Jazz interview with jazz singer Corina Bartra. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Corina Bartra: – I was born in Lima, Peru. What got me interested in music was my grandfather who would play me old Jazz records from Charly Parker, Sara Vaughan, and Dizzy Gillespie. I also loved to listen to the golden age of rock like Janis Joplin and the Doors.
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?
CB: – I chose the Jazz Vocal because mainly its syncopated rhythm and wonderful swing. I play percussion as well and drums. I have also a BFA degree with drums from Long Island University and Mannes College of Music. Loving rhythms so much Jazz appealed so much to me like the Afro Peruvian and Brazilian music which also inspires me. I am inspired by all music from African diaspora cultures. I also love the European melodies and harmonies. Besides having a vocal ensemble I also have an instrumental ensemble where I expand into a wide array of sonorities.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
CB: – I developed over time by listening and playing with great musicians in New York City. Also some from Peru.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
CB: – I try to play percussion every day and learn new songs. there are also times that we can be open towhere I focus in composing music. Besides having a quintet, sextet or septet to accompany my singing, I also have an instrumental project, a mini big band: “Afro Peruvian new Trends Orchestra.’
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
CB: – I am sensitive to consonance and dissonance in a balanced way.
JBN.S: – 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?
CB: – I take a lot of time to meditate and be in contact with myself so that I am not distracted so much and prone to influences which take you from yourself and to what is trendy at the moment.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
CB: – In music there is a balance between soul, intellect and motor skills. One needs to be relaxed so that one can be open to this natural balance.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
CB: – I can give people what they want but also I like to inspire them into listening to other sounds they are not used to or haven’t come to familiarize themselves with. I like to stretch peoples minds and have them participate in other sounds and rhythms the haven’t experiences before. I like to sensitize people and having them appreciate culture and artistic music.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
CB: – I have enjoyed so much the festivals I have participate in the past. Also meeting new audiences in Europe where one finds there is such much more appreciation for culture, Jazz and world music.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
CB: – It is a challenge to have young people appreciate jazz music since they spend most of their time on the computer listening to electronic music. One thing is to motivate them into coming to see live concerts where old standards can be played with entirely new arrangements and flavours.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
CB: – Musicians like John Coltrane or Alice Coltrane where very spiritual in their approach to music. They tune in to music to tune in to a higher Self. I share that with them. Music is a way to the Self and Spirit which pervades everything.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
CB: – I would put genuine musicians back into controlling the music industry and not this corporate people who see artists as commodities and they look for musicians they can easily mold and manipulate them into being commodities. These people in my view are just destroying culture and they show also a lot of ignorance. Save yourself from them.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
CB: – I listen to the old masters, also to new musicians worldwide. I also listen to Classical music and world music from around the world. The prime message is just good music. I dont spend all my time in New York now, I like to be in places where the culture is still very organic.
JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
CB: – Through my music I bring joy and brotherhood.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
CB: – I love the European romantic period and also ancient times where great civilization where flourishing in the east and the west. Also the sixties in America.
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
CB: – How did you get motivated to do music interviews and a music magazine? Did you enjoy music as a child and how did you expressed that?
JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. I love Jazz and Blues musics. Jazz is my life!!!
JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
CB: – Thanks Simon for the interview. Once you can gather all the elements which make for good music and well being you can harness a lot of power available to us to participate in.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan