Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Jon Eberson. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Jon Eberson: – I was born in 1953 and grew up in Oslo. My father Leif Eberson was a jazzmusician. He played the guitar, and I got interested in the music he played and what he listened to, when I was just a kid.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?
JE: – I got interested because of my father. He was one of the best guitarplayers in Norway at the time, and I became fascinated. It was quite natural for me to start playing the guitar. I have no formal education in music, and I did not have private lessons. I have educated myself by rehearsing and by listening to other musicians.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
JE: – My sound is influenced by listening to the records of people like John Coltrane and Miles Davis – by listen to how they approach the phrases with feelings and emotions. This has been developed over the years. I have played officially since 1970 and I have been part of a wide specter within jazz; freebag, pop-fusion, jazzfunk, standards and other forms of contemporary improvised music.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
JE: – I practice a lot with metronome
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?
JE: – That´s right; there is some dissonance. I was very conscious to have some dissonance on this album in order to create more tension. In many of my other records I use the dissonance in a more obvious way.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
JE: – I have never copied any solos or rhytme patterns from other musicians, so I don`t consider this as a problem.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
JE: – I don´t know if I can give You a good answer. To me the whole point is that You cannot separate the two. The intellectual part is a tool to lead you to create drama, passion and soul.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
JE: – I would not play any particular style just to please an audience.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
JE: – Well there are many stories. One of the specials one is from 2006, the making of “Bring it on” (Jon Eberson Trio with Per Zanussi and Torstein Lofthus). I had made some tunes that we were supposed to play. But when we should start playing in the studio, I had a terrible toothache. In order to forget about the pain, we just played on – constantly freebag during the whole session in the studio.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
JE: – Well, the “old” tunes are still there. If they had not been good, they would have disappeared. For 20 years I have worked as a teacher at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, with students in jazz and improvisation. The list of youngsters who wants to study at the Academy is large. They show a great interest – also for the roots of jazz and standards.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
JE: – “Always look at the bright side of Life” – even if You are depressed!
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
JE: – At my age You can´t change anything. But I really don`t like the way the commercialization in music has expanded over the Years. So I would like to go back to a time that does not exist anymore.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
JE: – I still listen to my old favorites, musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Bill Evans.
JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
JE: – If I can move people, then it´s ok.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
JE: – There is one place I would have been. John Coltrane Quartet played in Oslo in 1967 or 1968. I was unfortunately too young to go there, but that is a concert I really would have experienced!
JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
JE: – I am satisfied with working with young eager student. I receive artist salary from the State. And I am happy to rehearse daily om my guitar, and to play some concerts occasionally. Due to various problem with my health, I cannot be as active as I used to.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan