May 27, 2024

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Interview with Ratko Zjaca: Music is just a reflection of your mind and soul, and also your way of life: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist, composer Ratko Zjaca. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Ratko Zjaca: – I grew up in Zagreb, Croatia. Guitar from my older brother.

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?

RZ: – I started playing classical guitar, but very soon I heard people like Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck and they blew my mind later Ornette Coleman ,Coltrane ,Joe Pass .John mclaughlin  and I decided to be more serious about playing guitar. I had many teachers, at music school and the conservatory.

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

RZ: – Music is the universal  language, you need to first start imitating, as I did in the beginning, from my teachers and from great players from records. Later you go through the process of assimilation and start to edit your own thing, and in the end you go to a phase of creativity, where you play what you really hear in your own ears, and you play in your own way.

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

RZ: – My routine is playing songs – I like to practice songs, because all theoretical information about melody, harmony and rhythm come together in compositions. I use the Indian system Konnakol and Indian Talas to help me go deeper to study rhythm.

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

RZ: – I’m not a pattern player. I always try to play with motives, and make a story. But, of course, as a student you need to study patterns to learn the language.

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

RZ: – It’s a difficult question, but one of my favorites is Chris Potter’s last album on ECM.

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

RZ: – Music is just a reflection of your mind and soul, and also your way of life. The way I feel about it, is if you have a boring life, you’ll have boring music – if you have an interesting life, you’ll have interesting music. That’s why I always like to travel, to read literature, to go to museums, theaters, cinema and be around interesting people. But, of course, music also asks a lot of dedication and discipline, and love.

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

RZ: – A great memory two years ago when we recorded an album in New York City with John Patitucci and Adam Nussbaum, we just started to play and after four hours we finished recording the complete record, and our record company had reserved the studio for two days. It was so easy and natural. The rest of the day we went to a local restaurant and had a nice dinner.

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? 

RZ: – Play with the right people, who can make you sound good, and play with people who you can really trust to be with you. Have a vision where you want to go and work on this.

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

RZ: – Yes, it can definitely be business, but for me it is always love first and passion, hard work and having a great group.

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

RZ: – I have many of them. First my New York trio record with Reggie Workman and Al Foster, later John Pattitucci and Al Foster, and John Pattitucci and Steve Gadd. Absolutely incredible experiences playing and traveling with Miroslav Vitous, and playing with my regular band with an incredible accordion player, Simone Zanchini and great drummer Adam Nussbaum.Last recording with Antonio Sanchez,Renato Chicco and Stefano Bedetti.

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

RZ: – It doesn’t matter how old the songs are, it’s about which kind of emotional and intellectual impact they have on you as a musician and as a person. You need to learn the history of music, so you need to go back anyway. I have many students who want to play like Kurt Rosenwinkel, which is OK, but I always tell them they also need to know how many generations before sounded, like Charlie Christian, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, John McLaughlin and learn also about the other arts like painting , literature , cinema etcetera

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

RZ: – Doing what you love, every day when you wake up until you go to bed, and always be in the present.

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

RZ: – Writing new compositions and playing with great musicians.

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

RZ: – More clubs and festivals, so that musicians will have more opportunities to play live.

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

RZ: – Absolutely. Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
Great Russian classical composers – Stravinsky, Schostakovic, Ali Akhbar Khan (a great Indian sarod master), Keith Jarrett, Arvo Pärt, Elliot Carter, Thelonious Monk etcetera.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

RZ: – Chris Mirabella custom built guitars, Henriksen jazz amp.

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

RZ: – I’m happy where I am, I never have this desire! I’m living in the present.

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

RZ: – Maybe you can tell me more about music in your country.

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I almost live around the world: Boston – USA, Paris – France, Prague – Czech Republic and Yerevan – Armenia.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Ratko Zjaca

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