May 28, 2024

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Interview with Lao Tizer: For me, soul comes first: Video

Jazz interview with jazz bandleader and keyboardist Lao Tizer. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Lao Tizer: – I was born in Boulder, CO and raised both in Boulder, and outside the beautiful, small mountain town of Salida, CO for five years as a small child..  I grew up in a house that listened to a lot of music, especially a lot of classical, world music and early rock ‘n roll (the music of my parents generation), so I was fed a diverse diet of musical flavors…

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?

LT: – My parents actually got a piano for my older sister Nadja when I was 5 years old, but I was the one who took interest in it.  I used to just make stuff up, improvising, etc..  I was definitely fascinated by the instrument!  Eventually they finally got me proper piano lessons when I was 9, and the rest is history!

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

LT: – I grew playing classical piano and improvising a lot of my own music.  I composed some pieces for my middle-schools production of a couple of Shakespeare plays, etc..  I didn’t really discover jazz till I was 16!  First jazz record that really opened my ears and eyes to it was Miles Davis & Quincy Jones Live @ Montreaux..  I started to explore more and more after that!

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

LT: – Great question!  My early career was mostly performing as a solo pianist, so I had great freedom regarding rhythmic interpretation and expression.  When I first started my band, that was the biggest challenge for me, learning to play in an ensemble to develop a feel for time, pocket, etc..  It really is a lifelong journey to find the sweet spot!  My daily practice routine generally is a couple of hours, time permitting, some standards, some originals, always some technique..  Of course this varies depending on the tour schedule, etc!

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

LT: – Well, something I’ve really enjoyed exploring and experimenting with various dominant suss chords in recent years..  Especially the versatility that a sus 13 voicing provides, to meander between major and minor ideas, pushing and pulling with tension and harmony..

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

LT: – Great question!  I think that varies depending on the artist and musician, for me, soul comes first..  A new idea has to really speak to me as something worthy, before I start to take it into the intellectual and start to craft that idea into a composition.. I try to let melody guide me, if I can sing it over and over again, then I know that can happen for the audience too!

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

LT: – Well the sessions for Songs From The Swinghouse were just so magical an fun.  Conway Studios is a gorgeous venue, nestled in Hollywood, but the grounds are full of beautiful gardens and flowers, and you feel like you’re at a retreat!  The end of the first day, we were tracking “16th Heaven,” which is definitely the trickiest tune on the project, and suddenly the entire studio had a brown-out!  That was unexpected, and a bit of a challenge, but the engineers sorted it out in a hour and we got back to work..  It was kind surreal to be in the middle of LA in this legendary studio and lose power?!?  Just gotta roll with the punches as they say..

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

LT: – Many, but my 20 year friendship and collaboration with guitarist Chieli Minucci definitely stands out as one of the most significant in pushing my growth as both a musician, composer, bandleader and person..  I met Chieli when I was 18 and oh so green, so to now work together in my group and in his, Special EFX, is really gratifying on personal and professional levels..  I’m fortunate to keep amazing company on this musical journey!

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

LT: – I think the key is to see jazz live!  I’ve seen this over and over again, it’s really a live art form first and foremost, many people have ideas and attitudes about what “jazz” is, and truthfully, that terms means different things to different people..  But the constant is that a truly great jazz show with the musical and energetic conversation that transpires, I believe is something that anyone, of any age can connect with and be inspired by!  It’s important to allow young people who want to play jazz to take their own path, you should always understand the history, but the spirit of jazz is freedom of expression, so those “rules” are also meant to be broken, not to be totally cliché!

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

LT: – That’s a powerful quote, and I feel much the same..  Music is life, and for me, life is music!  Onstage is when I feel most free, unshackled and unconcerned with the outcome, and enjoying the musical expression and comradery with my fellow musicians!

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

LT: – My expectations are just to continue to grow and evolve, become a better pianist, keyboardist, composer, producer and most importantly, person!  Fear and anxiety, I think all of us musicians experience the fear and anxiety that comes with a freelance profession with no guarantees!  The worries about not having enough work, etc and probably the most draining for any musician!

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

LT: – Wow! That people would once again focus on the depth of the music, not so much the  presentation, image, etc, but what that music really says and means to them.  It’s one of our most powerful means of communication, and it pains me to see the lack of depth in so much of todays pop music especially..  We should always celebrate artistic greatness, not savvy PR, social media, etc…  Would The Beattle’s succeed today in the same way?

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

LT: – I guess I kind of answered this above already..  But ultimately just continuing to follow my muse, to grow, to take chances, and most importantly, enjoy the ride!

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

LT: – I think so! More and more jazz today is influence by ethnic influences, and I think that’s a beautiful thing!  Joanie Mitchell was mostly revered as a “folk” artist, and she had some of the finest jazz musicians in history in her band..  To me, music doesn’t need to have these boundaries of definition and genre, a folk music fan can LOVE jazz if they’re exposed to high-quality versions of it, and vice versa..  We all hear sound and are moved by it emotionally and energetically!

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

LT: – I’ve been enjoying checking out some of my peers new projects as well as some of the new jazz artists making big waves; Ceclie McLorin Salvant, Christian Sands, etc…  My bandmate Cheikh N’Doye and friend Gerald Veasley both have new projects out, and I left them both on repeat in my car for a while each…

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

LT: – Perhaps the recording sessions for Kind of Blue or something?  It’d be so cool to experience the vibe and energy in such an iconic session like that..  Or perhaps to be a fly on the wall at Beethovens house while he composer the 9th symphony, that’d be quite amazing!  For something outside of music, I wouldn’t mind going back to observe my namesake Lao Tse and he contemplated life in Ancient China, or witness the Egyptian Pyramids being built..  It’s a long list, I can’t choose just one! haha

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

LT: – What got you into jazz and to undertake this great publication?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Jazz is life !!! Since 2003, from live jazz and blues concerts …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Lao Tizer

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