Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist and composer Jacob Munk Nielsen. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Jacob Munk Nielsen: – I grew up in the suburb 25 km outside Copenhagen. There where a lot of music music in my childhood home. My father was a amateur drummer and all us children played in the local music school. I started playing the recorder, at a young age. So music was just an natural everyday part of life.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the saxophone? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the saxophone?
JMN: – A saxophone was available and the saxophone teacher asked me if I would like to try it. I was hooked! I think I was around 11 years old at that time.
I studied with this teacher for about 7 years and played in a lot of different constellations in the music school. I then went on to a more advanced music school and studied with the renowned danish saxophonist Lars Møller for 3 years before studying music at Copenhagen university.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
JMN: – Being on the advanced music school was a big inspiration. Listening to and playing with other saxophone students and being introduced to many of the great saxophone players through time was a big part of shaping my sound.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
JMN: – Nothing special. Just playing the horn everyday.
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?
JMN: – I play what I hear. I can almost always hear some blues elements in a song and play on that as a starting point when I improvise.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
JMN: – I have the final say on every aspects.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
JMN: – When I write music, I always start out with the soul part of it. Inspiration can come from many things. An accidental phrasing when I play, or art in all forms. After that comes the intellectual part constructing it into a complete song. So I’ll say 50/50 for my part.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
JMN: – Depends on the venue I’m playing at. But sure, it can give a boost on stage when you see the audience enjoying them selfs.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
JMN: – Nothing special comes to mind.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
JMN: – I teach saxophone and band in a local music school, and my experience is that if the tune is fun to play, it doesn’t matter how old it is. Sometimes I wrap and old swing tune in an funky modern beat arrangement, or write some new music for the ensemble. Jazzmusic is so versatile.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
JMN: – I think it is individual and everyday I’m trying to explore the meaning of my life.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
JMN: – Free music education for all children. When you played music together, you get a profound understanding for each other. The world needs that.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
JMN: – Bob Mintzer, Ollie Wallace a young brilliant danish altosaxplayer and another dane tenorsaxophonist Mads Hansen’s album Five.
JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
JMN: – No specific message. Let the music speak to you and take time to listen.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
JMN: – I would like to have been around in New York in the late 80’ties start 90’ties. So many great musicans, that have influenced me with their music/sound, around at that time.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan