Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Christy Doran. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Christy Doran: – I grew up in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland as the son of an Irish ballad singer and a Swiss accordeon player. When I was 10 years old my family shifted to Luzern, Switzerland, my mothers hometown (where we still live). In Ireland my parents used to play in a dance-band every Saturday night in the town-hall in Greystones. If my dad was not singing he played the drums.
They used to rehearse now and then, (in my bed-room;-), so I heard quite a lot of jigs etc. but also Frank Sinatra songs and so on. With 6 I would have liked to play guitar as I had heard a singer/guitarist at a show in Greystones singing the cowboy song “Davy, Davy Crockett, the king of the wild fronteers” – but my parents could not afford it. So I had to wait until I was 12, already in Switzerland, where I got a guitar and the first lessons.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
CD: – I grew up with music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, John Mayall, etc. and listened to the sound of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton a.o. But when I saw Jimi Hendrix on TV (it was at the Marquee Club in London) I was immediatly attracted. As a teenager I had a “Hendrix”-trio with a jazz drummer and Bobby Burri on el. bass with whom I still play in the jazz-group OM (with Urs Leimgruber/reeds and Fredy Studer/drums).
When Hendrix died the jazz-drummer gave me a bunch of jazz names to check out: Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Art Farlow, Joe Pass etc. At about 20 I received the LP “Extrapolation” (John McLaughlin) and that was a big influence. The band OM started off and about 2 years later played the jazz-festival Montreux and also got in touch with Manfred Eicher/ECM. We recorded five LP’s which were released on Japo/ECM. Of course I was also listening to other guitarists on ECM (Terje Rypdal, Bill Frisell a.o.)
I also listened to a lot of keyboard-players (Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, a.o.) and being the “harmonizer” in the band OM, I was looking for a fat sound, distorted, but that one could still hear each note of the chords.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
CD: – If I don’t have anything specific to practice f.e. for an upcoming concert or concert tour, I just pick up the guitar and see what comes into my fingers. Mostly something pops up which could be an idea for a tune or just a pattern or so which I would “chew” and try to develope. I love Indian music which is a big inspiration especially pertaining to rhythm.
JBN: – 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?
CD: – Actually I think more in sound as in harmonies or harmonic patterns. I like to have the whole range from noise to more romantic chord structures depending on the bands music and aethetics.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
CD: – As mentioned above: I think the bands aethetics and musical identification sorts that out.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul
CD: – I have always liked the combination of composition and (free) improvisation with all the methods in between!
I think one of the greatist benefits in making music are the moments when music arises – kind of by itself. Music that cannot be repeated. Magic moments!
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
CD: – Not sure if I understand properly… I compose music of which I think is interesting and new. I’m very happy if people like it, but it’s not a priority to please the people. Mostly the people enjoy the concerts – the problem is more to get them to come to the concerts, ha!
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
CD: – Coltrane was very spiritual. I identify myself a lot with my music. It’s me, my self. And being gifted with talent means to make the best of it and share! That’s what we are here for.
Intrerview by Simon Sargsyan