Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Stefan Schultze. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Stefan Schultze: – I grew up in Lower Saxony / Braunschweig. My father and my sister played the piano and I had piano lessons. Very early, I was interested in trying out things and improvising on the piano and I would sit down and play what’s not written.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument?
SS: – Having studied with John Taylor for a long time had a great impact on my sound, espacially playing duo sessions with him.
Besides, sound developed through playing and listening and being live on stage and having to project towards the audience.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
SS: – Routine is very important to me. I find myself more and more in the challenge to enable time to fulfill these routines. I like to spend an hour with playing bascis on the piano before I start composing & practising. Besides I love to have a working duo or trio as a regular routine, as you learn so much, when making music with good musicians.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
SS: – It is always a matter of balance. I would assume, that I could like any harmony or any harmonic pattern, depending what is the foreground middleground and background and how it is placed within the time structure of a piece od music.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
SS: – I have long had the wish to compose music for solo piano that reflects my desire for pared-down compositions. I always try out new things and try to incorporate them into what I am practising, performing and composing. In the end it is hard to make decisions if you are interested in a lot of different things and it does not make you a more complete musician…
I was trying to achieve streams of reduced statements rendered audible through the highlighting of the uncommon and through clarity and simplicity, drawing the listener into a music in which dimensions can always be newly discovered. My aim was to work with reduced source material, to bring this material into focus and to rein in the pace of the development process.
Listening back to the album I am glad that I went for this for me new approach making the album somewhat structured & straight forward in its own sometimes radical way.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
SS: – For me every musician has it’s own balance which also reflects his or her character. Even though I think about my compositions a lot, for me soul is more important.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
SS: – In general I like about making music and listening to music the moments where something unplanned happens and which impact it has on the performance. This can be small things or big things.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
SS: – My longterm friendship and collaboration with saxophonist Peter Ehwald, who has a brought understanding of music and at the same time is a true and inspiring musician.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
SS: – It does not matter who old any material is, it matters more to find aesthetics that reflect what you are doing / feeling / thinking. Always trying out new things, not neglecting the history of music, but also not being afraid of going a different way.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
SS: – I am still working on trying to find that out.
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
SS: – Even though there is a lot going on in the world that I disagree with, I am looking forward to listening to inspiring music from anywhere in the world. And I hope that I can use making music / being on tour as a way to communicate with other people.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
SS: – In a very selfish way, if every good performance space had a great grand piano, I would be very happy.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
SS: – I am working on a new large ensemble album.
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
SS: – I don’t try to much to seperate music by description of style. I try to find similarites in approaches of composition / performing and so on. By that, there can be a lot of similarities between very different styles.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
SS: – I would love to make a trip back in time to listen to my favourite composers. But the list is quite long.
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
SS: – Thanks so much for your work, all the best, Stefan.
JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan