Jazz interview with jazz singer Jonathan Karrant. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Jonathan Karrant: – I was born and raised in Fort Smith, Ar and had a great upbringing there. Music was always in our home growing up and in my Grandparent’s home. However, I’ve always kind of felt that the music picked me.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the jazz vocal?
JK: – Jazz is my heart and soul. I’ve always been really drawn to it since a very young age. I love the quality in it, the freedom and the stories that most of these songs tell. I’ve been lucky enough to study with Seth Riggs, Marilyn Maye and Kurt Elling however, most of what I’ve learned has come with listening and with time.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
JK: – Singing in club’s night after night. Trying new things. Not being afraid to take chances. Learning to be free on stage and tell the truth.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
JK: – I don’t practice or exercise my voice. I’m lucky to work enough that I can try new things on stage. If I feel something doesn’t work, I don’t do it again. I do practice yoga, eat health and try to get plenty of sleep.
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?
JK: – I’d say some of both. While I do try to give to audience some of the melody of the song I can’t help but to fight the melody. Some songs I find more musically playful and others I focus more on the lyrics and meaning of the song.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
JK: – Well, of course certain singers have influanced me on my way to finding my own voice. I find that if I put myself in the momnet when on stage it’s hard to be anything but yourself.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
JK: – Well, for me the intellect comes in choosing material and putting together unique arrangements. When making the music is when the soul comes in. I have to reach inside myself and connect with the musicians and the audience and hopeful take them somewhere emotional.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
JK: – Yes, as Marilyn Maye taught me, you most sing to the people not for the people and I believe in that. When I’m putting together a set list I think about what will please the audience, not just what will please me.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
JK: – The first time Diane Schuur came to see me and she sang with me is a pretty phenomenal memory! And any time I get to sing with her! So much fun!
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
JK: – Jazz is constantly evolving. I think by adding newer songs to the standard list and more originals plus some more contemporary grooves could help. Jazz is a timeless art form and perhaps it does take a more mature ear to understand.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
JK: – Music is in the core of my begin. I pretty much eat, sleep and breath it. It never seems to leave me. It gives me so much. I feel that I’m on this plant to create music that brings people together, allows them to remember, to forget, to evoke joy, sadness, love.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
JK: – Make it less commercial and more about quality and substance.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
JK: – Oh lots of people … classics like Freddy Cole, Donny Hathaway, Nancy Wilson, Modern Jazz Quartet and newer artists such as, Jon Batiste, Gregory Porter, Jason Moran, Karrin Allyson, Lauryn Hill and many more…
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
JK: – New York City around 1965. I just think it would be such an amazing time to be in New York with all the music and art happening.
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
JK: – What draw you to jazz? Do you think it takes a certain type of person?
JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Jazz is my life and for this, in my opinion it is necessary to have a special opinion about life and intelect …
Interview by Simon Sargsyan