May 23, 2024

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Interview with Igor Willcox: The intellect is a cognitive power of the human soul: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Igor Willcox. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Igor Willcox: – I was born and grew up in São Paulo, but I also lived for a while in the city of Santos, where I started to study drums. Since very early! I grew up in a very musical environment because my mother is a great singer and my father, Paulo Cesar Willcox (in memoriam), was a very important maestro, arranger, piano and vibraphone player. He died when I was still a baby, but I had the opportunity to grow up listening to his recordings. My interest in music came in an natural way because of that.

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

IW: – I studied a little bit of piano when I was a child, but my mother told me that I was always drumming everywhere. When I was 14 years old, my mother was an owner of a Brazilian Pub in Santos City and I watched a lot of musicians playing. I became interested in the drums, especially watching my two uncles, who were great drummers: Marton (in memoriam) and Paulinho Freitas (in memoriam).

When the band paused between one set and another, I just sat on the drums and tried to play something. One day, my uncle Paulinho came to me and said, “Hey kid, do you want to learn how to play the drums? Go home and I’ll give you some lessons.” I went, of course! On the same day he introduced me to Buddy Rich’s “Tribute” video with Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl. That was awesome! Far beyond what I could understand at the moment, but it was there that I totally fell in love with the drums and I thought: This is what I want for myself!

I had a very important teacher from Santos, his name is Alexandre Faccas (Monga). He teached me the most important fundamentals of the drums, such as approach, how to read, the rudiments and many rhythms. After one year of classes I’ve started to study by myself, buying books and watching video lessons.

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

IW: – I don’t know how to say exactly that, but I think it’s a sum of things:

A- Practice everyday, or how much I can.

B- Listening to music all day.

C- Playing with different groups and musicians a lot, and also not playing only one musical genre, it was very important to me to have my mind open to all kind of good music.

D- I think it’s important to have a lot of influences, not only one, but listen to many different drummers, because if you have only one influence you may probably copy him. So, if you listen to different drummers, for example, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, Simon Phillips, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak, you will probably take a lot of influences from them and you will build your own.

E- I always listen to the others instrumentalists: piano players, sax players, guitar players, bass players, you cannot live only on the drummer world, mainly if you want to make music.

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

IW: – I always try to study every day possible, sometimes I can’t study every day because of the trips to perform, but I always practice:

  • Technique

  • Improvisation

  • Rhythms

I also study piano, because it is the tool that I use to compose and expose the ideas that I have on my mind.

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

IW: – I prefer to not lock myself to any pattern, I just feel the melody and the harmony and try to develop some good and interesting ideas.

We are a group that rehearsal a lot, we are very good friends, we live the music together, so we have a special commitment. Everyone of us plays in favor of the music, but we try not just play the theme, improvise some choruses and that’s it. We love to create things live, we take many risks during the music, because we believe that the music should be like the real life is. Synergy!

This album has born like that, it was not planned, it was two days of recording, but not an official recording. The idea was just to have this recording to a personal register of that moment, but when I listened to that I realized that I had an amazing entire LIVE album and that was captured in the most possible spontaneous way, because we had not the compromise to play worried about the recording, so we played very relaxed and comfortable.

So, I decided to mixing, mastering and release it!

Now I’m working on new compositions to a new album for 2019.

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

IW: – As the meaning itself says, the intellect is a cognitive power of the human soul, through which it knows something of itself, something that surrounds it and something that transcends it. In my opinion, one depends on the other, the balance must be equal, because without the intellect you can not express what comes from your soul, and without the soul your music becomes something lifeless, programmed, cold.

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

IW: – I think that even with most standards being half century old, we have excellent and new composers, composing in a modern way, blending traditional jazz and contemporary with other modern genres like electronic music, for example.

Standards are like the gateway to understanding Jazz, but it’s very important to have our minds open to creating and mixing different musical genres, just as Miles Davis did with Fusion.

Try to create something new, I think that’s the key to get young people interested in Jazz.

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

IW: – The spirit is what you are in its totality. The way you live your life, your knowledge, your feeling, the way you live with the world, and all that reflects in my music when I compose, or I’m playing.

So, I want to do something good for people, be a good human being, be generous with people, be a good husband, be able to pass on my knowledge and my experience through music, be able to give something good to people through my music and what I am as a human being.

That is to be witty and the real meaning of life, in my point of view.

What you have done throughout your personal and musical life transcends all matter and stays forever in the world.

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

IW: – The recognition, a greater appreciation and attention for the independent artists. We have so many talented musicians and composers that have not support by major labels, or management agencies, so they have very little chances to show their potential, their music.

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

IW: – The release concert of my first Cd #1, release on 2017. It was a memorable moment of my carreer. From that day on, many good things happened to my group. It  was very Special!!

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

IW: – Currently I’m listening to a lot of Bill Evans (piano), Keith Jarret, Return To Forever, Allan Holdsworth, Steely Dan, Level 42, Bach, Mark Guiliana Quartet, Donny Mccaslin, Human Element, Kenny Garret, Coltrane, Stravinsky, Bartok. These guys and many other heroes inspires me everyday.

As I said , I love many different kind of jazz music and classical music, I have my mind open to all kind of good music.

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

IW: – I would like to go back to the 70’s and living there, to see and breath all the jazz/fusion creations, experiments and innovations that happened that time. I would love to see groups like Return To Forever, Mahavishunu Orchestra, Miles Davis, Weather Report,  Allan Holdsworth, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, among others making all that fusion, jazz with rock, jazz with funky. They really changed the jazz scene.That was a magic time!

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

IW: – How do you feel about interviewing different Jazz artists from around the world with different point of views on music? And what is your biggest challenge as a journalist and a music critic?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I feel fine, but our biggest challenge as a journalist and a jazz critic in the fact that several musicians do not understand well what they can be interviewed and what they can be advertised about a new CD.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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