May 29, 2024

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Interview with Antoine L Collins: Music feeds both intellect and the soul: Video

Antoine L Collins

Jazz Interview with jazz singer Antoine L Collins. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Antoine L Collins: – I was born and raised just outside of Chicago in Gary, Indiana. I have always loved music, as a child I used it as a retreat, as a way to deal with the stresses of everyday life.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the jazz vocal?

AC: – I think jazz songs are very lyrical and their lyrics really speak to me. So when I hear songs like “I Put A Spell On You”, “My Funny Valentine” or “When I Fall In Love” I am transported to a very intimate place inside my being.  I have had no real jazz instructor.  I learned jazz vocals by listening and drawing inspiration from the many jazz, blues and soul greats, like: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Chet Baker, Joe Cocker, Tony Bennet, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Mel Torme, Van Morrison, Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr. –the list goes on and on.

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

AC: – I found that my particular musical voice has evolved over the years along with my skill and experience – in fact, my sound is still growing and evolving.  As a young man and throughout university I was always in one choir or another.  After graduation, I put music on hold for a while as I pursued a career as a lawyer.  Later, by chance, I was approached to sing in musical theatre productions, eventually performing in a number of shows, including “Ragtime”, “A Chorus Line”, “RENT’, “Little Shop of Horrors”, and “Hairspray”.  During this period, I was living in Tel Aviv and mentioned to my vocal coach that I wanted to record a jazz album.  He introduced me to a jazz pianist in the city and we started working on my first album “Somewhere Along The Way”. That is how it all began.

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

AC: – For singers, the voice is your instrument, and It needs constant tuning and practice.  I see a vocal coach on a regular basis and, like most singers, I do the usual vocal exercises.

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

AC: – I prefer Jazz harmonies, however, as you probably know, jazz music originated in the African-American communities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The genre ranges from ragtime to present day jazz stylings with a heavy use of improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, swing note, blue notes, brass European harmony and American popular music.  Like the jazz genre itself, which is always developing, my own sound and the way that I tackle a song continue to evolve as I develop my own musical expression.

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

AC: – I really loved Cécile McLorin Salvant – Dreams and Daggers, Diana Krall – Turn up the Quiet and Pink Martini – Je Dis Qui!

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

AC: – Music feeds both intellect and the soul, no matter what genre of music is your preference.  The exact balance is particular to the song that one is interpreting – some have more emotional impact, others are more intellectual in their messages.

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

AC: – I really love playing in intimate venues, because they allow me to have more interactions with the audience.  Smaller venues always allow for strong connections, so I get to know more about them and them me.  That was certainly the case for my first public performance, which was a very positive experience.

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

AC: – That would have to be the duet I recorded with the lovely Rebecca Noelle on my Nature Boy album.  We first sang together in the musical RENT, and she has been such a bright star in helping me maneuver through the complicated music business.  I was really blessed to be able to work with her again on this album and perform my favorite song “My Funny Valentine” together.

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

AC: – These songs have a timeless quality.  But updating their delivery and interpretation can help ensure that younger audiences are able to relate to them, while still remaining respectful to the genre.  We brought in Socalled a rapper out of Montreal to lay down the beats on the “Autumn Leaves” track on Nature Boy transforming the song into an amazingly funky and hip tune that appeals to both younger and traditional audiences.

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

AC: – They are one and the same, aren’t they?  I think that’s why music is often so inspirational –  because it speaks to the spiritual and emotional aspects of life which give meaning to life and make life worth living.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future?

AC: – Big things, I don’t know what they are but I feel the universe is on my side and I am very open to new possibilities and experiences. What brings you fear or anxiety? I think we all have a bit of fear or anxiety when we try something new, I try to overcome it by just doing it.

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

AC: – I would love to see the musical world become a place where everyone who has talent and puts in the hard work required is given the opportunity for a successful career. We still have some way to go.

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

AC: – I am hoping to do a collection of original jazz songs.

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

AC: – They all tell a story!!  They provide meaning and give expression to human feelings and the life experiences that we share as human beings.

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

AC: – These days I am listening to artists like Sachal Vasandani, Jose James and I have started to revisit Al Jarreau.

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

AC: – The Future!! Why re-live the past?

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

AC: – Why do you love jazz?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Jazz is life!!! 

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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