May 28, 2024

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Interview with Jacek Pelc: My soul tells me what to do: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer and percussionist Jacek Pelc. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Jacek Pelc: – Up to 6th year of age, I grew up in the center of a city of Bydgoszcz (Poland). My home was ca 350 meters from main railway station. My father played nice rhythms on a tables, and chairs, he was an artistically talented engineer.  When I was 6 years old, Father has bought a record player, and some best Polish rockn roll, rhythm & blues, and pop vinyl records. Ive played along with two mallets, and brushes on whatever was under hand. There was some really good music, and drummers on these records.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the drums? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the drums?

JP: – For me, picking up the drum set was allways an obvious choice. In the percussion class of Bydgoszczs music school, playing the classical stuff (xylophone, timpani, vibraphone, etc.) was for me like a typical schoolwork. Only by drum set, or snare drum, I had great feeling of musical freedom, which later turned on to be great artistic, and lifetime adventure. My school teachers were open to jazz music, and they helped me to play drum set. Ive learned to play ergonomically, and being effective on snare drum, and drum set. My level today is an effect of my later own work. Already as a student I was transcribing music, and drum parts from records of Chick Corea (with drummer Steve Gadd), Dave Liebman (Al Foster) VSOP Quintet (Tony Williams), and others. All my life afterwards I was working, and making progress under my own concepts.

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

JP: – The evolution of my sound was a natural consequence of practice, and listening to endless number of real music pieces. The more, and better I`ve practiced, the better sound was heard from my instrument. Of course, the quality of an instrument, and equipment was important. Now I am close to my 60 (years old). I am still practicing every day, and I have fun with developing my own individual warm up, and practice rhythm patterns.

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

JP: – I`ve developed an entire book of practice, and warm up patterns for separate, and both hands action, feet with hands / feet patterns. Right now my dayily routine is to play a raw of equal hands notes with flams organized as follows: 8×7 / 8×5 / 12×4 / 16×3, then I play the same pattern on twin bassdrum pedal followed by hands hiting the snare drum, and cymbal. (please look to attached PDF file Jacek Warm Up with rhythm notation).

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?

JP: – Thanks for complex question. Well… My compositions, and accordingly chord progressions or patterns are based on all my life music inspirations. Its coming from my ca 1500 vinyl records, and CDs home collection. Together with all other music I heard, there is an endless number of combinations between melodies, harmonies, rhythms, bass lines, forms, arrangements, etc. Its difficult to make a short choice. However, the classic jazz standard chord progression pattern: 2-5-1 is rather out of question. I am not formally educated composer / arranger. I just have a good ear. At the music college I was familiar with ear training / classic harmony lessons, because there was a very good, and friendly Teacher there. It was a pure, and lucky coincidence. I just do know which notes belong to which chord, and the rest comes from the great music mixture of Weather Report / Joe Zawinul Syndicate, Bill Frisell, Yellow Jackets, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Tony Williams “Lifetime” period, Wayne Shorter, Maurice Ravel, Sergius Prokofiev, Leonard Bernstein,  and much, much more. I do compose, and arrange for drums duets, and the bands starting from classic piano/ bass / drums trio outfit up to a big band, and 40 musicians chamber orchestra. I constantly keep on updating some of my compositions. A good example of an early one from 1983, is piece called CADIZ from my CD “On The Road”, lately updated. A quiet complex song for a quartet. Ive attached a separate PDF file with music notation, and link to YouTube. After a noted part, there is much open space for every instrument to improvise, interpretation, etc.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

JP: – I do not try to prevent a good, great influences. But I don`t copy, either. If I compose, or play, the originality comes naturally regardless of influences. It is the result of coincidence of ingredients. The chord Ab major 7 you can see in millions of music pieces. The variety of Ab major 7 is about context, palette of instruments used, bass position, etc. The reversed flam paradiddles or flam triplets are also frequently played by many drummers, but everybody sounds different playing these. Every drummer has different drums, cymbals, accessories, sticks, drum heads, drum sizes, etc. Disparate influences can be very friendly, and  helpful.

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

JP: – My soul tells me what to do. My soul tells me: Do it. I simply love music, and drumming. Then the intellect comes to action. And the musical knowledge. I think, that I keep a right balance between these above. You can find a lot of emotions, interactions, and joy in our music. Everybody has a big soul, big instrumental possibilities, and I believe that we have a good chemistry between us on stage.

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

JP: – When I come up to a club / festival stage, I find myself in a very fortunate situation with the audience. They come to see, and listen to my music. So all I play is expected by them in some way. They are open minded, and I keep on trying to do my best. I play every gig like a last gig in my life. I tell the stories about compositions, drum solos, and so on. I let the people clap hands with me. It`s always a fun, and I see the audience being satisfied with what I am doing.

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

JP: – All the 80s Ive played in various bands of famous Polish guitar player / bandleader Jarek Smietana. Once around autumn of 1987, we were sitting easy by the dinner table in apartment close to the city center of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. We were on the concert tour, and after two nights at Frankfurter Jazz Keller. For tomorrow our band was scheduled for gig in Koln. Close to 8PM Jarek called the lady in Koln just to say, that we are OK, and tomorrow will be at her place afternoon. Suddenly his face changed. He shouted to the phone: “We are on our way!”. Then he shouted to us: “Gentlemen! The gig in Koln is TODAY at 9PM!” We all jumped to our feets, then we jumped out of our pyjamas. We got dressed, grabbed our handy stuff, and in quarter of an hour we were on the road to Koln. When we got there about 11PM, there were only  few people left out of big crowd of fans, and local musicians. The lady had to give back the ticket money to the people, and she was really upset. Regardless of the atmosphere of disappointment, we took all our equipment from our cars, fixed it on stage, and played 3 hours long jam session for the lady, and her crew members of the place. That night was also very special due to non musical reason. Close to 4AM we were treated by 80% pure cocaine by our fan. 15 minutes after that, we unpacked the cars already packed, fixed instruments on stage again, and played like hell until 8AM. Then for ca 30 hours we were very active without any signs of fatigue. That was the only one case in our lifetime that we were so late for a gig. Just a small mistake in the booking schedule.

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

JP: – The more I play, the more I recognize jazz standards as a perfect material for students. Of course you can rearrange, or update standards endlessly. However, we can play our original music, which is totally contemporary, even if it sounds little bit old school. From my drummer`s point of view,  I am using a twin bass pedal, which sometimes gives my fusion music some blast-like, speed metal-like feeling. Fresh breath. Open minded jazz drummers are interested in that kind of implements to jazz. It is a fun, and young people may feel more familiar with such a rhythms I play. Then, if every band member is a total virtuoso, and plays his ass of onstage, usually all the public is involved, and satisfied. I see the people of any age in the audiences.

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

JP: – Such a jazz luminaries like Coltrane, Bird, Jaco, were the greatest, but all the same tragic artists, unfortunately. They died on their own request. If you look to some Coltranes band members cover photos on record, the only person laughing from ear to ear is Elvin Jones there. He looks like a child inside a big toy shop. For me music is a love, but not dramatic one. If you can live from your own music, its the greatest thing for a musician ever. I prefer to be cheerful, smiling, happy person rather than a nervous, shaking man depending on drugs, and alcohol. I have a family, and I am an ordinary man. My main passion is music, but I am also involved in other fields. Ive projected, and built a 13,60 meters high observation platform / tower on my ground piece in the country. In my new house there will be installed my original, super economical, but still very effective, air cooling ventilation / AC system. There will also  be a total free of charge hot tap water system invented by myself. Ive made several long distance, inter city trips on my trekking bike. The sum of ca 55 000 kilometers.

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

JP: – In the world of real music I would change nothing. The real music is always OK, and keep a god shape. Good music is making the world better. Its making people happy. If I would be able to change anything, that would be a bad commercial  music. Sometimes stupid sounds drives me out of supermarkets, I just cannot make shop in there. I have the list where to go, where not. Some radio stations play all the bull shit round the clock. Some people play it often forcing you to take notice. The quantity goes against the quality. So the one thing about the music I would change is stupidity. But I know its impossible.

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

JP: – I love listen to musicians who play perfect rhythmically. Such as Michael Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Sony Rollins, Joshua Redman, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, between others. Even if you are a excellent drummer, you can stick to their drives, and the effect is amazing. Rhythm is everywhere, I love it. I love to record, and mix multi tracks. My CD is mixed by myself. It means a lot of listening, too.

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

JP: – I heard an interesting point of view from my older friend – a drummer, vocalist, photographer, and rally car driver from Poland, Mr. Andrzej Dabrowski. He told me, that he would be totally happy if the age of 30 could stop for twenty years. And that could make you being 30 years old for the long period of time. Accordingly, my dream is to play a series of gigs with orchestra, and big band, on renown festival stages. With my music, and me on drums. It should happen exactly 29 years ago when I was 30.

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

JP: – Oh, I would have a lot o f questions… Im afraid my list is to long. So lets skip that, please.

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

JP: – I do it just by taking every possible thing easy. Music was always a pleasure for me. If a piano teacher forced me to do borrowing school work, Ive just avoided it in every possible ways. Accordingly Ive spared my precious time to do pleasant things. So I feel happy, and I wish everybody to be happy.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Jacek Pelc

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