July 19, 2024


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Interview with Al Turner: Intellect is paramount to me, there must be integrity in the music: Video

Jazz interview with Jazz bassist Al Turner. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Al Turner: – I am born and raised in Detroit, MI. I grew up in the 60’s when Motown was thriving and still recording in Detroit. My Mom use to take my older brother and I to the Motown Reviews. There we would see all of the Motown acts perform. Along with my brother and several cousins, we formed a singing group mimicking the Temptations. This led to our interest in musical instruments.

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

AT: – My older brother started playing guitar and I wanted to play drums. Because of the noise that would come from a drum set, our parents did not want drums in the house. So, my brother suggested that I play bass. I saved up my paper route money and bought a Kimberly Bass Guitar from an electronics store in Detroit. I was 12 years old and didn’t know anything about the Bass Guitar. I learned from listening to those Motown records that we had in the house from our singing days. My brother and other musician friends in the neighborhood would also show me things to practice. After graduating from high school, I started playing in local bands. One of those bands featured vocalist Anita Baker. We played all over Detroit and parts of Canada. I then started private lessons with Bassist Ralphe Armstrong and Lamont Johnson. These are two of the greatest Bassist of our time! Both have their own unique style and sound. I learned so much about being a solid Bass Player from them.

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

AT: – My sound has evolved and is still evolving. The most important thing that really helped my sound evolve was being able to play on records. I am very Blessed and Fortunate to have recorded with Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Earl Klugh, Bob James, Randy Crawford, KEM, Patti LaBelle, Nancy Wilson and so many other Legendry Artist. I learned so much about the process of making records from my good friend and producer Michael J. Powell. He gave me the opportunity to play on many of his productions. I own him a great deal of gratitude.

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

AT: – I still practice scales, arpeggios, rhythmic and melodic patterns daily. Also, I transcribe solos from the greats.

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? 

AT: – I do prefer more harmony over dissonance. Only because that’s what I hear and feel. I try to keep the listener in mind when I record my records. I love a great melody and something that will catch your attention.

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

AT: – I have always and will continue to create from my heart. I can only do what comes naturally. You cannot have your own identity by allowing disparate influences color what you do. I have to be true to myself.

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

AT: – I truly think that they are equal. Intellect is paramount to me, there must be integrity in the music. Soul is what make the music alive. It has to breathe, move and create emotions like 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? 

AT: – I am absolutely comfortable giving people what they want. It is my belief that people what you to be the best you that you can be! As with any relationship you have to be honest and open to give and receive.

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

AT: – There are so many great memories from my 40 plus years in the industry. A few that I would like to mention are: Playing on my first Aretha Franklin recording session. Playing a duet with Earl Klugh at the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people. Touring the world and experiencing so many different cultures. Watching the sunset in Hawaii with my Beautiful Wife before our show at the Blue Note. Hearing my songs being played on the radio. I am Totally Grateful!!!

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

AT: – Jazz is a vital part of our history and culture. We must start teaching and educating our children at a very early age. Children are like sponges, they will absorb much of want they are exposed to if it is presented in the right way. Jazz can’t be forced on them. We have to make it a fun and loving experience. It is like getting a child to eat their vegetables. Once they begin to get a taste for Jazz and understand the importance of it, the experience becomes easier. We must also be creative in our approach. Incorporating musical elements that are current can also help in keeping our young people interested in Jazz.

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

AT: – I am a Christian and I Believe that we are Spiritual Beings. The meaning of life is to Love and Serve God and Our Fellow Man! Music is such a big part of our spirit and our lives.

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

AT: – To remove all of the barriers and prejudices.

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

AT: – I listen to a very broad range of music. Everything from Jazz to Gospel to R&B to Pop. I listen to a lot of older records for the Masters.

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

AT: – I really don’t want to go back but if I had to, the 70’s. That was a great time for me and my development as a musician.

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

AT: – No questions but I want to Thank You for the interview and for your continued quest to keep Jazz alive.

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers.

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

AT: – With Love and Humility!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Al Turner

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