February 28, 2024

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Interview with Michika Fukumori: The Great American Song Book and Jazz Standards are one of American Heritages: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist, composer Michika Fukumori. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Michika Fukumori: – I was born in Japan and grew up there until I moved to New York in 2000.

I started to learn music and play the piano when I was 3 years old.

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

MF: – Before I was born, there is a piano at my parent’s house. That’s why my mother took me to the music and piano school.

Actually I learned classic composition at Music college in Japan. But after I graduated the college, I started a carrier as a professional jazz pianist in Tokyo. Since I moved to NY,  Steve Kuhn is my piano teacher and  mentor. He keep encouraging me to make music swing,  play music like singing from my heart and establish my own style of music.

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

MF: – I listen to a lot of great music … recording and live music.

Not only jazz and piano but also orchestra music, Brazilian music and so on … I try to take image of the sound from them. And also I got a huge influence from Steve Kuhn. His sound is always my goal and dream.

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

MF: – Play scales for the technical thing. Listen to Blues for the rhythm.

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

MF: – I don’t think about any harmonic patterns. I follow my intuitions and what I have with inside of me. But again, I got a lot of influence from Steve Kuhn.

Now I am forcusing on play the songs from ”Piano Images” for Japan tour 2018 and the album release concert on November 15th @ Jazz at Kitano in New York City. I also play solo piano every Tuesday in July (this month)@ Jazz at Kitano.

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

MF: – I am tring to have soul coming first.

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

MF: – This is a story when I had my first album “Infinite Thoughts” recording (piano trio: David Fink(b), Billy Drummond (d) 2004 ). After we recorded all songs we prepared as a  trio, there was still a space left as a full album. They recommended to me take one more song as a trio, but I had  no idea what I could play. Then I decided to record one more song as solo piano. That was ” An affair to remember”. Now I realize it was  the beginning for my solo piano project.

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

MF: – As far as we play the music from our heart like singing,  I believe some young people would listen to this music. It doesn’t mattet 50 years or 80 years old. I  can say the Great American Song Book and Jazz Standards are one of American Heritages. They should proud of it.

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

MF: – The sprit… it exists in our deep soul. The deep heart calling.

The meaning of life to me is interaction and sharing the feelings through music.

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

MF: – Return to simplicity and feel from soul.

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

MF: – Etta Jones, Edo Lobo …

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

MF: – In 1950-60, New York or 1960-70  Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

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

MF: – Thank you for all interesting questions. It gave me a good opportunity to think about myself as a jazz musician.

Many good luck for you and your company’s further!

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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