May 28, 2024

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Interview with Tobias Meinhart: Enjoy life and have empathy: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Tobias Meinhart. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – 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?

Tobias Meinhart: – I always try to have a strong melodic aspect in my playing. My desire is to use the saxophone as an extension of my voice and have the characteristics of a singer whenever I am playing. The master of this was Coltrane. Even through his fastest lines and his sheets of sound you have this strong melodic sense which goes straight to the heart. And of course harmony is important to create this, to have dissonance and good voice leading for tension and resolution.

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

TM: – Hm, I am not really concerned about this as I am hoping my voice always comes through somehow. A few times I had to stop listening to strong influences for a while because their gravitas was too strong. But I also like losing myself in one of these influences and explore them deeply, which I believe helps finding my own voice as well.

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

TM: – I think I answered it partly in the first question. For everyone it might be different, for me both are very important. Again this is why I love Coltrane. He is a perfect example for combining both. Inventing and exploring complex harmony (Coltrane changes, Giant Steps etc) but always with a lot of soulfulness. Of course there are many great examples for this. One doesn’t go without the other. If I had to choose though I’d go for soulfulness… it’s harder to obtain and often for me there is a bit too much intellectualism in jazz today.

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

TM: – Yes, at least to a certain degree. I think it’s important to have the audience in mind. This was also a learning process for me. One thing I definitely learned from playing with older, more experienced musicians like Kurt Rosenwinkel or Ingrid Jensen. There is nothing wrong with playing a good swinging Blues for example. But I also like to challenge the audience and keep them on their toes. Again, it’s a matter of balance.

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

TM: – A pretty crazy thing happened to me on our Cd-Release tour recently. It was the third concert I think, the club was packed, journalists there to write reviews etc. We had a fairly terrible soundcheck and I felt very uncomfortable during almost the whole first set, didn’t feel connected to the music. Everything I tried in order to get to a flow failed… We finally got to the song I have written for my grandfather “Alfred” , named after him- who was a bassist and got me into jazz – and I suddenly felt this huge presence of him on stage, tears coming to my eyes and I felt him telling me, “Just play, don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of you..” From that moment on I stopped thinking and was in the music. Amazing experience, something like that never had happened to me before. Probably just my own sub-consciousness, but who knows…

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

TM: – Get them into the clubs and experience it live. I really feel especially Jazz should be experienced live. Apart from that I think it also helps if musicians compose as well and combine it with standard repertoire. Like this automatically new influences are coming into jazz. I absolutely feel that jazz is still evolving and such a broad term – it definitely has an appeal to younger audiences, just look at some clubs in New York like Smalls or in Berlin like Donau115 and ZigZag. It’s full of young people. Maybe it just has to spread more.

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

TM: – That it is less about business and more about the music.

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

TM: – Enjoy life and have empathy.

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

TM: – I’d love to travel to the 60’s and see Miles with Coltrane.

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

TM: – How did you get interested in Jazz? How is the jazz scene in Armenia. Any plans for visiting NY? What would you say, if any, is the biggest difference from Jazz made in the US now vs Jazz coming out of Europe? (you can choose one 🙂

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. I became interested in jazz two decades ago, when I visited jazz concerts in Europe. Of course, in Armenia, my homeland, there is jazz and every year is good, but I live in Boston most of the time and visit New York more often.

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

TM: – (Not sure if understand…) still trying to learn and absorb as much of the jazz culture here in New York while finding my own place and voice in all of this as a Bavarian town boy.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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