard on getting this album Childhood Memories (International Quartet vol.1) all across the world.

Concerning fear and anxiety about the future I have a funny anecdote i would like to share with the readers.

Once, long ago, I attended a concert ofPaquitoD’Rivera (Cuban clarinetist / saxophonist virtuoso). In between songs he started to crack a few jokes to try to cheer a bit the audience.

One of the jokes said something like this: Which would be the only survivors over the face of the earth if world war III started?

…. after a long pause …

The small rodents and the Jazz musicians.

I think that joke described very well our way of been fearless and always find a way to get through no matter the conditions around us.

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

EB: – That suddenly musicians all over the world stopped at once playing for free (or almost).

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

EB: – The very same I had from the very beginning of my career, get back to the basics, learn how to play harmony, learn how to play time … doing those kind of simple things that are often overlooked because they are so simple that makes you thing that you’ve got “that” but you never get “that” … there is always room for improvement.

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

EB: – Yes, I believe they are, but they are not the same like many “jazz Festival” impresarios want us to believe.

They are like apples and oranges, both fruit, both sweet, they are both the same, but they are not.

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

EB: – Cedar Walton trio, Bud Powell, Tommy Flanagan. i really enjoy listening to pianists …

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

EB: – Early 1940’s, Minston’s playhouse, New York.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself …

EB: – Dear Mr. Sargsyan who/what are you listening to now days?

JBN.S: – Thanks very much for answers. Many jazz and blues musicians: Keith Jarrett, Joe Lovano, Stanley Clarck, Dave Holland, Antonio Sanchez, Terence Blanchard, Paolo Fresu, Tigran Hamasyan, … many … jazz standarts … with you and your music just met I’ll listen to you too. I have your CD: <Childhood Memories>.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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