June 14, 2024

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Interview with Daniel Erdmann: Live in the middle of the moment: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Daniel Erdmann. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Daniel Erdmann: – I grew up in Braunschweig, Germany. freinds of my parents were musicians playing Jazz-Rock so very young i got into contact with that style. There is also a strong Jazz Organisation there and i could hear a lot of great Jazz artists in my youth.  when i was eleven (until 14) we moved to the US (close to Baltimore and Washington, DC) and i started playing in the school bigband there.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the saxophon? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the saxophon?

DE: – I got in contact with the saxophone because my uncle hat one at home , he wanted to learn it but it was difficult for him. One day when i was ten i was at his house and tried playing the saxophone. there was a direct connection, also my uncle noticed it and he gave me his saxophone. Then i got first lessons from a a local saxophone player. in my first lesson i learned to play „Summertime“. I knew very fast that this was going to be my life…. back in Germany when i was 14 i started taking lessons with different teachers and very fast found the one who really helped me : George Bishop, who was an american saxophone player living in Braunschweig. He really taught me how hard i had to work to get to another level. It was hard but worthwhile 🙂 . When i was 18 i passed the entrance exam to the Hanns Eisler Conservatory in Berlin to study with Gebhard Ullmann. He was an amazing teacher! i learned what i had to do to really devellop my own way of playing. I was really very lucky with my teachers.

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

DE: – Sound was always an important thing for me. i also did some singing in my teenage years and i feel the saxophone is very close to the human voice. of course in the beginning i tried to sound like some of my heros , from Stan Getz to Dewy Redman…. but at some point i wanted to sound like „me“ . The way to get there is not really an intellectual process , it´s finding out what what i really wanted to hear, listening to myself.

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

DE: – At this point i keep up some exercises from my time with Gebhard Ullmann that keep the fingers fluid, and i improve by going deeper into the tunes i play, by trying to play more essential things. and i learn from my collegues, i ask what they are practising and sometimes discover new things that i have never tried . there are also alot of clssical things to be played, like Bach and many others. Those are sometime difficult on the saxophone and help to get better, musically and technically .

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?

DE: – Thanks for that question. i definelty move towards harmony and melody. i have always liked this very much but now i feel i can play this and still sound like myself. i still like dissonance, but i like ti use it as an element that make the harmony even stronger when coming back to it….

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

DE: – I´m not really sure that i have to do that. i get a lot of infuences, alot of inspiration from other types of music or art. the important thing is that the result is something i really hear inside.

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

DE: – Nice question again! i think it is different for every musician. But for me this is like in everyday life, it has to be in balance. Not every time what you feel is the best solution, but on the other hand its good to follow your instincts. For me this balance got better over the years, there was some try-and error on the way. the right balance counts.

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

DE: – I´m not sure of what the people want, but in a concert situation i have the feeling that most of the time the audience gets aware that we are giving everything we have in each concert, and this opens the minds, and energy flows back from them. like you say: it´s an exchange.

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

DE: – Maybe a memory from a concert in Russia then: with Das Kapital we had a small tour, i think in 2011. we had a concert planned in Samara in a club, and everything was alright at the soundcheck. but just before the concert the electricity went down in the builing of the club, so it was not possible to play there. after a short discussion someone from the audience proposed to move the concert to a vacant room they knew, 10 minutes walk away. so everyone from the audience carried a piece of the drumset, a musicstand , some chairs. it was a small room so we could play an accoustic concert, very close to the audience. it was a great experience of sharing a moment with music and a completely improvised situation.

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

DE: – I think that it does not really matter how old a tune is. Classical music has survived over the centuries … and also young people like it. it´s more a question of providing a good music education in schools and also the media have a role play there, they have to use more high quality music. Also we have to do more concerts in schools and show young peopole what improvisation is and where it comes from.

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

DE: – In terms of spirituality yes for me there can be a lot in music as well, it can be a form of meditation . With music i can really be „in the moment“ . The meaning of life? i thinnk it´s up to us to give life  a meaning, in all good and bad things that happen.

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

DE: – I think and hope that things move in the right direction by themselve… i can only try to do the right things in my own music and behavior.

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

DE: – Very different things! i always get back to listening to the great historic  tenor saxophone players, but i like to listen to any kind of music, from Bach to Björk

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

DE: – Live in the middle of the moment.

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

DE: – I want to hear the Coltrane quartet live in a club in NYC for 2 weeks in a row, not an excpetionnel wish for a jazz tenor player i guess.

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

DE: – How do you see european jazz?

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. Fine, but do not your!!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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