May 23, 2024

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Interview with Przemysław Strączek: The soul can show the people what you are like and the intellect is used … Photos, Videos

Jazz interview with jazz Polish jazz guitarist, composer, arranger, educationalist Przemysław Strączek. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Przemysław Strączek: – I was born and grew up in Jastrzębie-Zdrój city located in the South of Poland, Silesia region next to the Czech Republic border. I have been interested in music for as long as I remember. As a kid I was listening to a lot of styles of music from heavy metal through rock music and rhythm & blues.  I was playing instruments like school bells and acoustic guitar, which I got from my older brother. I always knew that I would become a musician one day.

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

PS: – First of all, I must say that I felt that the guitar was the only instrument I could play because of it sounds and colors which were close to my perception of music. Maybe it was taken from the guitar music I was listing to during my childhood time. Generally, I was a self-taught man.  When I was 21 I started musical education at the Silesian University. It was the moment when I met the jazz guitar professor Karol Ferfecki, who was teaching me jazz guitar. He opened my mind to guitar improvisation based on classical jazz and mainstream. After my graduation from University I was accepted to the jazz guitar department at Music Academy in Katowice, which I finished in 2005. After this time I participated in private lessons and workshops in different parts of the world (Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, USA and Thailand) run by fantastic guitarists like Kurt Rosenwinkel, Danilo Perez, Gilad Hekselman or David Doruzka, . They opened my mind to contemporary jazz. One o the best experiences this time was playing together with Janusz Muniak great Polish saxophone player from Krakow. He was my master.

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

PS: – When I play, most of the time I focus on the clear sound of the guitar. I feel that my sound must be dark and warm because then it would be close to my perception. I think that it depends on your mental predisposition to the instrument you play and amp you use. The instrument I have is very solid and produces the kind of sound I love. As a matter of fact, when you spend a thousands hours with the instrument you can find your personal tone. The source of this sound usually comes from your head, heart and soul. Then the sound is a natural DNA of each professional musician.

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

PS: – Now it is the time when I focus mostly on the sound, creating melodies based on my compositions. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music (classical, ethnic, free improv) Of course, to maintain good technique I do a lot of exercise based on harmonic progressions, scales and rhythm in every key, using metronome playing jazz standards improvisation as well. Spending time with the instrument I always try to find new solutions and kind of creativity in my tunes to achieve a special mood. For me this is the most important in my approach to contemporary jazz music.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

PS: – This is a very nice question. I treat harmony like colors. I used to be involved more in the harmony than linear thinking. I have spent a lot of time analyzing harmony structures, chord progression to be familiar with this. Now understanding harmony is very natural for me so  I stopped analyzing it and focused only on colors and atmosphere. That is why I love playing with bass and drums. Then I can do whatever I want taking into consideration my intuition that lets me achieve the results I feel. Definitely, the dissonance in my music is a kind of color. I would love to do this consciously but most of it is my intuition and feeling.

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

PS: – In my opinion these two things are the most important in expressing yourself in music. The soul can show the people what you are like and the intellect is used to show the way of presenting your soul. I think the music cannot be played with using too much intellect  because then it can appear a danger of hide your real intention comes from your soul.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

PS: – Being on stage is the moment when I want to invite the audience to my world. If you are a real and authentic man and give people the truth, they always appreciate your music wherever and whatever you play. Artists need people and people need artists. I usually focus only on having the best performance possible, like in the situation when you have some exceptional guests at home and you want them to feel good.

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

PS: – In 2007 I was in Chile touring with the band. I saw a beautiful volcano Osorno located in a village with about 5 thousand population, which had the same name as the volcano. After some years I was playing a concert in Poland. As a last tune we used to play song called ‘Osorno’, my composition taken from this beautiful volcano in Chile. When we finished one guy approached me and asked about the name of the last composition. When I told him we played ‘Osorno’, he said that this is his place of birth. Almost 13 thousand kilometers from Chile I met a guy who was born in this small town and who came to a jazz concert in Poland to listen to my music. Incredible! Sometimes I think that this kind of situation is a special sign that you might be going in the right direction. Hahaha!

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

PS: – In my opinion young people are more and more interested in improvisation and kinds of jazz music like funky, soul, freejazz, ethnojazz, which is fantastic. It’s very good when they are conscious of the fact that these styles are taken from the past, from the history of music. Modern styles of music are based on it. To have a key to playing jazz nowadays we have to show them that understanding idioms of classic jazz can make them better players. Of course, to develop new conceptions in music you don’t have to play like 50 years ago but it is great if you can play like that. That is why we should show them that jazz standards are really valuable. Jazz Standards are a kind of roots. You need to know about these roots to understand contemporary jazz music.

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

PS: – The Spirit for me is a kind of unseen energy. I think that each of us has his own spirit from the day of birth. The spirit accompanies you during your whole life. If you are an artist you can contact your spirit by creating a special mood during the performance using your own language. This is a very intimate and personal thing that lets you show the depth of art.

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

PS: – I would move New York city closer to Poland. Hahaha.

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

PS: – I’m listening to musicians who can create an exceptional mood in their compositions, improvisation. That is why I love music from ECM label. I love when I hear something new in a style, in a sound, in a composition. Jazz music is a space for interaction between musicians and that’s why I love when musicians in a band are very interactive. I started listening to guitar player Jakob Bro with his trio and quartet, saxophone player Andy Sheppard, polish trumpet player Tomasz Stańko and the bass player, who cooperates with Asian traditional instrumentalist, Michel Benita. They are very interesting.

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

PS: – I think I would choose the trip to New York in the fifties or sixties of the last century. I would like to feel the birth of modern jazz music. I would love to play with fantastic musicians like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Miles Davis and many, many others. Playing with the giants of jazz is the best musical education ever.

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

PS: – Why have you decided to create this portal about jazz and blues music?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. I really love jazz and blues music. At first there was a group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/JazzSimonBlues/ that was no longer enough for me.

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

PS: – I don’t know …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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