May 24, 2024

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Interview with Vincent Thekal: Music is soul, of course, but intellect is there to grow up something more intense: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Vincent Thekal. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Vincent Thekal: – I grew up in East of France, listening to music since I was little kid. Music was part of my education for my parents, so I started at 4, with no questions, it was just natural to do that, like going to swimming pool or have a bike.

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?

VT: – I started saxophone when I was 8, I was seduced by the sound and the attitude you can have with this instrument. I grew up in the 80’s, there was ever a sax player on TV with sun glasses… 😉

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

VT: – I studied lot of classical music on the alto, thinking jazz will be easy to play after studying this, but, I discovered later it’s just another language… I think I started to try to develop my own sound as teenager, when I was looking for metal mouthpieces, trying to sound like Dexter Gordon or Michael Brecker on tenor, and finally I think I developed something on my own.

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

VT: – I continue to play long tones, reading classical studies, working on articulation and technical stuffs, ever with metronome… Classic things 😉 For rythm, I take some rhythmic ideas in transcriptions I do and try to integrate in my language and use it in different ways, or playing a standard in a different metrics, stuffs like this.

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

VT: – Wow, big question… I can be touched by a classic Ellington or by Tim Berne! I don’t think in patterns, of course II V I is THE pattern, but there’s infinite ways to play this, I think all that music is related to the blues, whatever you play, if blues is around, you got it.

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

VT: – Music is soul, of course, but intellect is there to grow up something more intense. Some of the best musicians didn’t know anything about theory and they play like hell, I think the important thing is: «What do you have to say?», you can have a diploma from the bigger school in the world and have nothing to say. But you can also work by your own and have nothing to say also, hahaha. So, to me soul is the most important, but «intellect» can really help you, but too much can destroy you. It’s a difficult question…

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

VT: – I was 18, first time going in a jam session in Luxembourg, some friends told me « man, this jam is serious business », I was thinking, ok, sure, but I will play, no worries. When I arrived, I hear a super tenor playing over the blues, the session was in the back room, I was impressed… I enter in the room, the sax player was… Mr Bob Mintzer! I was like a child at Christmas, also thinking « what the F… is he doing here? », some guys around explained me he was there for the week recording with the national orchestra. It was a super jam, by the way…

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

VT: – Listening to music without explaining that’s it’s more or less hundred years old, and that’s it’s a « intellectual » music. And make promotion of this music. People are not stupid or born with bad taste, and I imagine there’s so many amazing music, books, movies, I don’t know yet and could change my life, or just make me feel good, or have a great moment. But I think developing music at school, singin, playing a bit of piano, and not saying to kids « be careful, music is difficult and for brillant peoples », it’s just music, anybody can play and have fun. That’s the most important, I think.

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

VT: – Wow, again a big question… I think spirit is something really personnal, and everyone had his own. I don’t know if I understand meaning of life! I think we are here, on this planet, since a few years (according to universe age…), so, it’s possible there’s something else somewhere. As René Descartes said, human is between infinitely little and infinitely big, and that something human brain can’t conceptualize (what’s the infinite?)… So, we want to understand why we are here, how, when… But we are just part of a enormous thing and we want to explain why we are here. That’s a big question…

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

VT: – More live music and more open minded peoples.

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

VT: – These days, I’m back in my Grant Green mood. This guy is so great… In more modern stuffs, I like a lot Fred Hersh, Seamus Blake and Ben Wendel (and so many more).

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

VT: – Hahaha, there’s so many periods I would like to see! Depends if I’ll stay or if I can come back… If I stay, I don’t want to use that time machine, If I can come back, in the future, like 2500, just to see if we found a solution or not… In the past, so many options… In the 60’s in NYC to hear Coltrane live, in the 40’s to hear Bird live… And why not centuries before to meet Bach. But I’m not sure I will like living in this period.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Vincent Thekal

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