Jazz interview with jazz bassoonist Arseniy Shkaptsov. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start withwhere you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Arseniy Shkaptsov: –I grew up inOryol (Russia) in a family of musicians, my father is a chef conductor of OryolGovern Symphony Orchestra and mother is the violinist and works in the sameorchestra. Obviously, raised in a family of musicians I also wanted to be amusician, and then at age 8 I started to play violoncello, then I didn’t likeit and I switched to violin, then also I was bored and didn’t want to playviolin but still wanted to be a musician. So then, we went to my father’ssymphony orchestra to try different instruments and I liked very much bassoon,it’s sound specially. So at age 11 I started to play bassoon, and at age 13 I wentto study alone to Moscow, because in my city there was no bassoon teacher and Istudied with a clarinet professor. So, in Moscow there is a special school formusicians where you live and study, called Central Music School byP.I.Tchaikovsky, there I studied with professor Stanislav Katenin and at age 18I went to study to Lugano (Switzerland) with professor Gabor Meszaros and whereI still live.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What didyou do to find and develop your sound?
ASH: – For thebassoon players the thing that influences most the sound is a bassoon reed, so,step by step you develop your skills on making reeds in a way that you feelcomfortable to play and produce a nice sound. Of course also your embouchure,breathing, lip muscles, but I think reeds are really important.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
ASH: – Usual stuff what everyone does: long tones, scale. Ando forthe rhythm of course playing with metronome and good drummer.
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?
ASH: – I would say that I’m more melodic musician, maybe because I was raisedmostly with the classical music. But any way I like to hear in a jazzimprovisation a kind of “new composition”, like a composer who composes a newtune in a real time. Like Charlie Parker did, some of his improvisations becamestandards. And also, I have a big influence by Stan Getz, I love his playingand his melodic improvisations. I like also a modern jazz, I love a lot JoshuaRedman and Michael Brecker styles. But here in a bossa nova I wanted to havesmooth and melodic improvisations for a wide public.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
ASH: – I think it’s not possible. Youmight have your own idea, but anyway you get influenced by the time in what weare living, music that we listen, so, I think maybe not in a direct way butanyway we get influenced by the things we like.
JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <Bassoonova>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
ASH: – I really started to love bossa nova when I played it a lot onthe different gigs, and it sounded so good on the bassoon and many people toldme that it sounds great on the bassoon, it has a different timbre and warmersound than on sax. So, later on I thought that I have to record an album withbossa on the bassoon, and call it bassoonova, with a smooth concept like StanGetz did it with Gilberto.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
ASH: – Mine is 80% soul 20% intellect.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
ASH: – I like to be natural with the public, talk with them, tellthem some stories of the songs, present the musicians, tell some jokes andsurprise them with. I think artist should think also about the public and notonly about personal ambitions, know where you are playing, for who, what theconcept of the concert etc.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
ASH: – I rememberwe were going on the gig and our car has broken 15km before the place we wereplaying and then we were late for the gig, we took a taxi we have played, andthen we had to go back with the train, but it was late and they were no trainsto go back until the morning, so we stayed on a main train station in Zurichand then after a couple of hours of doing nothing we found an electricity plugand started to play, it was around 3-4 AM in the night, and by 20min we had astation full of the people listening to us. It was amazing, even we havereceived some coins.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
ASH: – Play it in a modern way. Take an example from Amy Whinehouse,she was singing old tunes but in a modern way, look how popular she was.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
ASH: – I think the spirit is the mirror of the things that we aredoing then interpret it how you want.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
ASH: – I would wishthat people would more intelligent to make possible understand more classicalmusic and jazz so it would become more popular like now R&B.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
ASH: – Somehow I’ma conductor too, now I was listening a lot of Beethoven.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
ASH: – I would go to Brazil and meet Antonio Jobim and Stan Getz.
JBN.S: – Would you advice my album to your friends?So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
ASH: – Likeit is.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan