May 24, 2024

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Interview with Tim Sund: Intellect can make music into an art: Video

Jazz interview with jazz keyboardist Tim Sund. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Tim Sund: – I grew up in a small town called Hohenlimburg, now part of Hagen, south west of the so- called industrial area “Ruhrgebiet” in the middle west of Germany. My father has always been painting and I was very much into painting myself as a boy.  On the other side my grandpa (from my mother´s side was a semi-professional violinist and he made me start with music at the age of 5. I loved music from the beginning and showed some talent to play anything I picked up on the radio directly on the piano, which no-one around me was able to do. When my music teacher at school showed us ELP´s version of Pictures at an Exhibition, my path was clear to me: I wanted to make music, wanted to play synthesizers as well as the piano and create my own music.

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

TS: – Besides following my instincts and trying to understand all the music I loved and had some really important teachers, who helped me on my way to become myself musically, the most famous being Richie Beirach and the late American composer and educator Ludmila Ulehla.

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

TS: – Besides being trained classically on the piano as well (I had a great classical teacher until I graduated from high school at the age of 19), inspired by my teachers I developed my own exercises from the very beginning. I think I have pretty good sense and ability to deal with rhythms. I also studied drums as a second instrument while studying at the Cologne School of Music in the early 90s.

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?

TS: – Well, I see everything in terms of balancing tension and release, and it´s always a matter of context how much dissonance can be brought in.

If we deal with simple harmonic structures a b9 might just be enough tension, but if we are in a much more complex situation, we might need polychordal harmonies or upper structure chords with many alterations.

But whatever the context might be, the horizontal movement of the voices, the voice-leading is the most important factor. A good voice-leading could justify the most unusual chords.

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

TS: – Honestly, I think there has always been this essence of what you might want to call the “Tim Sund Sound” and whatever I do, study or practice… it has always just enriched my own sound. I believe that whatever you really love about someone else´s music is resonating with you, because it mirrors your own stylistic tendencies and tastes. So there is not such a big danger of ruining your style by studying others unless you only copy one and the same guy the whole time. You should have a broader interest in music and study everything.

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

TS: – Intellect can make music into an art but without soul music doen´t mean anything to me. Pure intellect without passion, inner fire and believe doen´t not touch me at all.

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

TS: – I think my job is see and feel what an audience needs and not what it wants. We musicians are the experts in this field and should be greatful, if people come to our concerts and entrust us with their time. And then we should give them more than could have dreamed of, and sometimes something completely different of what they might expect.

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

TS: – As we are speaking about the album Butterfy Effect: the whole idea as well as the name of the album goes back to a gig seme years ago, where I played with almost exactly the Butterfly Effect personell. especially our performance of Hancock´s Butterfly that night was so magical and special that everyone in the room was completely overwhelmed. Right after this set the idea of Butterfly Effect was born.

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

TS: – On one side we have to teach and educate them about this great old American Song Book. On the other side we should be open to include younger song material as well. But for this the contemporary jazz musician must leave his secure jazz shelter and go out into the world and listen to the music of today as well.

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

TS: – Did he really say that? I think that music can only be the expression of the spirit that is within you. Music should always be the expression of your spirit – otherwise it lacks of soul (see above). And as the great Joe Zawinul has said: “You have to really live a life to be able to really play music and touch someone.” Otherwise the music is meaningless.

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

TS: – Give more fair chances to the whole music scene and not only a few chosen ones.  In the last decades the music industry has changed dramatically. The first record companies no matter if jazz or pop or rock were run by music enthusiasts, who loved the music. But they are gone long time ago and have been replaced by business men who just want o make fast money. And those have become so powerful, that the small idealistic companies don´t have much of a chance anymore. But it has already started to change with the help of the internet.

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

TS: – My most important musical discovery of the last 20 years has been the progressive rock musician Steven Wilson. My favorite album of his whole catalogue is “the raven that refused to sing”.

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

TS: – My goal is to take the listener on a trip, on a musical journey, and show him things from a different perspective, tell him a story, give him a chance to take a breath from his own life for some time.

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

TS: – There are three options: 1) hanging with Igor Stravinsky in 1918 in Paris, 2) to be in New York in 1939 and witness the birth of bebop, 3) being part of the early Progressive Rock Scene in London in the early 1970s and being friends with Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson and Tony Banks.

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

TS: – How do come up with all these interesting and unusal questions? Is this a catalogue of questions you ask everyone you are interviewing?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Yes, of course, but these questions change in a few months, and these questions are created with interviews by great jazzmen or with them: Barry Harris, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and others.

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

TS: – Funny, but this last question I really don´t understand 🙂

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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