May 18, 2024

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Interview with Warren Walker: Music is one way to connect with people by spreading love and joy: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Warren Walker. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Warren Walker: – I grew up in California. I was born in Los Angeles and at a young age we moved to a town called Grass Valley in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  I initially became interested in music through my Father who played guitar. There were always instruments lying around from guitars and mandolins to synthesizers and drum machines. Also, music was always playing in my house from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix to the Stray Cats. My Dad and I would have these listening sessions together when I was very young. I was so enthralled most times that I would just sit right in front of the speaker and get lost in the music.

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?

WW: – I picked up the saxophone because it was one of the few instruments that I liked that could be played in my elementary school band. My father also had a saxophone that he rarely played that I quickly took a liking to and I sometimes feel like it chose me.  I was self-taught until I got into College but I was very fortunate to play in my Father’s bands and friends of my Father’s bands at local bars and events in Grass Valley at a very young age.  I learned a lot about how to play with people and how to listen. In regards to teachers, I’d like to thank Francis Vanek and Peter Epstein. Both of them have had a huge influence on my playing.

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

WW: – I think I strive more and more to think less about technical elements in my playing and more about playing something honest and with intention. I’m constantly trying to convey a story in my writing and in my improvisations to allow for further connections with my audience. Effects pedals have played a huge role in the last few years even though I have been using them on and off since I was about 16.  I’m more and more drawn to electronic music and with effects I’m not only looking to replicate sounds you would normally only get in a studio but also to use the effects in an improvised manner and approach them as individual instruments. I’ve also been really drawn to synthesizers in the last few years and learning how to incorporate them into my sound as I’m doing a lot more with playing both the saxophone and synth at the same time.

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

WW: – Long tones and metronomes! J  I just try to practice slow and with a clear mind. Focused practice for 15 minutes is better than 1 hour of distracted practice. In regards to the Rhythm, I just try to have a metronome handy or anything representing a consistent pulse while I am practicing. I am also very fortunate to play with such amazing musicians with incredible time feels.

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

WW: – I don’t really have any preference in regards to these matters. I am open to anything that will allow me to convey the story or emotions that I happen to be writing or playing about in that moment.

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

WW: – I think the intellect is there only to allow you fully express yourself without limitations. Its important to approach it from an intellect standpoint and then forget about it and just tell your story.

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

WW: – I’m thankful to have performed my music all over the world. Every time I have performed whether it be for twenty people or thousands it will always be special. The symbiotic experience you have with the other musicians on stage with you is something very unique and its so great to have such a deep relationship with other individuals.  The oddAtlas session was really great. We were in a studio in the French Alps and the four of us had never played together before in this formation. It was really great to watch the music develop so quickly and organically through our previous musical experiences together and our personal relationships outside of music.

Another moment that I wont forget was the first time The Kandinsky Effect was playing in Zagreb, Croatia. The airlines lost our luggage as there was a strike in Paris and we were re routed. So we desperately scrambled to find equipment to use from local musicians and finally we managed. After all that we were still running late and the promoter really wanted to take us to dinner. We were all very hungry after a very long day of travel and of course we ate everything. We promptly finished and the promoter looked at us and said “ok, you guys go on in 20 minutes” Wide eyed and stuffed we waddled on stage and proceeded to play. 10 minutes into our set we all look at each other and know we cant go on. We explain to the packed house what happened and they cheered. We stepped off stage and digestifs were waiting for us at the bar from our fans and we took our time. First and only time we ever stopped a show 10 minutes in and finally we finished the show with two encores and thankful fans.

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

WW: – I think the most important thing to do is to have the festival and club programmers be open to programming new and up and coming bands.  There is so much great music being made in the “jazz” category that young people can identify with but you need a place for those bands to perform and a platform for them to be heard. This is the only way. Fortunately, there is movement in this direction and young people are getting more and more interested in the music since it seems that most pop music is not satisfying people as much anymore.

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

WW: – I feel that everyone is connected spiritually. Music is just one way to connect with people by spreading love and joy.

I think this is also connected to the meaning of life.  I feel the only thing we are here to do on this planet is to love and try to contribute to the greater good in whatever way you can.

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

WW: – It would be great that we could think about just the art rather than having to wear so many hats. This day in age we are forced to be agents, photographers, social media managers, tour bus drivers, composers, soloists, publicists, etc. It would be really great to know that feeling of only having to think about creating art and evolving as a musician.  For this art to survive we need support from our fans. People need to make the effort and go to the shows and buy their albums. Streaming your favorite band’s music is not enough.

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

WW: – I am constantly on the search for new music. Lately I have been enjoying the new Louis Cole, Aphex Twin, and Nate Wood (Four) albums.  Some older albums that have been in constant rotation are Dawn of Midi, Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm “Loon”, Grizzly Bear “Painted Ruins”, and Anderson Paak’s “Malibu”.

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

WW: – Here and now. I always strive to live in the moment. For the sake of the question I would say sometime during the 20’s. It was a really exciting period and there was so many things to be discovered and explored.

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

WW: – Where do you see the direction of jazz and creative music in the next 20 years? What do you think is the best way for this music to be heard and find an audience?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. For better or for worse, jazz has been in a constant state of change since the day it was born. Jazz audiences haven’t always been ready for these new directions. Each of the ideas listed above met with some resistance and, at times, indifference and criticism from the old guard. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were derided in their day for playing new styles of music, which is important to remember as we take a look at trends happening now.

So what about today? What new strains are emerging from jazz? And who is forging the new boundaries, exploring unexamined territories of this music? The answer to these questions can be elusive. Seasoned fans will note that these sounds incorporate elements and ideas from the jazz tradition within their frameworks. They are not counter to the ideals of its history; rather, they serve as a part of its continuum.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Warren Walker jazz saxophonist

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