Jazz interview with jazz pianist Dan Papirany. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Dan Papirany: – I was born in Israel and lived in Tel Aviv, as a teenager I was listening to Genesis with Phil Collins, and soon discovered his other fusion/jazz band Brand X, which drew me to Art music and ended up taking lessons on drums from Israel’s Jazz expert Arale Kaminsky. (For a short time)
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the piano? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the piano?
DP: – I immigrated to New Zealand in 1989 and was studying Drums for a degree, the teacher was a fan of the great Bill Evans and gave me a copy of Bill’s album intuition to play along to, and this album was a Duo album with Eddie Gomez on bass. THE REST IS HISTORY.. LOL. Oh, I have to add that on my 3rd year studies on drums I was already practicing piano more than drums and when Winton Marsalis visited Wellington for a workshop and I was placed as a drummer on one of the combos to assist Winton I decided not to subject Mr. Marsalis to my sad state of drumming. And that was the end of my drumming career. The jazz program coordinator agreed for me to return a few years later majoring on piano, so when I graduated I began teaching and performing. The wonderful teacher Leigh Jackson taught me Jazz piano when I came back few years late, and he himself was a fan of Evans, so the chemistry with Leigh was a healthy one. Leigh’s style of teaching was a no nonsense approach which was what I needed at the time.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
DP: – I practiced hard during Uni (about 8 hrs a day), My approach has been relying heavily on the usage of the upper structure, large intervals in the right hand, and so what voicings which I am still using.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
DP: – This is what I call simultaneous improvisation, it goes like this: at any given moment a note needs to be played (must be harmonically correct) and the rhythm must be subdivided again and again. Eg, take a tune run the 1st chorus with quarter notes, 2nd with 8th notes, 3rd with triplets, 4th with 16th notes etc.. also, have shorter sequences like 8,4,2,1 bars etc.. Other than that I have a practice routine which must be covered every week and that includes exercises in harmonization, modes/scales, chords etc..
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
DP: – So what voices (4ths ) and right hand block chords 6th. They can be used in Ensemble or Solo.
JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2017: <Solo>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
DP: – The latest album is titled Solo and it is the first solo album that I’ve recorded. It was recorded in Tel Aviv last year and it was an opportunity for me to use lots of the harmony devices I’ve been working on in recent years. Today I am working on a second solo album which should be finished this year, I have posted the tunes on youtube and facebook as video files, since I am video tapping the recording sessions. I am hoping to record a new trio album this year as well.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?
DP: – Have been out of the loop in recent years. But I am following Christian McBride on F.B so I am aware of his recent work, and love to hear the samples he is posting from time to time. Oh, love the work of Esperanza Spalding and Kurt Elling.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
DP: – It needs to have both, some artists can have a great balance indeed (Keith Jarrett), but ultimately it’s what makes you feel good about what you do that you should follow.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
DP: – The last trio gig was real fun, at the new and great Jazz Doo Bop bar in Brisbane Australia, it has a great Steinway Piano and great atmosphere. I worked with two great local musicians Andrew Shaw on Bass and Sacha Kloostra on Drums. I should be back there later on this year. There are few video clips on youtube available to view from that gig.
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?
DP: – Keep on going and improve your chops. It was said many times before but that is so important. Oh, if you can afford get a promotion agency to help you get your stuff noticed. I’ve used “The jazz network worldwide” and found Jaijai Jackson to be great.
JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?
DP: – Not now, its dying unfortunately, but maybe one day.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
DP: – Working with great musicians such as members of my trio over the years, the current vocalist whom I am working and recording with Vibeke Voller, and many other talented people I’ve watched performing. Most of all the collaboration with the “International jazz competition” which held annually in Bucharest and I am a member of the judging panel. The level of musician competing from all over the world has been Mind blowing.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
DP: – Standards are wonderful and timeless, that is not the reason. The media is pushing for low or no skilled music that has other components which seems to be more important than the music itself such as, how artists are dressed, what drugs they are taking, who do they sleep with, how much money they are making etc.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
DP: – John Coltrane was very spiritual, not everyone is like that. Charlie Parker wasn’t that spiritual and his music was the ultimate!! If you believe in god (which I am) then, you are conducting yourself according to god’s message. Sometimes it filters into your music, that was the case with Coltrane (one of the most important Jazz artists of all times).
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
DP: – We should see standard of living going up in 3rd world countries, Africa, Asia etc. My fear is that my country of birth Israel and the USA will be torn apart as a result of political divide. Especially the USA, they must remain strong to keep several mad men at bay.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
DP: – Sometimes in the music business it’s who you know, not what you can do, that would be a good place to start.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
DP: – Getting more gigs!!
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
DP: – There are some borrowings from either side that can be used effectively; having said that, I am a traditionalist so will stick with pure Jazz.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
DP: – Joao Gilberto (a lot!! … my family will disown my if I carry on with my addiction to J.G).
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
DP: – Would love to see the future, Marty McFly. Would be keen on a trip to Mars and back within a day.. oh wait, it’s the future so let’s visit other galaxies.. What the heck..
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself …
DP: – I am good, and thank you so much for the interview.
JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan