Jazz interview with jazz pianist Uriel Herman. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Uriel Herman: – I grew up in Jerusalem and I’ve been exposed to music since I was born. My two parents play the piano not professionally and there was classical music around me all the time. I remember the moment when I fell in love completely, It was when I first heard the second episode of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the last recording of Leonard Bernstein. This is a very specific moment in the theme of the first violin. And this magic, the indescribable, world of emotions and colors. Music sometimes explains our world so much better than words.. that’s what got me interested, Because once you fell in love there was no way back. It’s a love that does not depend on anything.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the piano? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the piano?
UH: – The choice to play the piano was natural to me, we always had a piano at home and even before I started learning to play I would spend a lot with him. Two of my piano teachers I would like to mention are: The pianist Prof. Asaf Zohar, with whom I studied piano for many years and throughout my academic studies, taught me how to touch. How to listen to the sound and feel it .. learn to take advantage of the depths of the piano. The second teacher who accompanied me for many years is the internationally known pianist Mrs. Ilana Vered. For years Ilana would spend hours with me for competitions and concerts and share her huge knowledge with me. They both taught me how important it is to tell a story
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
UH: – My sound as a pianist evolves from listening. Once you can imagine how you want to be heard. And you can hear it. So your sound is quite natural going there. Of course it’s also related to using the whole body, not just fingers in joints or hands. The development of my sound as a composer is related to my development in life .. Search, adolescence .. Experiences translated into sounds..
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
UH: – I think the best practice is to play a lot of shoes, and to let music evolve from concert to concert. Beyond that, of course I practice every day, a lot of Bach and Chopin. And of course it is important to train your ears, learn solos that you love, explore harmony, and play on rhythms that interest you.
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?
UH: – Thank you. My writing and playing is a language that I try to expand and expand. It is esthetically constructed from the worlds that interest me. And colors and dissonances accordingly.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
UH: – I believe that if you get to know yourself and write and play in an honest way, then influences can only do good and develop you as an artist. Once it is done honestly and as soon as you become familiar with yourself and listen to yourself, and learn to distill it, then it becomes unique to you. And yours. In the end you are your music
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
UH: – I think music is a combination of both. Soul of course. And intellect is learning and development. Curiosity.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
UH: – Musicically, no. I think that during the writing it is forbidden for the audience’s wishes to guide you. There is a deeper inner truth. On the other hand, if in a concert the audience wants us to play a certain song, we will obviously do it, with great love
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
UH: – There are so many glorious and memorable moments. Lots of amazing music and lots of great food. And different cultures. One of the most memorable evenings for me was after a performance in a festival in southern France, we shared the stage with the flamenco singer Diego el Cigala, After the performance we spent hours behind the scenes. We talked about music, he sang to us. We laughed madly. We drank a lot. An unforgettable evening.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
UH: – I think more and more young people are interested in jazz. The spontaneity and authenticity of improvisation will always be relevant. And there is so much magic in our past .. In the giants of jazz .. Just have to really listen, and you are hooked.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
UH: – It would be a bit impossible for me to explain the meaning of life. Especially in words. I think that in Coltrane’s music there is something so natural, and with such power … without a doubt the saxophone is like another organ in him. For me music is life. At the same time and together.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
UH: – That people go back to buying CDs / records to pay for music.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
UH: – Shai Meastro new album, Cory Henry, some orchestra music (Brahms, Beethoven Stravinsky), a lot of Bill Evans and many more 😉
JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
UH: – Love. Listening and caring.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
UH: – I will go to the mid 60’ (67/69), and I would find Jimi Hendrix! 🙂
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
UH: – What will happen next? – “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” (David Bowie)
JBN.S: – Thanks for answers, but my question is that you had to ask me your question and not to yourself ????
JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
UH: – Keeping making music.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan