May 24, 2024

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Interview with Rebecca Angel: You need to practice the intellect to improve your technique but … Video

Jazz interview with jazz singer Rebecca Angel. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Rebecca Angel: – I grew up in Westchester NY in Scarsdale and I’ve been singing since I was a toddler. My dad grew up in a musical family and formed a band with his brothers called “The Swingin’ Angels,” so I would say music is part of my blood. My dad introduced me to all styles of music including jazz, rock and roll, classical, soul, blues and I loved it all. I remember going to a Broadway show with my parents when I was around 7 years old and said “I don’t want to be in the audience, I belong on stage,” so they signed me up for a theatre training program and I was the youngest member in it at just 8 years old. All throughout elementary school and high school I was involved in musicals, choirs in and out of school, and took voice lessons from pros like Barbara Maier and Roseanna Vitro.

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

RA: – When I was in high school my dad put together a jazz band and recorded a few CD’s that I was featured on. I would perform with his band and fell in love with this genre of music and learned a bunch of the standards. Taking lessons from Roseanna Vitro was very helpful in developing my jazz- vocabulary and prepared me to be a vocal jazz studies major at Ithaca College. During my time at Ithaca I was fortunate to study with Kim Nazarian of the New York Voices. Kim was instrumental in helping me build my voice and taught me much of what I know about jazz. When I would travel to NYC I had master classes with Cyrille Aimee who helped develop my scatting ability and was a strong influence in helping me develop my own personal style. Carol McAmis was my classical voice teacher at Ithaca College who helped build up my technique and body awareness. I was also fortunate enough to study with jazz pianist Nick Weiser who taught me about jazz song-writing and how to improvise like an instrumentalist. While attending the annual New York Voices Vocal Jazz Camp, where I received the Ella Fitzgerald scholarship, I had additional coachings from Peter Eldridge, Darmon Meader and Lauren Kinhan. This camp was like a vocal jazz boot camp and I learned so much by being in the presence of the iconic vocal group.

One of the reasons I was drawn to study jazz voice at Ithaca College was because it is where the New York Voices went to school and later formed into the famous group. In my high school jazz choir, we would sing their charts and they were an idol of mine. It was a dream come true to study with Kim Nazarian and I continue to take lessons with her post-graduation. (Simon-what a coincidence that NYV performed in Yerevan and that sparked an interest in jazz for you as well!)

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

RA: – I have never tried to mimic specific singers, but rather incorporate aspects of their style that I was drawn to. Starting at a young age, I would cover a variety of songs by playing them on piano and singing. Through this I started to develop my own style and arrangements. I remember people telling me I had my own unique sound and style for as long as I can remember. At age 15 I started working with my producer Jason Miles who embraced my voice and nurtured my style. In college, I became infatuated with Brazilian music and the albums Elis & Tom and Getz/Gilberto was very influential on me. I started listening to artists such as Astrud Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto, Elis Regina, Sergio Mendes, Stan Getz, Tom Jobim, etc. I was extremely drawn to the melodic, complex, catchy and smooth vibe this music has and I could listen to it all day long. Jason Miles helped me develop a style and sound that incorporates this Brazilian vibe while adding unique sounds. Jason has introduced me to lots of artists that became influential to me such as Sade, Marcos Valle and Wanda Sa, and in my EP, you can hear those influences.

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

RA: – I think one of the best exercises is listening to the experts. I have learned so much by transcribing solos from instrumentalists and vocalists such as Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Django Reinhardt, Stan Getz, Emily Remler, Ella Fitzgerald, Cyrille Aimee, along with many others. I noticed the biggest improvement in my rhythmic skills when I started transcribing solos in college. With each solo you add another piece to your rhythmic harmonic and melodic vocabulary… it is like learning a new language.

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

RA: – I am always a fan of the harmonic minor scale and the minor pentatonic scale especially when writing songs. These scales have a nice mix between major and minor and are easy to improvise over. For non-music readers think of the sound of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” or “Hava Nagila.” I’m Jewish so I grew up learning all the traditional Jewish folk songs and that harmonic minor scale always stuck with me!

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

RA: – That’s a really good question! I think that to be a good musician you need to practice the intellect to improve your technique but I think when it comes to performing and recording you need to forget about it and perform from the soul. You can tell when people are too in their head performing which usually means they haven’t spent enough time practicing or they aren’t truly in the moment. Once you become comfortable enough with a song you can just have fun with it and focus on connecting with the audience.

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

RA: – While in college I had the opportunity to perform at the iconic restaurant The Nines, which is a college-town hotspot. The venue used to be a historic fire station in the early 20th century called No. 9 fire station, and became a restaurant/pizza venue in the seventies. This place serves great deep dish pizza that comes down a shoot and I always had so much fun at that venue.

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

RA: – Jazz can be seen as an academic music now, especially when it is studied as classical music with topics such as theory and history. I think a lot of young musicians are missing the point of jazz and it has become highly “intellectual.” I’ve noticed people get trapped in the game of wanting to be the next “Charlie Parker” or “Sarah Vaughn” and become great at mimicking these pro’s but forget to find themselves and to me, that isn’t very entertaining. People like Miles Davis pushed boundaries and kept re-inventing the wheel to take jazz to the next level and that was very exciting. Robert Glasper’s project “Black Radio” to me is a perfect example of what this generation of jazz is; a fusion of old with the new incorporating a standard “Afro Blue” with Erykah Badu does just that and I find this cover compelling with hip hop beats on a traditional melody interspersed with jazzy piano riffs. I also love Glasper’s album “Everything’s Beautiful” which incorporates tasteful samples from Miles Davis. I think it is important to keep being innovative and creating new sounds and individual styles to keep people interested. As the master Miles said himself: “When you do anything too long, you either wear it out or lose interest.”

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

RA: – I believe that everyone has a unique purpose in life and for me it is to be loved and to spread love to others. I don’t think there is anything more important in this world than love. If I can continually do this through music or any other platform, then I have succeeded in life.

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

RA: – I would wish that musicians could receive more money per stream. It’s comically low.

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

RA: – John Mayer’s album “Where the Light is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles.” I decided to revisit it on the 10-year anniversary this year! I have been listening to “Gravity” as it is a masterclass on heart & soul, improvisation and dynamics. Any musician can learn something from this heartfelt performance. I have always been a huge John Mayer fan.

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

RA: – Socially speaking, I would travel to the future because I think we have made a lot headway in our country in the past few decades and still have a far way to go. If I could travel to a time where there isn’t prejudice and hatred based on race, religion or ethnicity I would go there. Musically speaking though, I think the 1960s would have been cool to witness with all the amazing musicians who were playing/ social and political music and I would have to check out Woodstock. I would say I am still very much drawn to music of the 1960s … it was hard to beat.

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

RA: – After receiving lots of perspectives from several different jazz musicians, what are your key takeaways about this genre of music? Thanks for having me on your website !!!

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Jazz is life and my life !!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Rebecca Angel

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