Jazz interview with jazz clarinetist Adam Price. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Adam Price: – I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, about an hour or so from Philadelphia. Discovering my dad’s 45 collection was definitely huge! But I think what really got me started in music was when I saw a marching band for the first time. I was in elementary school and the high school band came to do a mini concert for us, and I was like, “I want to do that!”
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
AP: – For the most part, it evolved with who I was listening to. I started out with Benny Goodman, of course. Then I discovered Eddie Daniels. I can still remember the first time I heard him. He blew my mind! His tone, and his fluidity… It’s really out of this world. And then I discovered Anat Cohen, who is another rock star of mine. Every player I start to dig into really affects my sound. I try and steal what I like from them. I think that’s how most musicians evolve.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
AP: – Scales and modes. You can study them for the rest of your life and still not master them. As far as rhythm goes, a metronome is so simple, but so necessary. It’s crazy how much it helps improve your time. I can easily tell when I haven’t practiced with it. It’s like night and day.
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?
AP: – Well, actually, I was deep into the free jazz thing for a while, so I definitely love some dissonance, but as far as this album goes, it was definitely a conscious decision. I was trying to make this album accessible to the general public. A lot of people are turned off of jazz because of dissonance, or angular solos, or it being to academic. I tried to make this project something that can be put on the same playlist with any indie artist without the transition being too jarring. So I have been focusing heavily on creating memorable melodies, both in the compositions and in the solos.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
AP: – I don’t prevent them at all! I welcome all influences into my playing. That’s part of what makes me sound like me – all of my disparate influences. I don’t even know I could prevent them if I tried.
JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <House Ghosts>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
AP: – Well, this was my first album as a leader, so I loved learning about the process from that end of things. I loved working with the amazing musicians that are on the album, and I loved where we recorded: Red Rock Recording Studio. There are, of course, some things that I would have done differently looking back on it, but overall I’m pretty proud of it. At the moment, I’m working on booking and promoting the cd release tour, and I’ve got a ship gig coming up as well, but I’ve got a few ideas for a new project.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
AP: – Well, if you have soul but no intellect I imagine it would be hard navigate the changes, forms, and this confusing life in general. And if you have intellect but no soul, your music will just sound academic or robotic, and your life will be cold and boring. You need both to function, not only as a musician but also as a human being.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
AP: – Within reason. At the end of the day they are the ones paying your bills, so if you alienate them, there goes your rent. It’s a hard line to walk between being true to yourself and making music that people want to invest their time and money in.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
AP: – So many stories! There was this one time I was touring with an electronica band out of Brooklyn called The Landing. We were in Charlotte I think and the crowd was electric. I was in the middle of an EWI solo when I felt something soft hit my face, but my eyes were closed and I was deep in my solo, so I didn’t let it distract me. After my solo, I looked down and saw a pair of girls panties hanging off the end of my EWI. It was an awesome night!
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
AP: – This is a great question! I think it’s a question a lot of jazz artists and educators are wrestling with. For starters, there are a lot of jazz musicians who are covering more modern songs. Gretchen Parlato’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “I can’t help it” and Brad Meldau’s cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” come to mind. Doing this makes jazz accessible because people recognize the more recent tunes. Other than that, I think it’s just a matter of figuring out how to make jazz hip to the uninitiated. Really, jazz hasn’t been what you would call mainstream since the swing era, and from that point of view, I don’t think we are doing that bad. The next generation of jazz cats are sounding pretty good from what I hear.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
AP: – That is a heavy question! Philosophy and religion has been struggling with that since the dawn of time. I really don’t know what the meaning of life is, but I definitely believe in the spirit. And music is certainly intertwined with it. I always feel a sense of wonder when I go see live music. And afterwards, I always feel better, with much more hope for humanity. The same thing happens when I walk alone in nature. I’m convinced that if more people went to see live music (or went on lonely walks in the woods) the world would be a better place.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
AP: – Booking agents that would actually return your emails. That would be awesome.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
AP: – Lately I’ve been revisiting some of Susanna Baca’s music, the legendary Peruvian singer. So good! In preparing for this album though, I was listening to a lot of Joao Nogueira (an incredible Brazilian cat), Stan Getz, Vince Guaraldi, and a bunch of west coast guys.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
AP: – So many places! At the top of my list would probably be Sullivan County, NY in the summer of 1969. Or New Orleans at the turn of the last century, before Storyville was shut down. Both for the music and the amazing culture and history that happened at those places and times.
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
AP: – What is your favorite drink?
JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Armenian wine!!
JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
AP: – Love is all you need.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan