June 14, 2024


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Interview with Matthias Tschopp: I love it when music touches my soul, but then is also deep and complex: Video

Jazz interview with jazz baritone saxophonist Matthias Tschopp. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Matthias Tschopp: – I grew up in Rapperswil-Jona, a small town near Zurich, Switzerland. As a child, I started playing piano. At the age of 12 I changed to (alto) saxophone. Soon, friends and I founded a school band, so we were hanging around and jamming a lot. Later at highschool there was a big band with a great director. My older brothers already played there, so I wanted to be part of that too. That was also where I got my first baritone (because they had already enough altos, haha).

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument?

MT: – As I mentioned, I startet with piano. Later, I was interested in sax and E-guitar, finally I choose the sax because a friend was playing it too.  But I couldn’t tell you why I wanted to play Sax instead of another instrument. Maybe because it seemed more funky to me…

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today?

MT: – I had a lot of different teachers, and I think that was great for me. I got a lot of inputs and also the sometimes contradictory advices of all those teachers helped me to find my way. During my studies I also played in a lot of different bands and projects, that was interesting too. What was always kind of a home base was big band playing. Being part of a saxophone section and blending and tuning and listening to the other saxophone guys (often older and more experienced than me) was and still is kind of a “check-up” situation for me: does my sound fit? is my tuning good? who plays inspiring solos? how can I do so?

JBN.S: – What made you choose the your musical instrument?

MT: – Why sax, I don’t remember. But I remember very well the first time I played a Baritone. It was at highschool, and I loved it a lot. Still, I stayed with the alto until starting Jazzschool. Then I remarked, that recordings of baritone players inspired me a lot more than alto players. I almost didn’t had alto heroes. I mostly listened to tenor heroes then, but for a reason I don’t know by myself I newer saw me as a tenor player.

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

MT: – I did a lot of different sound exercises, some also from great baritone players like Steffen Schorn, Herwig Gradischnig or Scott Robinson. They were also my teachers for a while. And as I mentioned, big band playing was always a good occasion for me to compare my sound with the tenor and alto players and to ask myself how I wanted to sound. I also listened to a lot of baritone recordings. The huge difference of sounds between for example Pepper Adams and Garry Mulligan or a funky player like Doc Kupka – I still love all those possibilities!

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

MT: – Over the year, a lot of different ones. One that I still think is one of the best for keeping the time going is to practice with a “randomized” metronome: A metronome that doesn’t click all the time, only sometimes, so you have to keep the beat by yourself.

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

MT: – With the baritone its sometimes not so easy to play complex harmonic structures, because the range is lower and I can’t “fly over the cords” like with an alto. Instead I am in the same range as the basic chord. So, thats still a challenge. Composing, I like a lot the modes and chords derived from the melodic minor scale.

Right now, I’m looking for new ideas, maybe no longer to work with paintings, maybe more from another field of art or life…

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

MT: – The last years I didn’t had much time for listening. I got two children, was working a lot both playing and teaching music, so often my ears were full and tired at the end of the day. Maybe thats also a reason why inspiration came from other places, from art, from my kids, from life. But I’m looking forward to have more time to go to concerts and to listen to music in the coming years.

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

MT: – Both can strike me! Maybe soul is more direct, more in the belly. I love it when music touches my soul, but then is also deep and complex. I think thats very difficult to achieve, but thats an important goal for me. It doesn’t work out with every gig or every project I do, but this is definitively something that is important to me, like “in an ideal world”, every concert would be like this.

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

MT: – Hm, nothing relevant for this interview as far as I remember…

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?

MT: – I think to love what you do and to continue working on your projects, even when it sometimes isn’t easy, is important. Reality can be hard: Maybe your musicians have no time for rehearsals, booking effort is big but only a few venues are interested, money problems can cause trouble too… Then you need to be convinced of your plans, you have to love your art and your work.

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

MT: – One of the problems of the music business is, that the musician is the last who sees the money. Involved managers, bookers, labels, agents etcetera get paid first: Often, the musician gets the rest. Same thing with CD sales and streaming. Thats a bit annoying. So if business and money is important to you, maybe another job is better, haha. But I think, if you love being a musician, there are a lot of ways to earn money. Maybe not a lot, but enough for make a living. For sure, it’s good to be flexible and important to work hard.

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

MT: – Well, my quartet members for their challenging approach to my music. They bring a lot of own ideas, are at the same time very enthusiastic and very critic. Working with them, I learned a lot about composition, band leading, music in general.

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

MT: – Actually, in switzerland most of the young jazz players form their bands and play their own music, which I think is very important. Standard tunes were also new and original back then, and part of the energy on the old recordings is because it was fresh and new then. So its important that we create the music of today and for today. Then we will also reach the ears of young people. But there will always also be a public for “half century old standard tunes”, as there will always be a public for punk or grunge or any style of music that has its history and meaning.

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

MT: – I think music is a very direct and beautiful way to your soul and to the spiritual part of life. Words are limited and also a way of abstraction. It’s for example difficult to describe love, but easy to feel it. Music can transport a lot of energy and emotion, its something very physical and spiritual in our quite brainy and digital actuality.

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

MT: – I already have everything I love. I hope I can continue realizing my ideas and dreams, in the fields of music, education and family, which are all very important to me. Politics sometimes make me angry or sad, I wish some people would care more for the future of our children then only for their personal gain.

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

MT: – That the music business puts the interests and needs of the musicians first, not last. When musicians have enough time and financial freedom to work on their art, world becomes a more creative place and we will hear a lot more interesting music.

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

MT: – We will see, there are a lot of plans …

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

MT: – That depends what these words mean to you. To me, the word jazz is almost as open as the term music. I think, in the core all music genres have more in common than that they have differences. Like all human beings have more in common than they differ.

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

MT: – As I wrote, I don’t have much time for listening. I bought a lot of new swiss jazz releases the last years, but I still have to open and listen them …

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

MT: – Conn Ladyface baritone (1950), Berg Larsen mouthpiece (120 SMS 2), Vandoren traditionnal reeds (3,5).

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

MT: – Fifties to Seventies, to go to the concerts of all those cats… What a pity I missed all that!

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

MT: – What is the most important thing for you in life?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. For us, the most important thing in life is decency and sincerity!!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Matthias Tschopp

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