Jazz interview with jazz guitarist, educator and composer Chuck Anderson. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?
Chuck Anderson: – By devoting my life to the study and development of the jazz guitar, I have created aural associations between musical principles and the technique of the guitar. This allows me to spontaneously create music that matches the mood of the moment.
JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?
I think that the factory like setting of music school itself creates an issue. I feel that the only way the creative arts can be taught effectively is one on one.
JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?
This is one of the tragedies of music. That being said, perseverance, courage and adaptability are critical components of success. If a player lacks these, he or she would be unlikely to succeed in any case.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
It depends on what these “disparate influences” are. If they are personal, it’s critical to find a balance in order to develop a life in music. No one controls influences completely but you can control your reaction to these influences,
JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2019 Original Jazz Work show it was formed and what you are working on today.
I enjoy looking back at my original trio and contrasting that experience with my current trio. I enjoy the fact that these are all original songs written over a span of 45 years. I also find the contrast between upright bass and electric bass interesting as to how they interact with the guitar and drums.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
There are always 4 elements involved in music – Mind, Ear, Hands and Soul.
The mind organizes concepts. The ear hears and stores sounds. The hands execute musical ideas. The soul is responsible for creativity. I document the relationship between these 4 elements in my book Music Pursuing the Horizon.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
In the arts, the artist determines what and how to play. The audience listens and accepts or rejects the music they hear. The commercial artist allows the audience to control musical direction. The artist does not. As Bill Evans put it – Don’t chase styles or players or trends or audiences. Play what you love and hope that the world makes room for you. These are sentiments that I share.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
I remember doing a concert with Michel Legrand and the Pittsburgh symphony. At the end of rehearsal, Michel asked me what I was doing after the rehearsal. I was just hanging out waiting for the concert so he said, we’ll close the doors and play. So Michel and I played jazz without an audience but it remains one of my fondest memories.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
The standards don’t represent the totality of jazz. New original jazz writing, Latin influences and fusions of diverse musical styles should influence young people toward jazz in the future.
JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?
My teaching, playing and writing are virtually three different careers. Each activity complements the others.
JBN: – How important is it to you to have an original approach? Can you comment on the bridge between being a musician and being a composer?
I am a great believer in the importance of having an original approach. The musician direction is a different direction compared to the composers direction. As it is often said, a jazz musician creates 3 minutes of music in 3 minutes time. A composer creates 3 minutes of music in 3 months.
JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across? Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel?
I primarily deal with abstract imagery. The feeling comes through the pursuit of this imagery. I am most influenced by nature and by the images in abstract painting.
JBN: – What do you see for your extended future? You know what you have going on? You have life? If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
I will continue to teach and create educational material for music. I will continue to create new music and present it in concert. I will essentially avoid jazz clubs and commercial venues in general.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
I do not tend to listen to anyone in particular. I was more involved in listening in my early developmental period.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
That the guitar is a wonderfully expressive instrument that has the power to influence the world. My slogan is “Uniting the World through the Jazz Guitar”.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
I would be most interested in the 1950s and early 60s when jazz had a wider public appeal.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
How can the media influence the public to enjoy jazz as an art form?
JBN: – Thank you for answers. The media can affect both the musician and his music in many ways. If every musician presents jazz as art, then there is no need for influence, if not, we can’t help him, there’s just such a musician who needs to get away from jazz.
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
My life is totally devoted to music so “harnessing” it is a way of life for me.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan