May 25, 2024

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Interview with Morgan Day: Тhe feeling (or soul) of the music is where passion and creativity come from: Video

Jazz interview with jazz bandleader, singer and drummer Morgan Day. An interview by email in writing.

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

Morgan Day: – I grew up in Redding, CA, where I was participated in marching band in middle school, and then in high school I participated in choir and musical theater.  My parents were supportive of my brothers and I learning music, and they encouraged all of us to take music lessons or classes in school.

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

MD: – Growing up I bounced around from a lot of interests.  I started on the viola, then the alto sax, before reaching high school and joining choir.  In college I learned to play the guitar, but I specifically became interested in jazz music around then and took up swing dancing.  Since then, swing dancing became a major part of my life and lead me to find appreciation of jazz music from the early 20th century.  It was through dancing that I began to pursue playing jazz music which lead me to playing the washboard and drums.

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

MD: – I still consider myself a student when it comes to percussion.  I know there’s so much more I have to learn and work on, but I think my experience as a swing dancer really helped me have a strong foundation in rhythm and tempo.

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?

MD: – Although I lead the Mad Hat Hucksters, the music is still the result of a collaborative effort from all of the musicians.  We have been playing together now as a band for 4 years, and we have learned to find what works and what doesn’t… we don’t play with many arrangements, primarily only leadsheets.  But in the end the main focus of the band is around swing music for swing dancers.

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

MD: – I think focusing the band on the sound of small combo swing bands of the 1930s helps keep the band’s sound consistent.   We do songs from outside of that time period, but it’s in a style that would fit in that era of music.

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

MD: – I think the feeling (or soul) of the music is where passion and creativity come from.  Those are like the engine that pushes a music forward, but intellect is what steers it and keeps it going where it needs to go.

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

MD: – As I’m a swing dancer, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what dancers what to hear and dance to.  It’s a niche audience, but also one that cares a lot about the music, and there is a strong movement in the swing dance community to support bands that continue to play this kind of music.

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

MD: – Last November, we had the opportunity to perform at the San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza during the Saturday night event where the Hucksters had a battle of the bands with “Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders”.  The format consisted of the bands trading sets, before ending the night with one set where the the bands traded songs before finally finishing with a finale (and encore) where both bands played together as one big band.  It was an amazing experience as a majority of the musicians in the other band are people who inspired me to start my the Hucksters in the first place.

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

MD: – There’s a reason these songs have been around for as long as they have been.  I’ve wanted to get more people interested in jazz and swing music as long as I’ve been dancing, and I still don’t have a clear answer.  There is no single solution, but I think if musicians are passionate and genuine about the music, the audience will find them.

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

MD: – We’re on this earth for such a short time, and music and dancing really allow people to connect in a way they normally wouldn’t.  I have friends from around the world because of music and dancing, and I think experiencing life with people like that is what life is all about.

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

MD: – It would be nice if more local venues supported local musicians and paid them a fair wage.  Everyone in my band has a day job, but I know many of the musicians I work with would love to dedicate themselves to just the music, but they can’t for financial reasons.

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

MD: – I’m a big fan of discovering old music.  Recently, I discovered the band “Joe Haymes and His Orchestra” which were a popular dance band in the 1930s.  In terms of modern bands I enjoy listening and dancing to, there’s Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five, The Candy Jacket Jazz Band, The Holy Crow Jazz Band, The Mint Julep Jazz Band, The Hot Baked Goods, Nirav Sanghani and the Pacific Six, The Big Butter Jazz Band, and of course Michael Gamble and His Rhythm Serenaders.

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

MD: – I want to play music that’s fun to dance to.   That’s the goal of every song the Mad Hat Hucksters play.

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

MD: – New York City, January 16, 1938… That was the night that Benny Goodman played Carnegie Hall, and then up in Harlem at the Savoy Ballroom there was a battle of the big bands between Chick Webb and His Orchestra, featuring Ella Fitzegerald, versus Count Basie and His Orchestra, featuring Billie Holiday.  Getting to see these two famous events in jazz history would be my greatest wish!

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

MD: – I think there’s a large divide in the jazz community between different styles of jazz.  Do you think there are larger communities of fans for pre-World War II jazz music or post-World War II jazz music?

JBN: – Thanks for answers, Yes, of course, jazz music or post-World War II jazz music more …

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

MD: – All together, I hope people enjoy the album for what it is… music for dancing, and I hope it will inspire people to get up out of their seat and dance.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Image result for MORGAN DAY drummer The Mad Hat Hucksters

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