Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter Daniel Cano. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Daniel Cano: – I grew up in Huelva, in the south of Spain. This area is called Andalucía and it’s well known because of the Flamenco music. I became interested in music when I was about 9 years old. I saw my cousin playing the euphonium in the street with a band and I wanted to do the same!
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
DC: – Well, I want to believe that my sound is constantly evolving. I always try to get a clear, round sound -I’m not very keen on colored sound for trumpet. I think that the sound you want to get is in your head and the best way to achieve this is by improving your technique which I practice as much as I can.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
DC: – Metronome is my best friend! I’m very into the Carmine Caruso and Laurie Frink’s methodology which focuses on synchronizing and coordinating your body with the instrument. Also, I work on mentally subdividing the beats in order to improve my timing.
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?
DC: – I try to find a balance when I compose music. From my point of view, harmony itself doesn’t mean much if it’s not related with melody, rhythm, groove, textures…meaning that I have no preferences in harmonic patterns because it depends on the final balance of the composition. For example, if I write a melody with very detailed chord changes then I may prefer to write a different chord progression for the solo section to give more freedom to the soloist.
Regarding your second question, I don’t really think about how dissonant is going to be my playing. I just try to be honest and try to follow what’s going on in the band. Once again, it’s a matter of balance. A single dissonant note in the right moment during an improvisation can be more effective than a bunch of notes “out” over almost every chord.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
DC: – I don’t see any problem on disparate influences as long as you like it. It would be different if you do that in order to please someone else…then it wouldn’t sound like you really mean it.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
DC: – Probably jazz musicians are always looking for that kind of balance but somehow Jazz has a bad reputation for being too intellectual and many people run away when they hear the word jazz! That’s why Miles Davis refused to call it jazz.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
DC: – Yes and no. In my opinion people want to see someone who believes in what he is playing so I’ll try to give them that, but I wouldn’t do any concessions to please anyone … except to my mum, hahaha
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
DC: – I have a recurrent one. There is a great British sax player, Soweto Kinch, who I keep finding casually in places. First time in a jam session in Barcelona where we played together. Second time, I was at the backstage of Ronnie Scott’s having a private lesson with Ambrose Akinmusire. I was playing something for Ambrose and suddenly I heard the door behind me was opened. When I finished playing, I turned back, and Soweto was there! Third time, I’m in London in a random pub having a pint with a friend. I’m very focused in the conversation and at some point, I looked at the table next to us and there he was again! Soweto Kinch! I’m looking forward to the fourth encounter.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
DC: – That’s a very interesting point. Maybe the problem is not how old are the standards but how those standards are sometimes played. I listen very often in jams musicians not paying attention on playing the melodies properly -they use them just as an excuse for the improvisation. If you play something you have to mean it, otherwise people won’t believe you.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
DC: – Music is an important part of my life, but I don’t think it’s everything. I can’t just do music. That’d be, in my opinion, a very narrow way to understand the existence. Perhaps Monty Python has the answer for this…
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
DC: – Mmm, never thought about that … it would be nice if in the musical world everything was about music.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
DC: – Steely Dan, Ralph Alessi, Kamaal Williams, Dave Douglas, Art Tatum.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
DC: – Music speaks by itself. If there is a message it would be different for anyone, like in any form of art I suppose.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
DC: – Washington DC, 1970, Cellar Door to see Miles Davis’ band. Have you heard those live sessions??
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
DC: – Ok! You are interested in someone like me who composes and plays his own music, as many musicians nowadays. Why do you think it is important to support them?
JBN: – Thanks for answers. Because it’s our honor, but when the musician mutually respects our work and he or she cooperates with us, then he will be pleased, and we …
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
DC: – Miles Davis rejected the word “jazz” preferring the term “Social Music – all the social melodies out in the air.” This cryptic statement, as if asserted by an oracle, is the inspiration which drives this work; guided predominantly by intuition whilst still preserving the bonds which deeply connect me to the tradition of this art.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan