June 25, 2024

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Interview with Emanuele Coluccia: Intellect is very incredibly useful: Videos

Jazz interview with jazz pianist, saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer, conductor, teacher Emanuele Coluccia. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Emanuele Coluccia: – I grew up in Galatina, in the south-east end of Italy, where I was born in 1974. Mine was a mid-class family with no specific interest in music. Nothing that could specifically influence me in that direction. My orientation to music mainly developed in three moments: first love was during infancy, thanks to my ears and the habit of listening to pop music that developed among young boys like me; I then received flute lessons during my first school years thanks to the introduction of experimental music classes in public elementary schools. At this time I was focused on listening and practicing music, but the idea of making it a full time occupation in my life came up when I was about 13 years old, as I observed others working and living as musicians and realizing that it was a beautiful way of living life, instead of giving in to what society around me at the time was offering as a future for guys like me: I would never be happy with a “regular job”. I needed adrenaline in my future. I know I needed to engage in a commitment to something more idealistic if I was to be a “happy camper” on Earth.

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

EC: – I started my research in jazz music by imitating those I liked. I spent months trying to play like Chick Corea or Thelonious Monk. It was relatively easy to detect what made this people sound like “them” to me, even though it would take time to “hack” their expression, so to say. Things got harder when it came to my fascination for orchestral music, it’s not as immediate to understand how to bring that multilevel approach into a piano solo improvisation, for example. My sound on the piano is today a continuous mediation between the melodic and the harmonic planes: you can actually see, moment by moment, which of the two is prevailing and how the other one tries to gain space back for itself, or the moments when they are acting accordingly, creating something that never happened before. My sound today has become whatever is born from an idea: the idea of playing close to the edge, ready to bounce off for a jump out of the water, or a brief leap into the abyss with a safety belt, or maybe flying over it for minutes. Yes, for minutes! Although I haven’t been able to catch this kind of moment on the cd: you’ll find leaps and preparation, maybe some interesting small flight, but if you wanna get a long flight you need a live concert.

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

EC: – More than one thing comes to my mind. Generally speaking, practicing more than one instrument is a way to take care of many aspects of music without having to count them off from a list: I spend equal time on piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, flute, drumset, french horn, guitar, almost independently from which of them I will play in my next concert. Each one is asking for a certain specific attention to a specific aspect of music without completely forgetting all other aspects. Even wind instruments have differences that bring the practitioner to use his/her attention in a specific way. For example, how many trumpet players study the french horn? I guarantee that a few minutes of french horn everyday will bring to the trumpet practitioner huge advantages in the formation of the mouth muscles. As for rhythm, we all know that piano and drums are very close friends. I practice drums every time I can, even just looking at drummers. In general, if you wanna improve into something, you basically need to try yourself into whatever doesn’t come to you naturally: therefore, practicing is finding out what comes to you naturally, and fully enjoy it, in order to create a condition where you can run off of it and experiment your ability to keep yourself together into an unknown space. I believe in a strategy of small steps with occasional leaps!

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?

EC: – I have a deep fascination for what happens when breaking a routine. I need to spend a time into stillness, get accustomed to some still image of the world, knowing that it will be contradicted by life soon. Harmony is a world you can live in, a world made of different levels of complexity. For example, I might be hanging around the same scale or chord sequence for a while, but that’s what I need if I wanna be able to really enjoy the effect of a superimposition of triads, for example, or a surprising, arbitrary substitution based on the pure will to “hear” that specific dissonance. Here too I must say: the way I sound has already evolved since the time I recorded Birthplace; when I perform in these days, I’m already living that music more deeply, thanks to a more mature vision of things which has developed since then. Therefore, it can be a conscious decision if I’m really present to the experience.

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

EC: – Thanks for the question, it is very interesting. I don’t know if preventing that is the central issue. It’s a huge task, and it would require ages to perfect it and make you able enough to bring that to life. I focus my attention on being conscious, aware of what’s happening, because I believe that I will be able to interact with whatever happens if only I am there, where and when it happens. So, the central issue is having faith in oneself, keeping peace inside with the aim of relating openly and sensitively to the outside. That means, I don’t try to prevent the outside influence to color what is inside: I concentrate on whatever understanding I need to develop in order to be at peace with myself, so that I’ll be there, where and when life is happening.

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

EC: – Wonderful question here too, thank you. The question can be seen as intellectual or spiritual in itself. Let’s simply say that they must work together. Intellect brings tools into play: thanks to it you can organize the material. The soul, in my vocabulary, is a superior feature of man, one that can even live out of the body and therefore has its own intellect.. I believe intellect is very incredibly useful when takes contentment in its own place and becomes an active mediator between or lowest nature of beautiful, impulsive, dangerous animals, and our superior nature of beings with a soul, or at least with” the possibility of having one”, like mr. Gurdjeff used to say.

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

EC: – Let go straight here: yes, I can be okay with it. But then I expect them to be as lovely to me, to be able or at least to try giving me what I want. Therefore, I don’t concentrate on what they want, because it’s many of them and I would never be good enough to make them happy. I concentrate on what I want from myself, from music, and what I want is vision, joy, love and a deeper understanding of life. Who on earth doesn’t want that? If somebody doesn’t want these things is because they still need life to work on them, and they will eventually get to know what’s important. I can’t do the job for them. What I can do is try to do my best as best as I can, and let those who seek the same enjoy the fruits of my effort, which goes far beyond the cd, this must be remembered: the effort, the main one, is the one that happens in a live concert. Relation is the key. As you well say, it’s a two way relation that happens there: we, as artists, must take responsibility of it, and tell ourselves very clearly where do we wanna go, because no matter how many people will follow, those who will follow will end up in a similar place, and you must be able to say: I brought you there, and I’m happy I did.

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

EC: – With much pleasure!

Let’s stay on the subject then: a few days ago I had a concert in south Italy, I played the whole cd in a festival that is known locally as a folk festival. My friend organizes it, and he does this every year: one of the live acts is from a totally different music genre. So, people was relatively ready to something they wouldn’t normally listen to. Isn’t that a wonderful idea to create something new in a relation?

I talked to people without any prejudice regarding their preparation, ability to understand my music or hostility towards it: I treated them with the same, intact respect I would treat myself. The more I spoke, the more I realized that we really have the power to share, looking far beyond the idea of gratification and entertainment. It was a great concert: maybe those people didn’t experiment the highest ecstasy of listening to jazz deeply and consciously, but believe me: they went home without thinking that jazz music is impossible to listen to. They went back home more ready to listen to what they don’t understand immediately. Did it last? I don’t know. All I know is I tried, and you know what? I played for them with the same exact joy and effort I would put into a gig at the Blue Note or whatever important festival on Earth!

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

EC: – When I was young, I didn’t fall in love with a standard tune. I fell in love with fusion, with Weather Report, and Jaco, and Chick Corea. That made me seek for instruction, until I found somebody who helped me understand WHAT those musician where doing. This process, eventually, made me deepen my understanding of HOW they were doing it, leading me to discovering that it was based on a tradition. What I’m saying is, I can’t expect this to happen by itself in the head of a common listener. I must strive to be playing music for them too, but I must also consider how my effort is being received. I insist: live concerts are the key, plus parents who bring kids to live concerts since the earlier stages of personality development. We need a more self aware society!

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

EC: – John Coltrane has been a deep influence for the way I work on harmony and improvisation, and it was no surprise for me to get in touch with the things he said about life, spirituality and music. Life is meaning. Life and Spirit are one thing. if it doesn’t look like that to you, the fault is in your vision, not in life itself – as Brian B. Walker says. It took me 44 years to understand it, and I see now how difficult it can be for a young man with no instruction to see it.

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

EC: – I wish all musicians became self aware, enough to understand the importance of their influence in the world and to then share that understanding, so that they can influence it more effectively towards a spiritual renaissance. We must pursue inner peace as strongly as we can, ‘cause things aren’t exactly looking good and I don’t just wanna sit and look. I’m supposed to do what’s necessary to help humanity get better. I am humanity. It’s about loving yourself!

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

EC: – Many different things: Stephan Micus can really make me “think” deeply.. with a totally different thought quality. I love the work of Branford Marsalis, he makes me hear what exactly makes jazz sound like jazz, he can really make me focus on that and that helps me understand better what I am, what MY roots are and what I am supposed to play. I do a lot of meditation nowadays, so I should say, my habit of listening has moved from the music of man to the music of everything, so to say. I like listening actively to silence. I know it may sound philosophical, but believe me it’s very concrete, as much as listening to your own body, which I like too!

I go crazy for all the latest works of the young geniuses of our time, in all musical fields. Jacob Collier, Louis Cole.. I can’t help not admiring that interesting style, they have a harmonic complexity and at the same tame the appeal to be succesful, and they are. It’s objectively interesting. Can’t say I listen to them a lot though, I tend to get tired and eventually go back to Stephen Micus, feeling I could literally live into his music!

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

EC: – Nice! So, I’ll be very short and very provocative: I would use the machine to get to NOW, HERE. Why? Because here and now is all that exists, and we often get separated from it by fear, doubt, anxiety, pride, anger, depression.. and so on. All we need is to root ourselves into the now.

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

EC: – Your questions are very interesting. I have the feeling you made them to me because you knew I would like them! If you always do like this, you probably have learned a lot from musicians about their way of thinking, their world, their desires and preferences, what they love and what they hate. Is that true? What feedback would you give me about the things I shared with you, thanks to your experience with others?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Yes, of course …

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

EC: – I have to say, I’ve been writing very fluently so far, until I read this last question! English is not my mother language, so I’m having trouble with the verb “to harness”, because I can’t put into context the translation I found on the vocabulary. If I had to sum up this interview into a single word, I would be sure to say it: I feel gratitude. Thank you Simon!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Emanuele Coluccia

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