May 20, 2024

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Interview with Diane Hoffman: A relationship between audience and artist depends on the situation: New video 2018

Jazz interview with jazz singer Diane Hoffman. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Diane Hoffman: – I grew up in Cambridge, Mass. There was always music playing at home: big band recordings, opera and show tune recordings. My Mom was always singing with records or the radio. At a young age, I was involved with Sunday Mass liturgical music and Requiem Masses in Latin. This made a lasting impression about listening.

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?

DH: – I started playing music on guitar. My grandfather was a guitarist. This influence was involved with folk/delta blues and jazz. Growing up in a college town as Cambridge exposed me to all kinds of music. Coltrane was being played in book stores, attending Spanish guitarist concerts, Indian music and lute playing by friends and of course the sounds of Billie Holiday had an impact. Ella, Dinah, Nat King Cole and the variety of music on TV and radio was everywhere. Teachers that influenced me in the vocal singing were Bernard Fischer, Jay Clayton, Anita Darian and Barbara Maier Gustern.

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

DH: – My own sound came from my natural gift of having a voice. A voice that could sing and feel good about what I heard as a young person. Over time, I started listening much more to recordings of vocalists and big band singers.

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

DH: – My practice routine includes working on vowels, scales and intervals. Listening is very much a part of developing ear training.

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?

DH: – My vocal sound when I perform is the internalization of the message and lyric. The variations of notes sometimes come by the moment of inspiration and experimentation. Harmony or preferred notes rather than dissonance is an aesthetic decision.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <Do I Love You>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

DH: – What I love most about “Do I Love” is the involvement with different instrumentation that’s different from the usual trio. The different colors of a horn section, vibraphone along with the trio added energy and depth to the listening experience. My Producer and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. was involved in helping me put together the different colors that produced this sound with instrumentation.

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

DH: – A relationship between audience and artist depends on the situation. What I try to do mostly is reach the audience with my interpretation of my music. To label what the music is and what the audience wants are two different things. I call my sound Jazz that can swing or Jazz/Blues that recalls the heartfelt energy that is believable. Pop enters the picture when the situation calls for it.

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

DH: – The experience of recording “Do I Love You” was quite enlightening for me. The rehearsals before we got to the studio were invaluable. The support of my team had an impact that was quite a learning curve and embracing of my musicians. That effort came from the whole group.

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

DH: – Believe it or not young people do love jazz. Most of the time they don’t know it. It is integrated in our TV ads, added into our rappers repertoire and car ads. But what’s missing for young people is they do not know the history of jazz. This is needed as part of enrichment for life and education in all aspects of music. This includes classical, orchestral, choral, swing jazz, delta blues, country and original music.

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

DH: – I agree with John Coltrane that music is your own spirit. How many ways are there to sing a song, to play an accompaniment, to orchestrate an arrangement and so on. Everyone is an individual in their choices of ways that make their music their own.

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

DH: – For me I feel that education from a young age is the way for individuals to develop an appreciation of music. Being involved in learning and listening to music from all cultures. Music is not just for those who study and perform, but to all who appreciate listening to music from around the globe.

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

DH: – I love listening to all kinds of music including world music, classical guitarists, piano classical and orchestral symphonies, jazz instrumentalists and of course contemporary jazz vocalists.

I want to continue my study of voice, continue performing and looking forward to recording again.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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