June 14, 2024


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Interview with Caecilie Norby: I always try to transformize the essens of the feeling or atmosphere: Video

Jazz interview with jazz vocalist and percussionist Caecilie Norby. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Caecilie Norby: – I grew up just outside Copenhagen in Denmark with two classical musicians as parents. My mother, Solveig Lumholt was a operasinger at the Royal Danish Opera for 27 years and my father, Erik Norby was a classical twelve tone composer. There was always loud music from the speakers in my house: Symphonies, Arias, Lieder and sometimes Beatles ; ) But never jazz.

But among all the classical records there was one album with the great late american jazz/pop singer Nancy Wilson. The lady with the golden voice! And before I could understand or pronounce one word in english, I fell in love with her music! And that feeling of lazy (compare to Strauss and Puccini) laid back and sexy atmosphere Nancy Wilson created with her style of singing was so soothing for me.

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

CN: – I guess my musicians tone or sound – and that goes for all artists, I guess – is developed by different components: of course by your private life experiences, but also by what you are capable of doing with your instrument and what you aren’t capable of doing. Your personal taste in music and your musical journey shapes your “out-put”. All the musicians, that you have learned from and exchanged stories with over time – on stage and off stage, shape you. You have to take responsibility of letting out both the weak and the strong sides of your musical self. That’s what makes a personal sound.

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

CN: – My mother taught me some classical practice routines, which keep my voice clear the the high register. Other wise I listen to all kinds of music and imitate and search after melodies, rhythms and harmonies that makes me feel good and curious.

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?

CN: – It is both a conscious and unconscious “decisions” – Through a concert I make some conscious decisions about fx wanting the energy to go up during the next 10 minutes, so therefore I will switch a couple of tunes around in the setlist – but most “decisions” when I sing are made unconsciously in the moment. Which notes, which color and so on. When it’s in a solo it is pure improvisation – where I try to make my self clear within the language of music I am capable of performing ; ) – and when it comes to singing fx a ballad, it’s all about timing and frasing. A psychologist told me, that there is a frase for that conscious/unconscious state you are in when you perform. It’s called …

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

CN: – You will actually never know if someone or something is a disparate influence before you have let it in and it has gone through your system. But age and experience are very good elements to have to prevent bigger catastrophes. But it’s no guaranty! ; ) I don’t try to avoid “disparate influences”. In fact it is very important to me in my musical development. I love to be shoved and shaken by new tones, styles, rhythms and people that can blow me away…

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

JBN.S: – Тhe intellect will not be enough to answer this most interesting question, which most many are waiting?

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

CN: – “There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist” should be the text on a sign on every door to a music venue or a concert hall; )

I don’t think that all audiences are fully aware of how much they actually can influence the atmosphere on stage by transferring their love (or the opposite) to the people on stage.

I never do a performance by routine only, but I always try to catch the atmosphere in the hall to see if I can get some “here and now” communication going.

It’s so important for the music that it comes alive evening after evening even though the repertoire is almost the same. New improvisations, new frasing, new elopement in the tunes etc. And Jazz are perfect for that! And Jazz provides that! – and demands that!

I try to give the audience something they expect and something they don’t. ; )

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

JBN.S: – No memoriies?

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

CN: – Nowadays there is a wide scale of different genres mixed up with the most known and traditionel forms of jazz. Old Jazz forms known as in the 1940’s has the last 80 years been mixed with rock, soul, folk and fx eastern european music. So jazz ala 2019 is very much different and more colorful when it comes to expression. There are a large palette of repertoire to choose from if you like to play other than the so called jazz standards. – And then there has been a wave of very good new compositions the last decade or two, that can compete with the jazz songs that most people know.

And then again: There’s a lot of young people that have yet to discover the tradional (and untraditional) jazz – and they are in for a fantastic experience. Nobody has to “sell” jazz or force people to hear it – Music called jazz has a gravity itself ; )

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

CN: – That’s a pretty good description Coltrane made! Music are fluent, it’s uhåndgribeligt, it’s catching the now and communicate in an advanced and supreme way, yet it is including, full of love and grænseløs – and isn’t that what our spirit should be?

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

CN: – I wish, that all people would open our ears and use more energy to understand new music – and in fact that goes for many art forms. When we choose what concert or exhibition we will go to, we listen all too much to the reviewers and family and friends and through them we form our opinions, instead of using our own medfødte curiosity and open-mindedness and shape our own opinions. I wish that …

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

CN: – For the time being I listen to a lot of different danish pop music, because I am attending a music program on national TV where all seven attendants should interpret one song of the other six. That’s a pretty cool idea! I will turn all there hits into difficult uptempo, crazy reharmonizes jazz tunes!!! Haha…

Moreover I listen to Lalah Hathaway, Cecilie Salvant, Rita Marcotulli, Debussy and Ravel – also Miles Davis and som Cannonball Adderley.

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

CN: – The message I try to bring through my music depends very much of the lyric that I’m singing. But I always try to transformize the essens of the feeling or atmosphere I feel myself in the music to my audience.

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

CN: – I wanna take a trip to – let’s say year 2250, because I’m so curious to hear and see what kind of music the upcoming musicians in the next centuries will bring to the table. – And by then, what music from this century, that have survived the test of time. What jazz standards will the Real Book Edition of year 2250 content? If I should turn the time machine button the other way, I would take a trip to the Jimi Hendrix concert at the Woodstock Festival or drop in to hear Charlie Parker in a small club in New York, or be at Filmore West the nights where Aretha Franklin was there – or meet up at a church choir rehearsal in Leipzig when Johan Sebastian Bach had the gig as organist and composer there…

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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