Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Paul Jolly. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Paul Jolly: – I was born in Luton Bedfordshire UK. My first musical influence were classical recordings that my adopted parents played. At school I studied the flute but my first contact with jazz
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the saxophon? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the saxophon?
PJ: – Was in 1960, when we had a new teacher at the school – Mel Davis who played me some music from Theloniuos Monk and I was hooked. I began saxophone at this time – influenced by Charlie Rouse, Dexter Gordon and freer players as well – especially Eric Dolphy from whom I got my love of the bass clarinet.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
PJ: – I later went on to join Mel’s band – the People Band – in 1969 and worked with him in various groups until his death in 2013 – The People Band continues to work occasionally in London and we will be appearing in Berlin during October. Although I played in pop and rock bands, including Sweet Slag, I have always loved playing free improvised music. During the 1980’s I worked with a group ‘Loverly’ with the vocalist Maggie Nicols. During this time I also struck up a musical relationship with pianist Mike Adcock – we also worked together in an experimental theatre group – ’The Fabulous Random Band’ 1969 to date Professional Musician, performing in a wide variety of creative music projects – including two years as Musical Director for the Intriplicate Mime Company, member of the People Band and People Show, major European tours with the People Band, Big Chico, Mummy and Loverly – an improvising group featuring the singer Maggie Nicols.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
PJ: – From 1991 I have also been Executive Producer for “ 33” Jazz Records, including all A&R, product design and international distribution development. Liaison with the Arts Council of England to develop and commission new works by British jazz musicians and composers. To date “33” have released over 350 albums of contemporary jazz & related music and is one of the leading independent jazz labels in the U.K. Distribution outlets embrace the USA, Europe, Japan and Australia. Product is also available on-line via 33’s interactive web site and through the I-tunes digital store. Major artists signed to, or releasing through, the label include: UK artists, Paula Rae Gibson, Tina May, Theo Travis, John Altman, Don Weller, John Law and Stan Tracey. USA artists, Deborah Brown, Shaynee Rainbolt, Kat Gang, Jackie Ryan, Joan Viskant and Steve Lacy. European musicians include German composer Hans Koller, pianists Aishia HR, Andrea Pozza and Marco Marconi, saxophonist Renato D’Aiello and bassist Silvia Bolognessi.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
PJ: – On-going personal work as a musician, composer and educator, including appearing in, and composing for, the award winning Mike Figgis film “Stormy Monday”, with Sting, Tommy Lee Jones & Melanie Griffiths. Recent appearances Include: major performances at Kings Place, the Vortex, Café Otto and the Shunt Lounge with the People Band. In September 2011 the People Band were featured for four days – as part of the Deloitte ‘Tell The Truth’ Festival at the Royal Opera House. Performances included a specially devised piece alongside the London Contemporary Orchestra and flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
PJ: – At present I am working with a dancer, Julia Cheng and am hoping to further develop work with artists from other mediums. With regard to your other questions – I fear for the world! too many non-creative people in power.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
PJ: – I love music from Italian musicians like Giovani Trovesi who mix folk elements alongside jazz and improvised music.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
PJ: – I think Coltrane understood that we must keep searching to create new work and I felt that he truly understood the need for us to be guided by our spiritual honesty.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
PJ: – If I wanted to be anywhere at this time it would be in an Italian village sipping good red wine.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
PJ: – I think to get our music to younger generations we must get the music into their world – eg using social networks and also create good venues where people feel safe to enjoy music in a community.
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
PJ: – My question to you: How do you see the development of jazz and improvised music improving with the continual decline in the record industry?
JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. An in-depth look into the health of the music industry by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has shown that in 2017 there was 5.9% growth, mainly attributed to the mass adoption of streaming across the world. It is a vastly different story from the previous 15 years, where record labels saw a decline of 40% in revenue as piracy took its toll, physical sales declined and record shops went out of business. In its early years, streaming was derided by many musicians and observers as the final nail in the industry’s coffin. However, with 112 million paying subscribers to services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, which ensured growth in streaming revenue went up by more than 60% last year, it has now been hailed as the saviour of music. The note of caution from music executives mainly originated in the continued problem of the “value gap” generated by platforms such as YouTube, which have 900 million users worldwide but host millions of unlicensed videos and pay a fraction of the royalties record labels believe they are due.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan