May 28, 2024

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Interview with Perry Smith: Intellect can inform your soul: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Perry Smith. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Perry Smith: – I grew up in San Francisco, California and I got interested in music because my Dad had a guitar around the house and my family loved listening to music. I was also fortunate to have good music teachers at the public schools I attended.

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?

PS: – I was drawn to guitar because it seemed so cool. I idealized Santana, Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan. When a local teacher introduced me to Jazz and I was immediately drawn to the idea of improvising and the swing feel. Over the years, there have been a lot of teachers who helped me progress. My high school band director Mark Peabody, my college guitar teachers: Joe Diorio, Pat Kelley, Frank Potenza and all the music teachers at USC’s Thornton School of Music. I’ve also studied with other jazz musicians including: George Garzone, Kenny Werner, Ralph Alessi, Tony Moreno, John Clayton and John Scofield. They’ve all helped me progress and been a huge source of inspiration.

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

PS: – Over time, my sound has evolved to become more clear and resonate. I developed my sound through a lot of recording, critical listening, and experimenting. I always wanted the sound to be warm and fat, but not muddy. It’s hard to strike that balance with a jazz guitar, especially at louder volumes. Beyond the amp, there are a lot of additional elements that go into your sound. The action of your strings, exactly where you picked the string, the type of guitar pick, your left hand technique and your touch on the right hand. Once I really established those elements, I realized my sound.

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

PS: – I practice a lot to keep my hands loose. I do the Segovia Scales, Chromatic Scales, and lots of arpeggios. I also practice a lot with a metronome and phrasing with different rhythmic subdivisions at various tempos. Rhythm is the core element in jazz. I find that recording my practicing and listening back helps me identify where I need more work. I also play drums and piano which helps train your rhythmic feel.

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

PS: – I don’t really have a preference on harmonies or patterns. I like such a wide variety of things it’s impossible to have a favorite.

JBN.S: – How it was formed and what you are working on today?

PS: – The band was formed through different experiences playing with each musician in New York City. Many of those moments happened around my weekly gig in Brooklyn, the Nest Session. I had been writing a lot for this format and I knew these players would be a great fit. Today I continue to work and perform with my Quintet. I also have a couple different trios and do a lot of work as a sideman, collaborator and teacher.

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

PS: – I leave this questions to the critics …

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

PS: – I think intellect can inform your soul. But music should come 100% from your soul.

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

PS: – One time while playing an outdoor concert in Germany, a garbage truck pulled up in front of the stage and started emptying public portable toilets. That was pretty funny!

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?

PS: – My advice is focus on the music. There are a lot of distractions and it’s easy to get caught up in a popularity contest. Keep your focus on the music and your respecting your fellow musicians. With hard work, dedication and persistence you can build a rewarding career. It’s not an easy road, but nothing worth doing was ever easy.

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

PS: – Jazz is strange business. It’s dependent on aspiring musicians making heavy financial investments. Everything from education to building a band and a performing career. It can eventually pay off, but it’s a big investment in time, effort and money for a lot of years. Until our society can successfully monetize music for the people creating it, I don’t see the business changing. It’s difficult in that regard so you have to be resourceful as an independent musician.

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

PS: – Certainly my work with the New West Guitar Group. John Storie and I founded that band about 15 years and I’ve learned a lot about the guitar and the music business through that band. Furthermore, I’ve collaborated a lot with fellow musicians such as: drummer Dan Schnelle (LA), vocalist Kathleen Grace (LA), bassist Sam Minaie (NY) and bassist Matt Aronoff (NY). They’ve all resulted in important experiences.

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

PS: – I think it’s important to play more current material. I have a trio called No Biggity and we perform instrumental covers of hit songs from the 90s. It attracts a younger and more widespread audience.

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

PS: – I don’t know the meaning of life. However, music is spiritual for me.

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

PS: – I hope to perform and write and record more of my own music. I get anxiety and fear around people who voted for Donald Trump. It’s really shameful that so many Americans would vote for such a terrible leader.

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

PS: – If I could change one thing, it would be that people have to buy albums to hear music again. The whole idea of streaming ALL music for a small yearly subscription is insane. It completely devalues the work we do as creators and results in extremely high ticket prices to shows. Plus, it destroys the art of making an album; which is a much greater artistic achievement than making one song.

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

PS: – I’d like to focus more on my Quintet and my original writing. I’d like to perform more in Europe and bring my music to a larger audience.

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

PS: – Absolutely. Jazz is an extension of the Blues which, at its core, is folk music.

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

PS: – I listen to a lot of older Vinyl albums. I like a lot of old school R&B from the 60s and 70s. I also love classic rock and of course anything jazz related.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

PS: – Gibson ES-175 (1998), D’addario 12s (nickel wound),  Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer, TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb, Line 6 DL 4, Henriksen Jazz Amp 310.

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

PS: – 1940s and 50s, New York City. Bebop!

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

PS: – Which album by Wes Montgomery is your favorite and why?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Perry Smith jazz guitarist

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