May 22, 2024

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Interview with Jamie Baum: I think most music is spiritual: Video

Jazz interview with jazz flutist Jamie Baum. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Jamie Baum: – I grew up in Fairfield, CT. My mother had gone to Julliard for one year before leaving to get married. She studied piano and trombone, and while she had stopped playing and teaching before I was born, there were a lot of records in the house. They were mostly classical and opera but a lot of Frank Sinatra (w/Count Basie, etc.) records too, and they took me to hear concerts quite often.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the flute?

JB: – I had taken piano lessons during my childhood, but when I got into high school, I wanted to play something more mobile so picked up the flute.

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

JB: – I had several teachers during my most formative years, though haven’t studied with anyone recently. Important teachers included Jaki Byard, Richie Beirach, Dave Liebman, Charlie Banacos, William Thomas McKinnley, Rich DeRosa, Ludmilla Ulehla, Keith Underwood, Georges Alirole, …and there were and continue to be so many musicians I’ve played with that I have learned from.

JBN.S: – What made you choose the flute?

JB: – It’s versatility in that it fits in many styles of music, and its mobility.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time?

JB: – I think it is still evolving and I think I continue to improve. For many years I was not interested in playing in the high register, I preferred the warmth and depth of the lower octaves. More recently I have come to hear ideas in the high register and am working on improving my sound and technique in that range. Also, while I listened to many of the important and influential jazz flutists like Dolphy, Kirk, Laws, Steig, etc. I spent more of my time listening to other instruments like Miles, Trane, Freddie, Wayne, etc.. I wasn’t so focused on developing my technique and sound on the flute, I was more interested in learning the language but am more interested in the flute now.

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

JB: – I don’t think consciously about looking to “find my sound”. I think more about what type of music and ideas interest me and how I can work on developing my playing to express myself the most fluently within that context.

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

JB: – I do practice long tones and playing scales and ideas in different keys and meters to feel more fluent. I also practice improvising.

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

JB: – Not sure what you mean or how to answer that.

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

JB: – I think you need both.

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

JB: – There are so many, it is difficult to pick one, though having the chance to perform in Nepal twice in some very ancient venues, and collaborating with local musicians was definitely a highlight, as was other similar tours to India.

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

JB: – Well, I think so many musicians, including myself, are performing both original music and arranged standards that include influences from current popular music (whether it be rap, pop, rock, groove, global) and I think that can be a good starting point.

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

JB: – Wow, heavy question! I think most music is spiritual and most things that one needs to know/understand about life and oneself can be found through the daily ritual and process of working on music, both alone and with other musicians.

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

JB: – That musicians get paid what they are worth and deserve, that people understand the value of the artist and intellectual property, and the important role the arts play in daily life.

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

JB: – That is a tough question because I listen to so many different types of music depending on my mood and the day. I listen to a lot of my peers recordings since we often exchange CDs and I like to hear what they are doing. In the past couple of days I was checking at my friend Dave Binney’s new project, Knower, Andrew Rathbun’s new CD, some Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis, Rajasthan Express, Kendrick Lamar…

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

JB: – Perhaps late ‘50s and ‘60s…so much interesting development with Miles, Coltrane, Shorter, Ornette, Hancock, Russell….

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

JB: – How do you find time to listen to all of the CDs that are coming out at record pace :-)?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I really love jazz !!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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