May 18, 2024

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Interview with Adi The Monk: Expressing soul in music requires feeling, emotion: Video

Jazz Interview with jazz guitarist Adi The Monk. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Adi The Monk: – I was born in Southern Illinois and mostly raised in Central Illinois. Champaign-Urbana. I’ve always had access to instruments, especially strings and keys. I haven’t ever been a solid student in the classical sense, but I’ve never said that I couldn’t play. Thanks to my Mama and Papa for keeping a musical household.

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

ATM: – I’ve always tried to use my music and guitar playing as a natural and honest voice for expressing myself and communicating with the world. The music that I make is just what naturally wants to come out, and I just hope to make it felt by others.

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

ATM: – I don’t practice much, I just perform a lot. Currently about 5-6 shows per week.  I might work on scale or mode exercises sometimes, or play with different chord voicings and progressions, but no strict regimens.

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?

ATM: – I agree with you that I tend more toward harmony than dissonance. I favor natural minor and Dorian mode. But I don’t strategize or consciously decide on these things. I feel successful if I can simply convey what my heart wants to convey, and let it be called what it’s called.

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

ATM: – I welcome them. I try to acknowledge and honor influences. I’m comfortable with that because my range of influences is so broad, and it’s never been my way to copy others exactly. My influences are also not what you might generally guess. For example, I don’t really listen to guitar players much. I listen to Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis. I’ve also been an hiphop listener since the early 80’s. I’ve got an Outkast reference on the new album, let’s see who can find it.

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

ATM: – Expressing soul in music requires feeling, emotion. Music can also be purely intellectual or mathematical, without any feeling. Where the perfect balance is will be a matter of preference or taste for the listener. I think I have always been more about expressing pure emotion in music than about incorporating principles for intellectual reasons, but I’ll leave that up to the listeners to decide.

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

ATM: – Depending on what that means. I definitely want my audience to be happy and love the music, and it means a lot to me when they let me know that they love it. I don’t generally take requests, though, unless it is something that is already in my repertoire. I don’t pay attention to people who might expect or encourage me to be something that I’m not.

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

ATM: – We’ve made some great memories lately. Having a veteran like Bobby Sax on board has been a blessing and really added a special depth to the project. Bobby was a pleasure to have in the studio – very meditative and soulful. I enjoyed watching the focus and care that he put into crafting his parts for this album. We also had a great Album Release Party here in Asheville, NC. Bobby and I played several songs and we premiered the new video. it was a great turnout of new and old faces, one of my favorite memories yet as a musician.

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

ATM: – I don’t see any need to worry about that. Music is alive, it’s a force of nature. The important thing is that people are able to communicate and express themselves honestly through music. We don’t need to stress about keeping this style alive, or that style alive. Keep this song in play, that song in play. If it is real –  if it is relevant – it’s value will be seen and appreciated by the right people at the right times.

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

ATM: – We generate this music – sound vibration – from the soul. All sound vibration is close to the soul and affects the soul immediately. The highest sound vibrations – mantras, names of God – are purifying and liberating. Regular hearing and chanting of transcendental sound vibration is the foundation of spiritual life.

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

ATM: – My only business is to connect with as many people as possible. To have my music heard and felt by as many people as I am able to touch with it in this lifetime. I can’t really say I know what the musical world is like. I just keep performing, recording and taking every good opportunity that I can.

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

ATM: – Que Vola? Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. Sonny Rollins. Coltrane. Wynton Marsalis. Always Miles.

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

ATM: – I try to convey a message of resilience, hope and spiritual optimism.

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

ATM: – I might like to go back to when I was 15 and wrote a letter to my blues guitar idol, Mr. Hubert Sumlin. Mr. Sumlin sent me the nicest hand-written reply and invited me to come up to one of his shows in Chicago with my parents. I never asked them to take me, it seemed like too much of a request. Looking back on it now I think I should have gone and definitely brought my guitar. No need for a time machine though, I’m quite satisfied with how things have played out on their own.

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

ATM: – I’m answering these questions openly and honestly in hopes.

JBN: – Thanks for answers 🙂

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

ATM: – I’m able to harness it just fine. Thanks for the interview!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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