June 20, 2024


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Interview with Sigurdur Flosason: The dicipline leads to freedom! Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if saxophonist Sigurdur Flosason. An interview by email in writing.

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

Sigurdur Flosason: – I grew up in Reykjavik, Iceland. I went to a local music school from the age of five and I guess it came out of that.

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?

SF: – I started out on flute. I wasn’t all that interested in the beginning but something changed around the age of twelf. I got into it more and soon there after knew I might want to become a musician. This is also when I started to play the saxophone as well as the flute.  Hafsteinn Gudmundsson was a great teacher in Iceland who inspired me very much at a critical time. Later on, in the United states, I had the opportunity to study classical saxophone with Eugene Rousseau and jazz with David Baker and later with George Coleman in New York. I was very fortunate with my teachers. In the end, however, one has to learn to be ones own teacher – and that’s tricky!

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

SF: – I think my classical studies had some effect on my sound. A couple of lessons with David Liebman also introduced me to the methods of Joe Allard, which I pursued diligently for a period of time. Furthermore, I think that listening a lot and transcribing solos by various saxophoinst helped develop my sound.

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

SF: – I practice all kinds of intervalic sequences to open up new areas harmonically and I practice improvising on standard tunes, sometimes in all keys.  Sometimes I practice with a digital metronome that can drop out or be silent for random periods. That’s a good rhythmic challenge. I also like to try my hand at poly rhythms; five over two and stuff like that.

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?

SF: – I think it’s an output of what goes in. I’m definitively a harmonically oriented person. I like improvising over harmonically colorful and challenging material. Having listened to a lot of different jazz music over the years, playing dissonant or even free is not strange to me at all, even though I don’t to it very much. It’s just one more step.

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

SF: – I don’t try to prevent anything. Anything that comes out naturally is fine by me.

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

SF: – I think it’s different for different people. There really isn’t one answer to that question. Different proportions are possible. For me, I hope it’s pretty even. I appreciate the intuitive and listening side very much, but a lot of what I work on harmonically and rhythmically could be called intellectual or even deliberate. I strive for a balance and for everything to flow naturally. It may sound like a  contradiction  but to me dicipline leads to freedom!

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

SF: – I only play what I want to play – and that’s a lot of different music in different projects. Some of it could be called exclusive or strange, some of it mainstream or even commercial. I really don’t care as long as it’s right for me. And if the audience likes it, great! So, I have nothing against giving the people what they want, as long as It’s what I want too!

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

SF: – Sorry, nothing I can think off at the moment.

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

SF: – I think it’s important to play new music, music that reflects this day and age in some way and I think that’s the way to get young people interested. I do love the standard repertoire as well and I think it has endless possibilities. Jazz is about how you play or express your self and about who you play with. On the highest level this is above and beyond the question of weather the song is old or new, in this style or that style.

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

SF: – That’s a big question! I don’t know the meaning of life. I think the goal should be to continue and ones path and try to improve while you still can, as a person and as a professional in what ever field one has chosen.

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

SF: – I think things develop for a reason and I would not want to change the development of the world of music a such. I do, however, regret the fact that the record or CD is dying. We’re in a period where a change is taking place. Something is disappearing but the new answers haven’t really fully appeared. In a way we’re in an uncomfortable period right now for the recording musician.

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

SF: – All the classics, different things at different times. Also trying to keep current. Checking out Will Vinson for instance.  Mark Turner is interesting as well.

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

SF: – Honesty and beuty are the first things that come to mind. The music should reflect the people who are making it. In a way, this is the essence of jazz more that any other type of music, I think.

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

SF: – I wouldn’t mind seeing Charlie Parker play on 52nd street. It must have been scary. Also, I think 1959 was an incredibly exciting year for jazz that saw the advent of free jazz, modal music and very complex harmony with what John Coltrane was doing.  It might have been interesting to experience some of all that contrasting music first hand. Apart from jazz, which has had a relatively short history, I could imagine many interesting time travels to different periods in the history of mankind.

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

SF: – What happens next???

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. The best jazz and musician who knows what is cooperation with the media …

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

SF: – I really don’t know. Just trying to do my best and look for the answers!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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